Every Body, Pay Attention
It’s a dangerous title, as it suggests that I have a huge ego and am telling you what to do. Well obviously I do want to grab your attention, but I‘m being deliberately provocative to hopefully evoke a little curiosity.
Did it work? If so, then let me point out that you need your body to do just about everything for you and without it, life would be very, very hard. It provides you with the vehicle to get from A to B, it represents you in the world, and the way you use it plays a huge part in how others see you.
Your shape, your facial expressions, your body language, your tone of voice all send signals that the rest of us process every time we meet you. Given the massive part that our body plays in our lives, it is amazing that most of us receive no formal training in how to make the most of it. (We get given this incredible high tech machine with a million and one knobs and functions, but no user manual).
Maybe the need for such a manual seems a bit unnecessary, but in an age, where people are becoming more and more sedentary, and much of what we do, including a huge amount of communication, is achieved by sitting in front of a screen, it seems to me that age old wisdom, once part and parcel of people’s lives, is being lost. Looking at the average teenager, (and I do have one of my own), it is a worry!
This trend perhaps has its roots in the industrial revolution, which with the invention of new machines and tools increasingly removed the need for manual labour. In recent times, with the advance in technology, things have progressed exponentially and it shows no signs of slowing. We live in a culture that worships intellectual pursuit and the latest clever idea. Increasingly manual labour is disappearing and the opportunity for genuine human connection, hand to hand, face to face, is diminishing.
As a result, we are slipping down a slippery slope that could well lead to disaster. Some of our current world leaders seem to have no clue as to how to get the best out of people, and the potential consequences of that are terrifying. Mentioning no names, but take a look at a few of them, and tell me if the very sight of them doesn’t scare you, let alone the impression they make when they open their mouths and start waving their hands about.
Even if you believe that I am wrong about losing ancient wisdom, so much emphasis is being placed on intellectual pursuits that at the very least, the balance between mind and body is way out of kilter.
This affects all aspects of society, but my focus is on the business world. Developing leaders and through them effective teams is hugely important, but it seems that all too often, employees are treated simply as an easily replaceable commodity and that is a very dangerous road to take.
It is perhaps encouraging that the most popular university course for students to choose is business and administration (1), but not surprisingly universities and business schools focus on catering to the student’s intellectual needs and so far I have yet to find a course that includes any element that even considers what part the student’s body might actually play in all of this. As someone who has been exploring exactly how to get the best out of myself through studying the impact of mind on body and vice versa, for over 30 years this astounds me.
It’s worrying, because I know through teaching aikido that whilst the ideas involved in giving students the body wisdom they need to start improving their performance are:
Few in number
Easy to understand
Far from new, (the knowledge is ancient).
Most students have no prior knowledge and cannot believe the incredible impact that applying what they learn has on their lives. It seems like magic to them. This is the case for a group of people who presumably have some interest in mind-body connection, and it seems pretty unlikely to me that I would find anything different were I able to get at the rest of the population. In fact, I suspect that the awareness of the part the body plays in optimal performance amongst the average student attending a business related degree course would be even lower. It really is time that we started to address the problem.
So to come back to my title, we all need to pay more attention to our bodies. It not only tells others a lot about us, but actually its sending you signals all the time about its state of health and general well-being. The big question is:
Are you listening?