My lovely husband phoned to say there was something on BBC Radio 4 “about the body and coaching” (bless him, he knows those words are synonymous with ‘Clare’). I tuned in. I heard Patsy Rodenberg talking about her craft and for the first time considered that I could use that word too. Patsy and I are deep in our commitment to working with the body, with a similar but different focus.

I loved hearing Patsy say Pavarotti taught her about the voice coming from feet on the floor. Yes! When I have any inkling that I’m not grounded enough I only need feel my feet again and notice my voice drop to affirm my rootedness. I’m not a voice coach of course (although some clients experience that as a side benefit), I’m focused on supporting people to embody who they are even more, owning their unique Self. Wherever you go there you are type approach (a Jon Kabat Zinn phrase).

The interviewer asked a question about the similarity between musicians rehearsing and Patsy’s approach, here’s what she said:

“…you start with your feet, you centre the body, you release useless tensions. Everything is connected in the body. If your knees are tight your throat tightens. So you centre the body and release tensions in the shoulders and then you stretch the breath, and then you work on freeing the voice and the range of the voice and speech…”

Yup. She goes on to describe the endless repetition required to embody any skill, saying “the point with craft is that you have to repeat it so you can forget it.”

I love this turn of phrase. “Forget” in the sense that it’s in the background, a way of being we can simply ignore but totally rely on it being there. This is why I love watching people who truly embody a skill, like Cirque du Soleil performers, musicians marching in formation, sports-people, writers, actors and my absolute favourites, Formula 1 drivers. (I’ve seen footage of Nico Rosberg demonstrating his fitness regimen by doing push-ups and playing cards at the same time, simply amazing). I’ve written about performance artist Yoann Bourgeois elsewhere and I always think about Andy Puddicombe delivering his TED talk on mindfulness whilst juggling. Juggling!

All this brings to mind a resilience practice I sometimes share with clients. I demonstrate the difference between my natural fight-flight-freeze-fold reactivity under pressure and my responsiveness when grounded. What do I do to get ungrounded? I simply hold my breath by zipping up from my belly to my throat, constricting the ribs and diaphragm, tightening the jaw and the eyes. The slightest push will knock me over in that state. Then I demonstrate groundedness and I often hear comments on the shift in my energy, not only filing myself out to the edges of my skin, but actually beyond in to the etheric body. I take up more space, I become a force to be reckoned with. In that embodied state I am then at choice about whether I want to be like teflon, repelling their attention, or choosing to soften, opening my chest and allowing the possibility of a deep connection. Both states are useful, and everything in between as well.

I leave you with something to ponder: what do you embody? what’s your craft? what would you like it to be and when will you begin? My private practice is usually full, but do reach out if you would like guidance or support.

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