How to Listen, So Your Body Will Talk

How to Listen, So Your Body Will Talk

It’s not uncommon for my clients to complain about body aches and pains in their sessions with me; a tight throat or jaw when they are around certain people; occasional chest pains when they think of something stressful; a pit in their stomach when they are speaking in public. My clients are aware of what their pain could be related to, but they can’t seem to relieve the discomfort, despite this understanding.

It’s clear that our bodies are screaming for attention but how do we listen to the messages our bodies are sending to us? More importantly, how can we calm our bodies down?

There’s actually a self-help skill you can learn and practice that can help you tremendously: the power of listening to what your body is saying. 

Professor Eugence Gandlin and the Power of Focusing

Here’s the background: In the early 1960s, Professor Eugene Gendlin did research on successful outcomes from therapy. A key finding was those who could sense into their bodies and get out of their heads, experienced relief from their problems. And in contrast, just analyzing, complaining, or explaining away problems wasn’t proven to be nearly as helpful as listening to the body.

Gendlin developed a tool which he called Focusing. The concept is that you talk to your body as if it’s another human being who has thoughts and feelings that it wants to express.

During the course of building this tool and his research, he discovered that it works as a self-help skill, even outside of therapy; or, of course with coaching

Once you learn how to listen to your body, you can use it at any time, in a variety of situations.

This blog post summaries some of the tips and suggestions from the book, The Power of Focusing – A Practical Guide to Emotional Self-Healing authored by Ann Weiser Cornell, Ph.D.

Getting Started on Learning How to Listen to Your Body

Here is the first exercise to start on this journey to listen to your body.

  • Set aside 10-15 minutes to practice, several times a week.
  • Find a comfortable, quiet place, away from distractions or interruptions.
  • Have a piece of paper ready to jot down your thoughts, emotions, and feelings that come up.
  • Sit quietly, with eyes open or closed and ask yourself: Which way today? (Something will come up. Trust that the first thing that comes up actually wants your attention.)
  • Now, sense into your body. See where your attention goes. 
    • Does it go to your chest? 
    • Do you notice that your breath is shallow or held? 
    • Does it go to your stomach?
    • Just notice and make note of it. For example, your body might say, My shoulders are tense and hunched up to my ears!
  • Say to yourself:
    • What in my body wants my awareness now?
    • How am I about that issue?
  • Say to yourself: I’m saying hello to what’s here.
  • Now find a way to describe the feeling in your body. Ask yourself, I’m trying to find a way to describe what’s here.
    • Is it jittery? Tight? Hot? Empty?
    • Is there a color? What shade of color?
    • What’s the texture? Once you dive deep into the feeling, you might feel that the sensation gets stronger or dissipates.

Take notes on how you are feeling. For example, you could write that your shoulders feel hot, and the texture is like steel wool, it’s a dark grey blob that spreads across your back from one shoulder to another.

At this point, you might want to stop for this session. You can go deeper next time.

Before you end, say to yourself

  • I’m checking back in with my body
  • Is it okay to stop today?

Trust that your body will give you the right messages if you are patient and listen carefully.

Getting to the Next Level of Listening to Your Body

To go deeper at your next session: repeat the steps in the above exercise and ask yourself the following questions.

  • Is it okay to just be with this right now?
  • I’m sitting with it, with interested curiosity.
  • I’m sensing how it feels from its point of view.
  • I’m asking if it has an emotional quality. For example: My shoulders are angry.
  • I’m asking: What gets it so tight, hot, anxious, etc.?
    For example: I get so angry when I have a lot of responsibility. It feels like I’m holding up the world….Like Atlas. It’s too much to handle.
  • I’m asking my body to show me how ‘all OK’ would feel.
    For example: All okay would feel good. Maybe I shouldn’t take on too much. Now, take a breath and release the pressure. Relax the shoulders. You aren’t holding up the world. Take one thing at a time. Be compassionate and patient with yourself. It’s all okay now.)
  • I’m checking if it’s OK to stop soon.
  • I’m saying: I’ll be back.
  • I’m thanking my body and the part that has been with me.

The positive feeling that comes from Focusing is such a special experience, notes Cornell. It’s called a Felt Shift and, it’s a time when everything in your mind/body, your whole organism is rearranging itself to accommodate the new understanding you have received.

I’ve used this process with my clients and with a little practice, I’ve witnessed their entire worlds crack open, once they get to know themselves this way. Long forgotten memories come into focus, they experience a heightened sense of awareness and most importantly, they are able to dissolve the angst and anxiety that they’ve been carrying around for years.

Working with a Professional or Life Coach

As you work through building the skill of listening to your body, you may also consider working with a professional or life coach. Today, coaches use different modalities in working with their clients. You could work with a coach who uses breathing techniques or helps you build a practice of vigorous exercise to connect mind and body. Depending on your preferences, you could build a custom coaching program for yourself that could help you tap into your feelings and help you uncover what’s holding you back in a completely different way.

Do check out the MMS NorCal Coaching Collective which brings together professional and executive coaches with many modalities, skills, and passions.  

Why Coaches Need International Coaching Federation Credentials

Why Coaches Need International Coaching Federation Credentials

The demand for coaching has been increasing rapidly not just in the United States but all over the world. As per an article, Three Trends that will Shape the Future of Coaching,” published by the International Coach Federation (ICF), the “estimated market size of the coaching industry in the U.S. was $15 billion USD” in 2019 with an average growth rate of 6.7% per year. One of the key changes that are resulting from this demand is the need to have trained and credentialed coaches to assure quality assurance.

Are You a Professional Coach Without Credentials?

Keep in mind that people can call themselves a coach but without training and credentials, they are not actually coaching; they are acting as a mentor or advisor or consultant.

Learning the coaching method is a journey in personal development. As you learn the method, you will be bringing your own topics and objectives to the training to work through. Learning the coaching method brings you closer to yourself and closer to others.

Professional Coach Training

The MMS Northern California, the Approved Coach Specific Training Hours (ACSTH) Coach Training is a three-month transformational certification program for people who are looking for the quickest and most transformational way to become a certified professional coach.

This program trains you to get an ICF Accreditation with an ACSTH. The 60 hours of coach training includes two, three-day weekends and six, two-hour webinar sessions. The purpose of the MMS Coach Training is to support you to:

  • Become an MMS /ICF certified coach;
  • Grow exponentially in awareness and interpersonal skills;
  • Learn coaching skills to apply to your career,
  • Commit to living life as a coach.   

This 60-hour ICF Credentialed ACSTH coach training is delivered by ICF-credentialed/MMS trained coaches who have been trained by Dr Cherie Carter-Scott. This training will prepare you to get accredited by ICF. You will see live demonstrations of coaching daily and will practice your skills with peers as well as receive immediate feedback from coaches leading the training. As required by the ICF, five feedback sessions are included.

The training is held in Marin County in Northern California, just 30 minutes north of San Francisco. 

Contact the MMS NorCal Institute to learn more!

How a 40 Billion Dollar Global Company Launched an Internal Professional Coaching Program

How a 40 Billion Dollar Global Company Launched an Internal Professional Coaching Program

The MMS Institute has been partnering with Fortune 500 companies for over 40 years to deliver Leadership Workshops, as well as Coach Trainings. While some companies work with outside resources for their Executive Coaching; this multi-billion-dollar, worldwide organization decided to train their leaders in the MMS Coaching Methodology so that they could build an internal Coaching Program and offer Coaching to an expanded group of employees and managers, at a lower cost.

We sat down with this client’s Leadership Development Manager to understand how they launched this program and why they chose MMS to partner with them to develop selected employees as internal coaches.

MMS: What prompted you to start an internal coaching program for the company?

Client: When I started at the company 4 years ago: I felt it was really a good company that had values I connected with. I knew they utilized external organizations for executive coaching and I felt they were missing opportunities to offer our employees the experience of coaching who were not at the executive level.  Manager’s aren’t always good at Coaching and Coaching is the support that a lot of employees need.

I was talking about Coaching all the time and eventually, it became the perfect storm.

My company connected with an external partner to redesign their Performance Management process which aligned well with Coaching. Coaching is pivotal and impactful, and it makes the new performance management process work.


MMS: How did you go about piloting the project? 

Client: I had this feeling in the back of my mind, “Build it and they will come.”

I also had some fears and I wanted to be sure it would be successful, so I thought, “how can I strategically launch this and do it in a way that shows value?”

I decided to write a business plan. I decided to think backwards. I thought about the desired end-results and then I figured out how to get there.

We started out by training 10 global people from Asia, UK, the U.S. on the MMS Coaching Methodology. The 10 individuals were within the Leadership Development Organization that I’m a part of. We got managers to nominate their staff that they thought would be good Coaches and there were people coming to me saying they wanted the Coach Training and they wanted to be a part of the Pilot.

Then, once these 10 people were trained; we decided to offer Coaching to a specific group within the company:

  1. The first program was with entry level managers and within that, we talked about:
    • the value of coaching
    • developing teams
    • developing people
  1. The second program we launched was leadership development for high potentials and the individuals inside the    program had a coach to help them understand their assessments.
  1. Next, we expanded that process to allow each participant the opportunity to connect with a coach to develop goals and a plan.


MMS: And? What was the result of this pilot?

Client: Once everyone worked with a coach for a full quarter, we conducted a survey to get their feedback on how their experience was. Everyone gave us incredibly positive feedback… and that’s how we were able to move the pilot to offer coaching to a larger group.


MMS: How did you socialize the opportunity to be internally Coached?

Client: We launched a Coaching Portal where employees can log in, review coaches bios, as well as their photos and sign up to get coached. The portal explains what the Coaching experience is like and links them up to an internal MMS Trained Coach.

We now have certified over 30 coaches globally. This is a small number to support a global company of over 40,000. To ensure that we do not over-promise and under-deliver, we continue to strategically offer coaching to individuals within the various leadership programs.   Additionally, we do not turn away any coachee that connects with a coach via the coaching portal.


MMS: How many employees do you plan on training in the MMS Coaching Methodology?

Client:   The vision is to have all of HR, Entry-Level Managers and Executive Level Individuals trained in the MMS Coaching methodology as well.

We are taking all HR Staff (Leaders, Generalists and HR Operations) through a three-day MMS Coaching Skills Workshop. We teach them how to have those crucial conversations utilizing the MMS Coaching methodology. We plan on offering at least two coach training certifications per year.


MMS: Why do you find this valuable to your organization overall?

Client: The behaviors that we are teaching our leaders is going to help drive the strategy of the organization; it will ultimately drive the strategy of business under the culture of coaching.


MMS: Why did you choose to partner with MMS to train your internal people on how to Coach? 

Client: I met Dr. Cherie Carter-Scott, the founder of MMS through another contact, at a different organization. We instantly connected. I was looking for someone to help me build out our leader’s values and shift the organization’s culture.

I brought Cherie on board and what I appreciated and valued about working with MMS was their willingness to develop a program that aligned with the organization’s values and not just providing a product off the shelf. Working with MMS has always been about customizing it to work for the organization. I did a lot of research and talked to a lot of people but when she came along, it was the right fit.


MMS: What unexpected results have you seen, as a result of training your people to Coach?     

Client: The development of relationships amongst individuals; how people have elevated each other. The Coaches are really coming together and supporting one another. This work helps people be feel safe to experience being open and vulnerable. I’ve watched people who were stiff, really open up. I wasn’t expecting that. It has been a positive and surprising result.


MMS: What unexpected results have you seen from the coaching program on those being coached?  

Client: I’m surprised about their willingness to talk about real stuff. Everyone who has been coached internally has felt that the coaching relationship was able to meet or exceed their goals that were set.

Contact the MMS NorCal Institute to setup a similar program for your company and employees!