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How to Open Your Throat Chakra and Bring Energy into Your Speaking: Interview with Dr. Marina Kostina

Dr. Marina Kostina and I recently returned from a workshop we conducted at the University of Iowa, where we got to work with amazing teachers of Russian, training them on the effective use of educational technology in foreign language classrooms as part of the STARTALK grant program.  There are many ingredients that go into the creation of effective and engaging lessons, presentations, speeches. One of them, however, is not very often discussed – it is the energetics of the speaker. Dr. Marina Kostina is a perfect expert to talk about energy. She is a Reiki master/teacher, self-worth & net-worth coach, researcher, speaker and trainer. You can find our more about her work at http://www.DrMarinaKostina.com.

Let’s watch the interview and see how we can all benefit from aligning our chakras for more powerful and creative self-expression.

By | 2017-08-08T19:34:34+00:00 August 8th, 2017|Communication, Creativity, Public Speaking, Yoga|0 Comments

Speaking under the New Moon: Communication rituals of release and promise

Do you believe that the Moon influences you on some level – emotionally, physically or spiritually? Well, if the Moon affects ocean tides, why not us? After all, we are made up mostly of water. Many poets and writers chose the Moon as their muse. Whether you pay attention to the phases of the Moon or not, it may be useful to imagine that your words are like those ocean tides, rising and falling, gaining power and focus with the rhythms of the Moon. As I am writing this post, the Moon is about 3 days old, it’s a 10.5% waxing crescent, growing its thin thread of light. What inspiration can it bring to our communication, whether it is public speaking, presenting, self-talk or journaling?
The New Moon is about planting the seeds for things to come and releasing everything that is in the way of the new energy. Here are a few metaphors and word rituals you can adapt to celebrate the new beginnings.

Journaling is a great practice to gather your thoughts and process your feelings. The New Moon invites you to look inward for answers. The answers are closer than you think. The following question prompts can help you harness the energy of transformation.

  • What come up for you as topics to focus on or expand in your personal growth, family, relationships, career, well-being at this time?
  • How do you want to feel in those areas of your life? What words best describe your feelings?
  • What new routines and habits would support the themes you identified?
  • What stands in the way of transformation?
  • What do you need to know to make the desired changes happen?
  • What do you need to let go of to make things happen?
  • Who will support you on your journey?
  • What excites you about this transformation?

Now, it’s time to weave the Moon thread. Here’s what it may look like, for example, if you chose “boundaries” as a topic for the area of relationships.

I want to be better at setting boundaries with people. I want to feel empowered and in control of my social life. I need to learn how to say “No” more often when invitations or projects don’t feel right. I worry that my refusals would upset people. I am a people-pleaser. I need to know that my relationships will be OK and even better when I learn to focus on things that matter, and that people can handle their own feelings, whether they are upset with me or now, and I can handle mine. I need to let go of my fears and insecurities. I need to love myself more. My family and my true friends will understand me and will be there for me. I am excited at the possibility of people respecting my time and my commitments. I am excited to have more time to do the things I love.

In your personal communication, you may feel the need to release something that has not been said or set forth the ideas that have been hiding in the background. Voice what’s there, waiting to be set free. Your best words will come from the mindful, sincere and honest place. The masks are off. Be prepared to be vulnerable. This is how your new relationships will sprout under the tender light of the New Moon.

In public speaking, the New Moon calls for an enticing opening – a story or an anecdote to capture the audience’s attention from the start and transport them into the new reality you are about to present to them. A powerful open-ended question can work as your “Big Bang” opening too, and so can unexpected statements or quotations. Giving a solid roadmap will ensure that your audience is ready for the journey and won’t get lost in the swirl of ideas. The New Moon also offers the Big Promise. What will your audience be able to do as a result of your speech? What do you promise your audience will get? How can you help the audience members release their pain? A good framework to tease your audience to a point that they are eager to hear your message is to say something like, “By the time you leave here today, you will be able to…” What will they be able to do as a result of your speech that they don’t do right now?

Finally, don’t forget to allow the moments of introspection in your speech. The Moon invites us to reflect on our experiences and feelings. People remember better things that are relevant to their lives. Reflection questions challenge the audience to think about how your main points relate to their lives and personal experiences. What can you ask your audience to make them think about their own situation as it relates to your message? In which context are they most likely to apply your message?

Whatever your communicative challenge is today, the New Moon invites you to focus on the energy that needs to be released before new opportunities can show up and unleash their transformative potential.

By | 2017-08-08T19:18:31+00:00 June 27th, 2017|Communication, Creativity, Perception, Public Speaking|0 Comments

Good vibes only: 3 steps to build your speaking energy

“If your presence doesn’t work, neither will your word.”
~ Gabrielle Bernstein quoting Yogi Bhajan in her book “The Universe Has Your Back”

When we speak, it is not just our words that carry the message forward, it is also our energy, vibes and the state of mind. As speakers who want to create greater impact, we need to align the message with our own presence, as well as the energy of the audience. Craig Valentine, a World Champion of Public Speaking and my mentor, emphasizes that importance of meeting our audience members where they are energetically and then moving them to where we want them to be. This applies to all important conversations, not just public speaking. Even in self-talk, what we say may contradict to how we feel – you can be your own audience. Here is how you can connect with your audience members and influence them on the energetic and emotional level:

Find the calm in the eye of the speaking storm. You may feel nervous and jittery before your presentation. You may find it hard to control the stream of thoughts coming through your mind. You may feel swept away by the whirlpool of events that are happening around you. It is important to find your center – your core. Find a quiet place where you can have a few minutes to yourself and do the following exercise that we often do in our yoga classes. Stand tall, take a deep breath and constrict every muscle in your body. Tighten your stomach, clench your feasts, squeeze everything inward and, as my yoga teacher likes to say, “Make a prune face.” Hold it for a few seconds then release as you exhale. Repeat a few times. I find this exercise helps me release stress and recharge.

Feel your audience’s vibes. Observe your audience, if possible, before your presentation. Are they energetic or low-key? Are they tired? Have they just come back from lunch? Do they appear formal or informal? Imagine yourself somewhere on the beach. You are about to enter the ocean. What does the ocean look like? Do you see calm, turquoise-blue waters? Do you feel the breeze chasing the waves to the shore? Do the waves look fun and playful or big and threatening? The ocean that you are about to enter represents the energy of your audience. You need to adjust your behavior accordingly, whether it is swaying back and forth on gentle waves, diving in, swimming along or staying close to the shore. Let your audience’s presence guide you when you begin so you can match their energetic level and build rapport. If your audience members feel tired and bored, jumping up and down on the stage will only annoy them. Transport them into a story instead, gradually capture their imagination and take it further.

You are the captain of the ship, and your audience are the passengers, so make it a memorable journey. Raise those sails and be ready to cruise along. Once you have connected with your audience and got their attention, make sure you have a toolbox of strategies to bring your audience where it needs to be, no matter if the waters are calm or rough. Compelling stories, reflective questions, clear points and take-aways, memory anchors, statements of benefits, and effective delivery techniques can all help you take your audience on a most amazing journey, both mentally and energetically, so they would want to sail with you again and again.

By | 2017-02-01T13:24:18+00:00 February 1st, 2017|Communication, Perception, Public Speaking, Yoga|0 Comments

What stories will you live by in 2017?

Happy New Year!  

Detoxing the mind is as important as detoxing the body. Our self-talk is how our mind communicates the stories we live by. What stories will you live by in 2017?

The first step in this self-talk detox process is to figure out your patterns. Begin by observing how your self-talk affects your mental state. Is your inner voice kind or angry? Is it accepting or judgmental? Does it speak respectfully or yell? Are there any attributes you use to describe yourself that, perhaps, you shouldn’t?

Let’s practice the language of love…

Speak the language of love,

Feel the tingle of warm, sweet bubbles dancing on the tip of your tongue.

Cleanse your palate for words that melt in your mouth like chocolate.

Savor the goodness and richness of the elixir of love.

By | 2017-01-01T20:16:19+00:00 January 1st, 2017|Communication, Conflict Management, Yoga|0 Comments

The word play ritual to spell release, intention and surrender

As the year end is getting closer, people take time to reflect on the months past and set their vision for the future. Today, I offer you a ritual that can bring more creative play to this process. Words, rituals and play captivate the brain in their own unique ways and facilitate transformation. Words can cause the brain to create a vivid and real experience of whatever these words represent to us.  Rituals tap into the predictive power of the brain to set expectations and rewire the brain to give commands in accordance with such expectations.  Play liberates our creative spirit, silences the inner critic, and allows us to see a broader range of possibilities and solutions.

The ritual below is a form of contemplative practice, so it should not be rushed. You may have heard that the popularity of coloring books for adults have grown over the past years because they help people release stress. Coloring is easy and gives an opportunity for the mind to wander. In addition, research suggests that using your hands to write or do crafts, like knitting, for example, also benefits the brain. The word play ritual offers the same benefits but in a more personal and creative way. Children can have fun with it too.

It is inspired by nature and the change of seasons. While trees let go of the leaves and stay bare in their dreamy rest through the winter, our human cycle of activity tends to speed up during the holiday season.  Amidst this hustle and bustle, it is useful to find a practice that can bring us to the roots, ground and center our energy. As leaves decompose in nature to fuel the growth of plants in the Spring, our dry plant ink will help us let go of anything that is no longer needed and cultivate the quiet intention for the transformation we want to bring into our lives.

You begin by preparing your dry plant ink. For my ink, I used dry rose petals, chamomile flowers and lavender flowers that I often use to brew teas.  Dry herbs, spices, tea leaves are all good options. You can crumble the dry plants with your hands or use a rolling pin.

I like to collect my dry plant ink into a mesh sachet bag. I may even through a few of my favorite crystals into the mix.  When not in use, you can keep such sachet on your desk for its beautiful aroma, which will serve as another reminder to your brain of your set intentions. (The sense of smell is the only one of the five senses directly linked to the limbic system – the center of emotions in the brain.)

For your project, you will also need a surface to work on, such as a sheet of paper or a canvas. Instead of a pen, I roll a paper cone to spread my dry plant ink on the surface. You can just use your fingers to spell the words too. I have a little paint brush and a broom to help me along.

Once you have everything ready, it is time to think of the words that represent something that you want to release. For example, I chose to spell the word “fear” as something to let go of. I “sit” with this word and the feelings it may stir in me as I spell it with my dry plant ink. As you paint your word, notice what comes up for you in the process. For example, I noticed that I wanted to rush and finish the “unpleasant” word faster. This is not surprising because we want to avoid unpleasant feelings or discomfort associated with them. However, I chose to slow down and make it beautiful nonetheless. Those negative feelings are there for us to warn or alert us to something. They are worthy to be acknowledges and accepted for what they are.

Once the word is completed, take time to appreciate it before you let it go. I sweep it with my tiny broom. You can mix it up with your hands or even blow it away. This represents the impermanent nature of our emotions. We can move from one mental state to another.

Now is the time to pick up a new positive word that represents something you want to focus on or bring more of into your life.  You use the same dry plant ink to transform the negative into the positive as you invite the lessons of your negative experience to fuel the positive change. Savor the time and the process as you spell your positive word. Notice what comes up for you now. My positive word ended up much bigger and fuller than my negative word. I added more ink to complete it. Keep it as long as you wish before you feel it is time to return it back into the sachet bag and breathe in its lingering aroma. I left mine on my daughter’s desk for now as a surprise when she comes back from school. Perhaps, it will inspire her to paint her own.

Try it and let me know how it goes. Maybe, you will want to share your picture too.

I wish you a happy and peaceful holiday season!

[UPDATE] This is what I got back from my daughter 🙂

By | 2016-12-21T12:49:31+00:00 December 20th, 2016|Brain, Change, Communication, Creativity, Learning|0 Comments