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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.

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

10 yoga-inspired reflections for joyful, stress-free holidays

  1. Don’t sweat the small stuff – just sweat. Keep your body hot and your mind cool.thanksgiving
  2. Breathe in peace and calm, breathe out love and joy.
  3. Stir drinks, not emotions.
  4. Twist torsos, not words.
  5. Cartwheel around sensitive topics.
  6. Invert perspectives to get the right side up.
  7. Feel your roots and bend like a willow.
  8. Even if you can’t keep your balance, you can find it again.
  9. Be present for all that is here now, and be grateful for what it awakens in you.
  10. Would a leaf floating to the ground make a sound?
    Would a thought crossing your mind leave you kind?

Words as energy of 5 elements: earth, water, fire, air, and ether.

five-elementsWords of all kinds traverse our meadows…
Words that bend minds,
Words that shoot arrows.
Words light up hearts,
And words hide in the shadows.

When we share words, we share facts, ideas, opinions, but those are not the only things we share. Words create a unique blend of energy around the message, just like spices add different flavors to the same ingredients in a dish. Some words work so well together that they transmit powerful energy. Others may neutralize or create confusion. The energy of words activates different emotions in ourselves, as well as our listeners. Words can make us happy, calm, motivated, sad, angry, confused or overwhelmed. With each choice of words, we can either disengage or connect, show up guarded or vulnerable, belittle or uplift, assume or explore.

The most creative forms of energy in communication lead to new patterns of understanding, appreciation, and emotion. Energy is not something inherent in words or emotions, but rather emergent from a variety of factors at play and thus can be transformed.

In our workshop “The Art of Speaking from the Heart,” we borrow from the 5 elements in yoga to talk about the energetic states of communication. These elements permeate all aspects of life, and many cultures use the concept of the 5 elements in one way or another. While this articles addresses their application to communication, these elements speak broadly to our physical and mental states.

1. Earth. The earth element brings a sense of safety and stability to conversations. You feel grounded and centered. The words are rooted in the core of your being, your values and beliefs. You strengthen the earth element in your communication when you build trust and rapport with the participants. All words and feelings are respected. People feel safe to express their concerns, discuss sensitive issues and show their vulnerability. The earth element invites the commitment to deliberation and thoughtful decisions. A well-designed process, structure and agenda support the earth element. In contrast, when the earth element is weak, participants may feel disrespected, manipulated, judged or ostracized.

2. Water. The water element suggests fluidity and flexibility. It awakens the creative flow in conversations and acknowledges the evolving nature of ideas, opinions and solutions. Participants are encouraged to connect with one another, keep an open mind and consider multiple perspectives. Self-expression comes easily as things “roll off your back.” The techniques of brainstorming, role-play and improv strengthen the water element. The energetic state of water invites fresh approaches and innovative solutions. When the water element is weak, conversations feel stale. Participants are entrenched in their positions and unwilling to budge or look at the situation from a different angle.

3. Fire. The fire element is about power and determination. It provides the energy and will to move forward despite difficulties and differences of viewpoints. Participants are willing to stand in their power and speak their truth. The fire element brings out the courage and will to explore the issues below the surface and reach deeper understanding and clarity. In yoga and Ayurveda, fire element is linked to digestion. In conversations, it invites the participants to “digest” the issues and emotions in healthy ways so that they can nourish their bodies and minds. Too much fire, however, can be overwhelming and cause anger, judgment or verbal attacks. The weak fire element results in apathy, withdrawal, and inability to digest new ideas.

4. Air. The air element harnesses the power of the wind to generate movement, enthusiasm, inspiration, and creativity. It brings lightness to conversations, making it possible to discuss difficult issues in a lighthearted and open manner. Humor, stories and anecdotes can strengthen the air element in communication. If it gets too “windy,” the participants can experience a “bumpy ride” – an unpredictable, abrupt or rough patch in their conversation. Regaining their balance and control by focusing on the agenda and addressing issues in a timely manner, can help avoid unnecessary stress and anxiety.

5. Ether, or space. The ether element invites us to observe the reality and hold space for everything that happens. It is about acceptance, conscious awareness, and capacity to connect with your higher self and speak your inner truth. When the mind is still, clarity emerges. We strengthen the ether element when we take time to reflect, mediate, journal, and integrate ideas. The ether element invites us to notice subtle things and welcomes silence as space to allow new ideas to percolate to the surface. Encompassing the fifth, or throat, chakra, the ether element is directly related to self-expression and communication. Sound vibration, emptiness, resonance and expansion are all qualities of ether. Unrestrained, ether can expand beyond boundaries and cause differences to emerge.

How do earth, water, fire, air, and ether manifest in your communications? Where do you find imbalances?

Want to find out your communicative strengths and weaknesses in each of the five elements? Subscribe to the newsletter in the header above and stay tuned to our upcoming assessment.