Musicians, artists, and athletes warm up before getting into their work for the day. They go through routines and exercises that prepare and check in with their bodies and minds — giving them a chance to notice anything that’s changed, such as a particularly sore muscle, a joint that feels weak, or that the mind is struggling more than usual to focus.
This helps them to adjust their expectations and also how they approach their practice, their art, or their competition this time.
It’s a recognition that our bodies and minds are always changing. Each time we show up, we’re a little bit different, so it’s worth taking some time to get to know who we are in this moment before engaging in our work.
Getting together for a meeting is no different. If the meeting is important enough to schedule time for out of everyone’s day, then it’s worth taking a few minutes in the beginning to check in — for each person to answer the question, “How are you arriving?” The idea isn’t for each person to tell a story about what’s going on with them, but simply a few words, no more than a sentence, to share the state of their minds and bodies as the meeting begins.
If a beloved pet is sick, just sharing, “I’m feeling a little down,” is enough. The reason isn’t as important as acknowledging to yourself and the group how you’re feeling so everyone can be a little more understanding. Someone else might say, “I’m celebrating today!” and we don’t need to know why, but now we know there are two very different feelings in the room. Telling the group that my back is sore, so I might stand up and walk off screen, but I’ll still be paying attention, lets me feel free to do what I need to do to not get distracted by my back pain, while also minimizing distraction for others.
With this kind of brief, popcorn-style “check-in,” the meeting begins with a sense of the whole from everyone’s voice being heard, even if some people hold space without speaking for the rest of the meeting. The “social body” of the group begins the meeting with a deeper awareness of itself, which can support more engagement, clearer communication, and less miscommunication, during and after the meeting.
But don’t take my word for it. If you’ve begun meetings with this kind of check-in, I’d love to hear what you’ve learned. And if you haven’t, give it a try and share what happens.8 August 2022