When I first stumbled into this kind of work - bringing spirituality into feminism and change - I didn't think parallel thinking existed. Spirituality and feminism seemed to be coexistent worlds that no one tangibly connected until I began writing about it.
As it's always important to admit as a feminist, I was wrong.
In 2014, I was fortunate enough to attend Fun, Fearless Life, Cosmopolitan Magazine's conference for women. Amy Cuddy was a speaker. You may have heard of her because she is the social psychologist with the second most watched TED Talk of all time.
If you haven't, take a moment. I'll wait.
I was blown away by her stories, but all of forgot about them until I saw that she published a book this past year called Presence. I told my partner about it, and it showed up at my door a week later (a surprise that doesn't happen often, but for this one, I'm so glad it did!).
In bewilderment, I read Amy was a social psychologist - which I knew - who studied prejudice - which I did not know. A psychologist I admired who studies what holds us back from equality? I was hooked.
Amy defines power as a precedent to presence. By feeling powerful and confident, we have the ability to be our best selves in the moment, leaving fear (the enemy of powerful change) behind. Just read these:
"Power affects our thoughts, feelings, behaviors, and even physiology in fundamental ways that directly facilitate or obstruct our presence, our performance, and the very course of our lives. When we feel powerless, we cannot be present."
"Power can incite action."
"Powerlessness is at least as likely to corrupt as power is."
"To slow down - to stop the runaway train in my mind - I needed power. To slow down, I had to feel that I was entitled to slow down."
And the way to put power into practice is the power pose.
How to Power Pose
1). Stand up.
2). Make yourself as big as possible (spread your arms, lift your chin, maybe smile).
3). Hold for 2 minutes.
4). Repeat daily, or before any challenging situation.
5). If you have a disability that keeps you from taking these steps, imagine yourself taking them - studies prove that is just as powerful!
If you didn't watch her TED Talk, you're wondering why this is significant. Physiologically, when we make ourselves as big as possible, we are warding off threats. Our testosterone levels (dominance hormone) rise while our cortisol levels (stress hormone) fall, leaving us feeling powerful. Studies have shown higher performance, decreased levels of depression and anxiety, and a present state of mind that focuses on the moment, not the outcome.
Our body language actually ends up informing our mental state!
Because I provide meditations and mental guidance on feeling powerful, as this book taught me, it is just as important to incorporate physical empowerment. The next time you feel yourself getting smaller, do your mind a favor and audit your body language. You could find some new patterns you didn't realize were there.