The Physiology of Excellence
In this series of articles we will explore the features of how to be a ‘charismatic messenger’ and speaking on purpose. Taking control of your posture and physiology can helpfully be applied to any situation where you are placed under scrutiny, such as in a boardroom meeting, a public speech or a networking meeting. It can also be really useful when there’s a need to stand your ground and speak out on a boundary violation. Speaking on purpose means to set an intention that you convey your truth with a quiet competence and grace. It means speaking from the heart and not the head, and when you gain command over this it enables you to be a powerful and positive influence over people. As healers, coaches, leaders and change-makers, the gift of speaking purposefully is one of the best ways to create the ripple effects of change you want to see in your community.
Having control over the physiology of your body is a skill that can be learnt and practiced to reduce the risk of distracting from your message by stuttering, shaking, appearing nervous or uncertain. Excessive hand gestures, asymmetrical body positioning and darting eyes can inadvertently create an atmosphere of instability and increase the risk that your message comes across with uncertainty. When standing in front of an audience, charismatic messengers are able to convey certainty and stability with the body by maintaining a stable stance (known as the trainer’s stance). This stance is similar to the asana (or posture) known as tadasana or Mountain Pose in Yoga.
In trainer’s stance, the feet are parallel and hip width apart, with the heels behind the broadest part of the foot. All four corners of the feet are anchored to the ground equally. These corners are the big toe mound, little toe mound, inner heel aspect and outer heel aspect and each are equally balanced with weight bearing. This foot position is helpful for standing delivery of speeches but it can also be practiced when sitting at the conference table and even when conveying a message over the phone to powerfully anchor and ground a message.
In trainer’s stance, the pelvic is held in a neutral position which means the hips are level and facing forward. Excessive swaying of the body, asymmetrical hips and uneven stance has the possibility of throwing your listener’s attention into uncertainty and instability.
The use of abdominal breathing is an excellent device for overcoming and controlling the jitters which are a common symptom of being challenged outside your comfort zone. This type of breath is especially helpful when we are feeling fear around saying something important or standing our ground with integrity. When we breathe into the belly, it activates the parasympathetic nervous system, which is our ‘rest and digest response’, a calm and restful state of being. It’s common when someone gets nervous, for the breath to rise into the upper chest to create an upper chest breathing pattern which then elicits the sympathetic nervous system, the fight or flight response. Upper chest breathing raises blood pressure and heart rate, creating even more nervous tension and adding to the feeling of anxiety. The feminine energy is a receiving energy. Being receptive to the gentle opening and relaxation which comes from belly breathing has the added bonus of giving you better access to clear thinking and easeful delivery of speech.
It is recommended that the arm and hand movements are kept to a minimum or at least controlled for maximum impact. There are a series of powerful mudras, or hand and arm postures which evoke an archetype and control energy which I’ll cover in a future article.
The spine is also an important indicator of physiology. A slouched posture will generally give the impression of depression, sluggishness and low energy. Charismatic messengers are experts at maintaining a long, erect spine. They deliver their messages with an open chest, conveying an open heart and increasing the atmosphere of trust and credibility. Who can argue with an open heart and a quietly confident, erect and certain posture? Now go forth and speak your truth!