WHAT I’VE BEEN READING: The Body in Coaching and Training by Mark Walsh

This book is a terrific introduction to integrating the body into the work we do. It is well written, provides easy to understand information about research on somatic…and includes many very practical activities to do yourself and to use with individuals and groups in coaching or facilitation. There’s also an impressive list of video links so that you can see different techniques in action. The book will help you to understand how our body, consciously and unconsciously, develops and maintains habits based on past experiences as well as the present moment that impact on all aspects of our lives, and how we can use our body and an embodied sense of who we are to create a future. Walsh explains that embodiment is affected by situation (what’s happening now), culture (present and past), relationships (present and past) and place (present and past) as underpinned by universal biological aspects (e.g. the threat response and the physiological side of our emotions). Even the most cynical of us will acknowledge the importance of our bodies in functions like perception, cognition, emotion and motivation, identity, and relating to others. You might be surprised to find how our bodies also have an important role to play in insight, inspiration, ethics and values, and creativity. The book covers four aspects of embodied intelligence, including embodied self-awareness, embodied social awareness, embodied self-leadership and embodied social leadership. I highly recommend this book, particularly if you work in a context in which people are largely “in their heads”. It can be a transformational experience to get people out of their heads and back into their bodies!

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