Body-Centered Leadership: Rewriting Your Story, Transcending Culture

Photo Credit: Tony Blay on Flickr

Body-Centered Leadership is a new program that I’ll be launching in early 2014.

The principles, which stem from my experience working with thousands of people from around the world for the past 20 years (combined with many of the brilliant tools and strategies developed by my mentor Donny Epstein), will help people learn how optimize the way they use and relate to their bodies – so they can enhance their performance and increase their fulfillment in virtually every area of life.

One of the great challenges that I’ve realized people are facing (and after working with individuals from 60+ countries it is quite apparent) is that humans are still thinking and acting with the same neural hardware and software that developed over 150,000 years ago, when it was a still a very local and linear world.

Not too long ago your world was flat.  Your parents and grandparents all lived in the same area.  Your entire life likely happened within a few days walk from where you were born.

Your lineage and your culture was your entire reality.

But now, thanks to technology, we live in an exponential and global world.  You can hop on a plane and be on the other side of the planet in less than a day.  You can hop on the internet and be on the other side of the world, virtually, in a few seconds.

This is not only new, it’s completely foreign to how our brains and bodies have evolved for thousands of years.

Culture and Your Story

The universe is made of stories, not of atoms.

― Muriel Rukeyser


Every culture is built upon stories and beliefs passed on by its leaders, family members, elders and medicine men/women.  To put it bluntly though, these stories are simply selective imaginings of individual’s experiences – hallucinations if you will.

This makes culture really just an agreed upon set of hallucinations that a group of people subscribe to.

You could call these stories “group survival strategies” in many cases, since they often evolved to keep your particular group, nation or family “safe” from outside threats.

Your story (and your cultural conditioning) is what shapes your identity.  It’s how you decide what’s good and bad, right and wrong.  It’s how you decide where you belong, what you’re worth, and where you can go in life.

Linear Hardware in an Exponential World

The neural hardware and software that humans have been operating with for millenia was great for that linear and local world, where you stayed in the same place and weren’t exposed to much change during your whole lifetime.

But thanks to technology, we are living in a world that is MASSIVELY and rapidly changing.

We are currently creating over 2.5 quintillion bytes of data every single day (to put this in perspective, over 90% of the data in the world has been created in the last two years alone), and all of this data creates an incredible amount of sensory-overload.

There are so many choices, so many stories to explore and so many options to get from point A to point B and beyond, that our nervous systems often aren’t able to process the data without getting hijacked by our emotional brains and going into fight-flight mode.

In other words, the sheer amount of possibility becomes a trigger that causes us to react and protect ourselves.

Transcending Culture Through Your Biology

That we are shaped by the culture we create makes it difficult to see that our culture is what must be transcended, which means we must rise above our notions and techniques of survival itself, if we are to survive.

-Joseph Chilton Pearce


Your operating system wasn’t designed to both protect you from a saber-toothed tiger and solve a complex math problem at the same time.  Actually, the part of your brain (neo-cortex) involved in sophisticated thinking gets short-changed when you’re under threat or attack.

And with the exponential growth and change going on in our world, that 150,000 year-old linear-thinking brain experiences a huge amount of disruptive stress on a day-to-day basis.

When you’re on-edge and vigilant, blood flow is reduced to your cortex, and you aren’t able to think as creatively.  You don’t see the big picture.  You don’t ask the big questions.

Instead, you focus on what’s right in front of you that seems to be a threat – whether real or perceived – and your body prepares for a battle.  This becomes a vicious-cycle.

Your body does the same thing whether you’re protecting yourself from a big cat or bracing yourself from the overwhelming amount of emails in your inbox.  The neurology and biology are the same.

Think about what can happen though, if you’re able to unhook from that vigilant state and remain open, flexible, adaptable and creative in the midst of the barrage of data that we live in.

Think about what can happen if you can unhook from your stories (and the embedded cultural hallucination) and learn how to use the new data available in innovative ways – instead of just getting overwhelmed by it.

Think about what can happen if your body, your physiology/biology, can stay open and your neocortex can stay activated even when you’re being pressured to fit in, do it right, follow the crowd.

We have very few techniques today that allow us to update our operating system, and help us use our neocortex instead of our limbic system/emotional brain to navigate through life during times of stress and pressure.

Yet it’s access to that part of our brains that will allow us to see the bigger picture, transcend the cultural conditioning we’re mired in, and lead based on our own hallucinations instead of the culture’s!

Body-Centered Leadership will offer numerous tools, techniques and strategies specifically chosen for that purpose.  I’m really excited about this program and I’ll keep you posted about the launch date throughout the year.

If you’ve got questions or comments, please let me know so I can be sure to address them during the development phase!

To your health and well being,

Dr. John



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About John Amaral

Santa Cruz Chiropractor Dr. John Amaral has helped thousands of people from over 50 countries transform and awaken to more meaningful and purposeful lives. Follow him on twitter at @johnamaral