Mastering Presence

with Diana Chapman

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Finding openness

Diana Chapman

Master Trainer, Conscious Leader, Co-founder, Author

Lessons Learned

You can move above the line by shifting your physical chemistry through breath & posture.

Emotional intelligence trumps IQ in decision-making.

Instead of burying your emotions, feel your feelings to completion so you can free up your energy.


Lesson: Mastering Presence with Diana Chapman

Step #2 Shifting: Finding openness

The question is, if I'm below the line, how do I shift if I recognize I'm below? One of the things I actually really encourage people to do is before you shift, first, just have a bit of fun below the line. Maybe get bigger. Get a little more unenlightened. In fact we say, get a little Jerry Springer-ish.

I was working with a team who called me recently. They said, "We’ve been bought by another company. We're really upset about this new culture that we're being asked to integrate into. We had a meeting. We all came to the meeting. We checked and everybody recognized we were all below the line."

What they did is they put the clock on for two minutes and each person got to bitch and moan for two minutes about what a big problem this whole thing was. They had to make it really exaggerated so they started to laugh. Because that's one of the ways we know you're stuck is when it's not funny. This isn't funny. They said that they all felt that way when they came in the meeting. It doesn't feel funny. They brought some humor into it by making it just such a big, exaggerated deal. Then from that humor, they let go of the problem. They all got, "All right. We can shift already." There wasn't really anything to do except take a breath and open up.

There are two different kinds of, we call them shift moves. One is blood and brain chemistry shift moves. We think those are the first ones you ought to know about because it's really hard to shift when your chemistry inside is getting all zapped up with adrenaline and all these other good chemicals that we can get easily addicted to.

Breath is the first easy shift mood. Really, at the core of all religious and spiritual practices on the planet is breath. The first question is, "How are you breathing?" It's hard to, if you're really deeply breathing and relaxed and you're breathing, it's very difficult to see anything as a big problem. We just first say, we call it four-by-fours, take four seconds in and four seconds out for four breaths. That's one of the ways we ask many of our clients to start their meetings, is "Let's start with a four-by-four." It gets everybody into a more relaxed state. Now, from this relaxed state, "What's the content we want to explore?" and we now recognize we're in the context of curiosity because we've opened up our breath. We've got our chemistry in a relaxed place. That's one way.

Then, also, radically shifting a posture. When you get really into an issue, people can tend to hold a posture. As long as I'm in this posture this is the only way I'm going to talk about it. If I say, "Okay. We're going to keep talking about it." I can't hold the same attitude from this posture and I can't run my chemistry the same way. Oftentimes we'll even say, "Stop the meeting. Everybody stand up. Radically change your position at the table and change your posture and then let's keep going with the conversation." That might take 15 seconds for everybody to move around and then all of a sudden, we get a very different context from where we'll be talking about the content.

Shifting first blood and brain chemistry, we recommend. After that we have a whole host of shift moves that are more looking at the mind and how the mind is creating certain beliefs in helping you question those beliefs. That's another big area of shifting. Another one that's really core is being able to feel your feelings. We're learning more how much EQ trumps IQ in making good decisions.

Helping people not just know I'm having a feeling. A lot of people say, "Yeah, I know I'm angry." Can you actually acknowledge that as a sensation in the body and feel it all the way to completion? Most people don't know anything about that aspect of emotional intelligence. We're spending a lot more time with teams, helping them learn how to feel it, move it all the way through so then they don't have to use their energy to hold back. It actually takes quite a bit of energy to hold back emotions. We ask you to feel that all the way through so that now your energy is available more for the collaborative process rather than staying controlled.

As human beings, we're wired for surviving. A lot of people ask about, "How do I control whether I go below the line or not?" I would say, for the most part, you don't get to control that. You're going to fall below the line because just the way you might look at me, my brain might go, "Uh-oh. She's upset. That might mean something bad for me." That just fires, and it triggers in there.

My job is to recognize it triggered and see, "She's not hurting me. She's not a threat." But my mind can't tell the difference between whether that look you just gave me is going to hurt me as just like a saber tooth tiger might kill me. It doesn't know the difference. When I notice I've dropped below the line and that's being conscious is to notice, "Oh, you just constricted a little bit there." I just questioned the experience that's happening. I get aware of what's going on and recognize that I'm not being threatened and then come back into an awareness with my frontal cortex in which I can see that all is well. I can continue to open and breathe and stay in a place of presence.

If there is something that I'm seeing over there, I can ask you a question like, "I noticed you frowned a little bit when I said such and such, and the story I'm making up is that you're upset. I want to see if that's true. So that I can use the information to learn more about you, perhaps, rather than getting caught in my own defensiveness."

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