Friday, December 2, 2016

Balancing for Group Goals: The Power of Coherence

I’m sharing this excerpt from my book, Educate Your Brain. This piece is the conclusion to Chapter 14, “Brain Gym in the Workplace.” However, as you read, please keep in mind that groups are found everywhere: sports teams, dance ensembles, study groups, neighborhood associations – even families! Wherever there’s a group that would like to function more effectively as a coordinated team, Edu-K balancing can be a valued resource. 
I conclude this posting with an addition: thoughts about what it is that makes the group balancing process so powerful. What might it have to do with the power of coherence? I warmly invite you to share this exploration with me. 
Edu-K balancing and group goals
While the balance process is used most often with individuals, remarkable shifts may also occur when those individuals come together to address a common goal. Following a balance, office staff or management teams may find themselves communicating more effectively, feeling more aligned as a group, and cooperatively solving challenges that arise.
I was invited to work with a business that was having serious cooperation issues. It was a small, recently merged office. The two owners (now partners) brought with them distinctly different personality styles and sets of office systems, and employees steeped in those disparate systems. As one of the owners stated, “The challenges for our newly merged support staff are considerable and lead to conflicts that drain our time and energy.”
The Total Team EffectivenessTM program I’ve developed uses the Edu-K model to specifically address challenges within groups. It consists of a workshop covering the basics of the Brain Gym process, followed by individual balances with each team member, and then at least one more session with the entire group, focused on a collective goal.
In the case of this company, each participant chose to use his or her private session to address a specific personal issue, with the overall understanding that balanced team members create a more balanced team. When they got together a few days later for their group session, they chose to focus on improving their ability to communicate and generate harmonious solutions.
The owners later wrote to say that their office was now more productive and focused on accomplishing their business goals. One of the office staff members commented, “It isn’t that conflict went away. We just seem to find solutions so cooperatively and easily now.”
Not all businesses have a need—or the time—for such in-depth work. Sometimes just a quick balance-boost can resolve a specific situation.
I facilitated a short workshop for the executive committee of a small private college at the beginning of a day dedicated to creating a three-year strategic plan. This school was facing a real challenge: each department’s program was growing, and the building wasn’t. There had been some very heated “discussions” among department directors about the usage of classrooms and whose program “deserved” what space. All the directors attended this meeting.
In the workshop, I briefly explained the basics of Edu-K balancing and introduced the PACE warm-up. Then we discussed what they wanted to accomplish together. The participants all knew they needed to improve their teamwork and blend the interests of the various departments of the school. To develop a group goal, I asked them to list the qualities that would help their team be more effective, which I scribed on the board. They mentioned such things as respect, flexibility, open communication, and willingness to hold a team view. Once all these words were contributed, I had everyone look at them and notice their reaction. Their comments ranged from “I can’t even look at the word cooperation” to “Making this change seems totally impossible.”
The Calf Pump
I suggested they each put a hand over any place where they noticed discomfort in their body, and soon they were covering stomachs, heads, necks, jaws, and lower backs. One man said, “I need more hands!” Then I pointed to a poster of all the Brain Gym movements (our learning menu), and invited members of the group to simply notice which movements they were drawn to. One person said, “I can’t take my eyes off the words ‘The Calf Pump.’ What is it?” I replied, “I’ll show you,” and then led the group in that movement. After a few movements done this way, I noticed everyone sitting back in their chairs, seeming quite content. When they looked again at the words on the board describing their goal, they had various comments: “My stomach feels fine and my headache is gone.” “I can do that now.” “I can look at our goal and breathe now—and even smile.” “I’m ready—let’s get to work.”
The director of public relations for this school later wrote to describe what happened during the meeting that followed their Brain Gym workshop:
We found that we were able to complete our tasks in record time with great camaraderie. Starting with concerns of “turf wars” between members of the team, we found we spent the day enjoying and respecting one another more than we could have anticipated. In fact, we accomplished the outline of our Three-Year Strategic Plan by 5:00 p.m. that same day!
Even though several weeks have passed since our retreat, members of the Executive Committee are openly using the techniques in front of our employees and discussing the benefits of the processes with their staff. Many of our employees have sought out the Brain Gym® for Business books that we brought back with us so that they, too, can benefit from the exercises.
We hope to include you in a future all-school meeting. In the meantime, we are all ambassadors for “Brain Gym” techniques!
Whether it’s a quick productivity boost or in-depth balancing, Brain Gym and Edu-K can help to transform the atmosphere of your work setting. It’s amazing what can happen when individuals really prepare themselves for success, and teams balance to hold a shared vision.
How to explain such profound changes in camaraderie and teamwork?
Over the last twenty years using Brain Gym, I’ve found that when people do these movements together, and especially when they engage in the balance process together toward a shared goal, positive shifts take place in group dynamics.
Teachers have shared that their classroom environments have been transformed once they began introducing the Brain Gym movements and making them a regular part of their day. This email from a special-education teacher is a good example:
“My students (many of whom I knew well, as they had been in this special class last year also) were suddenly shifting their attitude and getting along so well together. They cooperated in ways I’d never seen before, and the typical nagging and teasing almost vanished. They really became a learning team and seemed to enjoy the victories and gains of their classmates as much as they enjoyed their own.”[1]
And balancing is effective if your group is just two people! One of my Brain Gym students remarked that she and her husband were getting along remarkably better, ever since they came to me for a “partners” balance around the topic of communication. She said, “We seem to respect each other’s communication styles so much more; we’re more patient and understanding with each other. Our marriage is much more harmonious now.”
What’s the source of this kind of change?
Many of you who follow the Brain Gym work may know neurobiologist Carla Hannaford, Ph.D., from her book Smart Moves – Why Learning Is Not All In Your Head, in which she explains the biology of the learning process, and why physical movements like the Brain Gym activities are so vital for developing our capacity to learn.
She followed this book with Playing in the Unified Field – Raising & Becoming Conscious, Creative Human Beings. In this volume she takes a much more profound look at the forces (now verified by physicists) within us, and around us, as we experience our everyday lives. One topic she turns to again and again in this volume is coherence, which she describes as “an ordered, consistent, congruent, harmonious functioning within any system.”[2]
In essence, when we are in a state of coherence, we feel comfortable, connected, and happy; when we are in a state of in-coherence, we feel stressed, separate, and distressed.
Given these definitions, it’s not a stretch to suggest that the outcome of any individual’s Edu-K balancing session is a state of internal coherence, in regard to the goal they were addressing. (In the Edu-K/Brain Gym work, this is called a state of “integration.”)
I believe that what is happening during a group balancing session is that the group members are coming into a state of coherence – individually and together – around a topic in which they all have an emotional investment. When an entire group is in a coherent state, the need for defensive stances and chronic oppositional thinking simply falls away, and cooperation becomes spontaneous and natural. 
What’s creating this state of coherence, and how is it that it carries on as a lasting pattern? The balance process itself is a potent medium for change: preparing ourselves for new learning (the PACE warm-up) and setting a focused intention for change (setting a goal); noticing how and where we feel stuck (so the mind-body system knows what patterns to re-educate), and then doing Brain Gym movements, each of which has its own manner of releasing the effects of stress in the body and returning us to a more balanced (coherent) state; following this with noticing again (Wow – I feel different now!). Celebrating our change is the final step.
A powerful combination: 
• The Brain Gym movements themselves help us shift into a more integrated, coherent mind-body state. 
• The Edu-K balance process harnesses the power of focused intention for making a specific change, so those changes are deep and long-lasting.
Carla Hannaford describes the balance process this way: “elegantly simple.”
Is this exactly what’s happening when we balance? Is this all there is to it? Actually, I don’t know. It’s one way of looking at possibilities.
For me, what’s sufficient is to know that it works. Edu-K balancing works – for individuals and for groups, as well.
What opportunities are there in your own life, for exploring the possibilities?
With all best wishes,


Kathy Brown, M.Ed.
Educational Kinesiologist
Licensed Brain Gym® Instructor/Consultant
Author of Educate Your Brain

[1] Brown, Kathy. Educate Your Brain. Phoenix: Balance Point Publishing LLC, 2012. p.180
[2] Hannaford, Carla. Playing in the Unified Field. Salt Lake City: Great River Publishing, 2010. p.22.
Original article from Educate Your Brain Copyright© 2012 Kathy Brown. All rights reserved
Photographs Copyright© Laird Brown Photography. All rights reserved. 
©Copyright 2016 Kathy Brown. All rights reserved.
Brain Gym® is a registered trademark of the Educational Kinesiology Foundation  •  Ventura, CA  •

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