Bring it home, baby. Bring it into the body.
What does it mean to walk our talk? I had a beautiful experience of this with Sheila Peters. We were exploring a grounding and integration movement practice that unites the upper body with the lower body and while we were doing it, I had this tremendous visceral sensation of how above and below connect in that phrase, “Walk Your Talk”. This was a beautiful “aha” moment of taking something that up until then had been conceptual for me and bringing it into my body as a felt truth. Strengthening the awareness of the relationship between my lower body; my legs, my walkers… my lower chakras – what I do, what I want, what I have the power to do, the actions I take… with my upper body holding my talkers, my arms, voice, mind… what I say, my beliefs and my communication with the world definitely gives me the ability to sense if the two match up. The meeting place of the lower and upper chakras is the heart. When I walk my talk, I feel the integrity in my heart. I feel joy and I feel love, even if what is happening is not so good. I like being in the truth. And the way to know is so simple… is what I am doing what I say I am doing. Looking at it with the lens of my heart, I can take responsibility and breathe in the truth of what I do.
Alignment of the upper and lower body urges can help me sense integrity. Yet the word alignment can also be more ideal than real. In Nia, we are practicing being aware of and playing with alignment of the body via the feet, pelvis, chest, head, spine. Aligning, centering, balance and off balance creates awareness of that moves from the conceptual into the real.
It is possible that I do not even realize sometimes that I am not walking my talk, that I am not in alignment. I can certainly address this through my body awareness practices, but then I also need to unite it with my mind and my heart. This is where self-inquiry excels. Here is a great set of questions from the Charmm’d Foundation website whose mission is to Strengthen tax-exempt community leaders through the practice of emotional intelligence and ethical reflection. Although this applies specifically to leaders in the community, it also applies to the personal choices that we make every day that keep us healthy and aligned. As you ask yourself these questions, sense your body (breath and skin is a good place to start) and open up to the possibility that you might learn something about yourself you do not know.
• Understand the phrase “walk the talk” by breaking it down to what it means to YOU.
• What is your “talk?” (What are the values or purpose that you speak about?)
• What is your “walk?” (Your regular actions that support what you’re saying.)
• Is your walk and talk aligned?
• Is it creating the environment you want?
• If so, is this environment helping to facilitate your goals?
• If not, what can you do to change that?
My personal belief is that the world is a better place if what I am doing and what I say I am doing matches up. Ever since I had this realization working with Sheila, I realize that this creates a sensation of trust and safety in my body. This allows me to bring confidence and compassion into all my interactions since I am coming from a place of knowing myself to be in the process of being in the flow. When something feel off, this simple way of noticing helps me take responsibility for what is happening. Would I want to follow myself in this situation? Are my feet following in the path of my beliefs and my heart? What is manifesting in my life as a result? If I do not like where I am, is there a misalignment between what I say am doing and what I am actually doing? Can I sense it in my body? If I realign in my body, will I automatically make a new choice by creating space for a new belief? What needs to be brought in line, the walk or the talk?
Ever since I had this realization working with Sheila, I am more aware in my Nia classes of how I share this practice with others. We are constantly exploring grounding by staying connected to our base and steps and stance and by honing the mind body connection; can I bring my body to the places my mind wants it to go to. When I invite people to sense something, am I actually sensing it too? Am I walking my talk by crafting with sensation? And on the flip side, can I allow my body to go to the places my imagination invites it to? New neuropathways in my brain will bring me to new places. We create these most efficiently by uniting the mind with the body. If compassion and confidence are byproducts of this practice, can I bring that spirit to share with my students too? And thereby be a loving leader for them, someone they are following that is leading them to themselves?