Health Podcast Post

Body Awareness with Jay Fields

George Grombacher September 20, 2023

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Body Awareness with Jay Fields

LifeBlood: We talked about increasing your body awareness, how to get out of your own head and out of your own way, the danger of being disconnected from our physical bodies, and how to cultivate the connection, with Jay Fields, Somatic Coach, educator, author, and LinkedIn Course Creator.      

Listen to learn why and how to think about your body as an instrument!

You can learn more about Jay at and LinkedIn.

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Our Guests

George Grombacher

Jay Fields

Jay Fields

Episode Transcript

george grombacher 0:02
Jay fields is a somatic coach and educator. She’s an author helping people leverage their nervous systems and bodies to shift their thinking and have better relationships with themselves. And others mentioned she is an author. She’s also a LinkedIn course creator, amongst many other things and interests. Welcome, Jay.

Jay Fields 0:20
Thank you. I’m so happy to be here. excited to have you on the show.

george grombacher 0:23
Tell us a little about your personal lives more about your work and why you do what you do.

Jay Fields 0:29
Yeah, well, I, I live with my husband in a small town in Southern California that is surrounded by nature in the form of ocean mountains, high desert, it’s kind of an incredibly magical place. And so we get outside and play as much as we can. Because I’ve always been a really active and outdoorsy person, since I was a kid. And when I was in college, I got really into yoga, and rock climbing, and backpacking and all sorts of kind of outdoor adventure sports. And I realized that the being in my body and doing those things in a way that required such presence impacted my emotional and mental health in a positive way. And so much so that I decided to study that, and I designed my own major. And I shifted into essentially studying the mind body connection back before it was kind of a thing that was talked about in mainstream. And that’s how I got into being a somatic Coach and an experiential educator for the last 20 years. Because both of those things are about being in your body, and facilitating someone else being in their body in a way that actually lets them be connected to all these internal resources we have when we are not stuck in our heads, thinking and anticipating and ruminating and analyzing, like what, which I also do a lot. Which is why I’ve tried to get outside and be in my body and do more things like that, because it’s the balance to the things that make me spin out.

george grombacher 2:15
Aren’t we always in our bodies?

Jay Fields 2:18
You know what, it’s funny we are. It’s one of those things. I once long ago wrote an article about how when I was teaching yoga, I taught yoga for 20 years, how it seemed like people’s bodies were like a vacation home that they that they go to every once in a while when they want to feel good, or, or actually be present and relaxed. But yet, yes, we’re technically in a body all the time. But in terms of actually being aware of, you know, what’s my temperature right now? What what parts of my body are connected to the chair that I’m sitting in? What’s my energy level? What like we don’t, it’s kind of underneath the surface all the time. And we don’t really tap into it consciously very much.

george grombacher 3:07
Did, can can, as you sort of look back at that recorded history and humanity can you say and it can, can you say see at a time where we sort of started to break from actually being in our bodies to just being in our heads all the time?

Jay Fields 3:24
Gosh, I don’t know if I’m the person to answer that. I’m not a historian, but I would say that the advent of computers, and, you know, working in that way certainly didn’t help desk jobs of mechanized jobs, factory jobs, you know, the where you just kind of the sort of work where you get applauded, or, you know, more money or any of that, for being smart for being productive. I think that’s where we lost the connection.

george grombacher 4:04
It just jumped into my head was mind over matter. Like once we started to embrace knowledge work, and well, the body stuff. That’s just, it’s ancillary that has to come with me and I guess I need to pay attention to the vehicle that I’m driving around, but it’s really not that important.

Jay Fields 4:21
Not important, and yet it’s so important.

george grombacher 4:26
So So what is what you mentioned, you’re a somatic Coach, what is what is somatic?

Jay Fields 4:32
Good question. So Soma is the Greek word for body. So somatic means you work with the body as part of the experience. So when I’m coaching someone, they we still talk like, you know, hey, tell me what happened. But a lot of what I’m asking you about is what did that what was happening in your body when that was going on? Or right now while you’re talking to me, I noticed that it seems like you’re a Your voice just changed, or you, you started to breathe kind of shallow, what’s happening there. So even though the person will talk about something that happened in their past or something that’s going on in their, in their professional life or their personal life, my job is to help kind of keep them tracking themselves at the level of their own experience. So that we can start to pull on some of the resources, which I mentioned before. So when, in terms of our self awareness, we have different kinds of self awareness, we have conceptual self awareness, which is us thinking about ourselves. But we also have embodied self awareness, which is us experiencing ourselves. So it’s things like what I mentioned, like the temperature of your skin right now, can you feel where you’re supported by your chair or where you’re standing? Can you notice where your clothing touches your skin, energy level, mood, all those sorts of things that are in our experience, while research and neurobiology tells us that, when we are tapped into embodied awareness, as opposed to conceptual self awareness, we have access to things like courage, compassion, intuition, empathy, emotional regulation, or like all these things that make us really good human beings. We don’t get there by thinking about ourselves in our situation, we get there by being really, truly, in our own experience.

george grombacher 6:30
I love it is so funny, I was thinking about paying attention to to our bodies, and I thought what jumped in my head was being mindful about my body. And that’s essentially the opposite. And then use the term self aware, which is way better.

Jay Fields 6:44
Right? Yeah. Mindful, tend to be full of mind, it’s a little tricky is, it sounds a little semantic, because it’s not, it’s not not mindfulness, it’s just my wellness, that includes sensation throughout your entire being, as opposed to just thinking about yourself, because I mean, I am a part of why I do this work is because I am such a strong minded person, I’m a, I’m a thinker, I’m an analyzer. And when I get into that, rut of that I just, I’m not my best self. As, as are many people, I might be good at an intellectual pursuit. But in terms of being a somatic coaches, you know, being with another body, I think one of the things that happens when we’re heavy is we can’t feel one another, we’re not making actual real connections. And my work has evolved over the years, you know, I very much used to focus on teaching resilience in the workplace. And pre COVID, I, I traveled a lot. And I went around and worked in particular with people in direct care, professions, like nursing teaching, and in terms of building resilience and, and getting out of burnout. But recently, in the last four or five years or so I really focused on relationships, whether it’s personal professional relationships, this idea that in our one on one connections with people that you know, how to have who you are on the outside match how you are from the inside, is it’s what we, it’s authenticity. But it that’s such a buzzword, it doesn’t mean anything anymore, I think. But the sense of like, I I know that I’m not putting on anything to be somehow acceptable to you. That’s what really interests me.

george grombacher 8:49
Yeah, I appreciate that. I think that we’ve certainly all had the experience of feeling like we needed to get out of our own heads, and then going into nature, going into the mountains going to the beach. And having that experience of Oh, my head is now clear. And instead of me trying to think my way out of a problem, I can just go and experience something physically and somehow come to the solution without right brain.

Jay Fields 9:19
Right. Yeah, it’s that thing that you go for a walk and you’re like, oh, no, I figured that out. Yeah. And I think the thing is, is, you know, when we’re talking about using your body as a resource, it’s not always possible to go to the mountains or take a day at the beach. But one one way you can use that as a resource is, you know, think about when you’re in your favorite place, the place where you just feel at home in your skin, and you feel comfortable and intent. And rather than I think how many people use that place as they imagine escaping to it, like, oh, gosh, I’m sitting in this meeting about To get up and give his presentation, I’m super stressed out, I’m just gonna like daydream, that I’m off at the beach. Well, in an embodied awareness and somatic work, you do the opposite. Basically, you think about you think about that place, and then you feel what does it feel like in my body when I’m there. So you basically bring that place to you in the meeting, or in the difficult conversation. And you you feel, you know, when I’m at the beach, I, I feel the warmth of the sand under my, under my feet, and that somehow makes my, my legs feel more relaxed, you know, or I feel the sun beating on my, my shoulders, and that softens my shoulders. And so you bring in the embodiment in the moment that you’re in, rather than trying to imagine, gosh, I wish I was there. If that makes sense.

george grombacher 10:53
It does. It does, like a some kind of a bypass that going to escape, I’m going to leave this place that I’m at, and get to that place. But that’s your, you’re short circuiting it, you’re you’re missing the point, or you’re not taking advantage of, yeah, you’re

Jay Fields 11:10
leaving yourself. And I think that’s that piece of like being in our heads all the time has this quality of self abandonment in the sense of you’re not present. So if you have to leave in order to feel better. And we do that, not just by daydreaming, we do that by drinking, we do that by shopping, we do that by all the different numbing agents we have in our life. And it makes sense, right? It is typically not a comfortable thing to be aware of how you feel in your body or your emotions. But it’s as this it’s a bit of a catch 22 Because we’re so used to numbing that we think, gosh, I can’t go there, I can’t feel that. But when you actually have presence and feel you do have access to all those things, compassion, emotional regulation, intuition, courage, that those are the very qualities you need to be able to feel. And so that’s where somatic coaching comes in. And why I think it’s so important is because we don’t have a lot of skill sets for this, we’re not taught how to do that. And, and so we get kind of run underneath the surface by our nervous system in particular, you know, our nervous system is a part of us that is constantly reading the our surroundings and our insides looking for threat. Am I okay? Am I okay? Am I okay? And if it senses danger or threat, even if it’s wrong about it, it will, it will dis regulate you. Essentially, you’ll either fight flight freeze when we talk about as mobilized or immobilized. And why I’m mentioning this is because most of this happens at the level or unconsciousness. And so we start to think of those behaviors as just who we are. Right? Like when I’m mobilized and more of a fight, kind of state, I might be short tempered, I might be my voice might come across as a little bit meaner or jerky or than I wish it were. And then if that happens, a lot of the time I start to think, Well, I’m just kind of a jerk, like, I’m just kind of a Go Go pushing hard. But that’s not necessarily who I am. It’s more the influence of my nervous system. And when we can be, have embodied awareness of the present moment, we start to realize, Oh, this isn’t me. This is my nervous system kind of putting me into a state that influences my behavior and my personality.

george grombacher 13:46
So becoming aware of the way that I’m feeling and actually behaving and having an intervention.

Jay Fields 13:59
An internal intervention, as it were. Yeah. And the in the internal intervention starts with acknowledging, this isn’t my personality. This is my nervous system. And it’s time to address the nervous system. You’re giving me the eyebrows look like huh?

george grombacher 14:18
Yeah, it’s making sense. I am. It’s so it’s, it’s figuring out okay, it’s my it’s my nervous system that is telling me this. And then do I make a shift? How do I move through that? I guess I’m trying to. Yeah, try to fix myself. Not that I’m broken.

Jay Fields 14:39
I mean, no, none of us are broken. But we’re always always trying to fix yourself in any way, aren’t we? Yeah, so it’s at the level of the body. So let’s say you’re, you’re stressed out, you’re in that mobilized place that we think of as fight flight, right? So you might feel that is your heart beating fast your breath is the Little bit more shallow. This is my favorite thing about this, this is usually where you’re over functioning, right, you’re doing three things at once you’ve got the to do list that you’re just like, I got this, I got this, I got this, but it just feels kind of revved up inside. So if you’re in that rev place, you’re probably not going to be this kindness person to your spouse if they walk in, or you’re going to be a little bit harsher with your teammate. And so if you can notice the Reverend, your body, you address it at the level of your body, in simple things, like, get up and shake your arms and like, you know, which just dissipates a little bit of that extra energy or go splashing cold water on your face, which, which activates the mammalian dive response, which gives you that like, it kind of makes you take a deep breath in, and it’s a reset button for at the level of your nervous system. So stuff like that, where it’s not like, I’m going to fix this, and I’m gonna become a target entirely different person, we’re looking at, like, if I’m at a five, on a scale of one to five in terms of how revved up I feel, how do I get myself to a four, because that’s the, the more the excuse me, the less rev you feel, the more you can make different decisions can come across in a different manner, you have more control over your own experience. And so the point to how do you address that is you do something with your body to shift the experience of that physicality of the experience.

george grombacher 16:33
That makes so much sense, I know that I, when I find myself getting short with my family, that when I move I do some exercise I do some of the things that you’re describing, it helps to it just helps. So hey,

Jay Fields 16:48
yeah, brings you back.

george grombacher 16:52
And that it’s not an on or off, it’s I was thinking it’s like a continuum of not red, green, it’s, it’s always it’s not solved, it’s just my, it’s who I am, it’s my existence, really,

Jay Fields 17:07
and it is it is all you will, it’s not like, you know, you brush your teeth once and you never have to brush your teeth again. Or you eat once and you’re like, I’m good on that. It’s like this is a constant, tracking yourself with the level of your nervous system is a constant kind of play. Right? Like that’s, that’s what our nervous system is designed to do. It’s designed to bring us up when we need to take action is designed to bring us back down when we need to rest. And so it’s kind of learning to play that instrument a little bit. So you can keep yourself more in the window, where you can be at your best.

george grombacher 17:44
I love that I love thinking about it like an instrument I think it’s a perfect analogy or metaphor, whichever one that is you need to get to know your body and maybe it’s going for a walk, maybe it’s jumping jacks or push ups or whatever it might be. Right You’re up what’s what the right word warm

Jay Fields 18:04
shower, or I think that’s the thing that you know, when we think that self care always looks like exercise or always looks like taking a bath or you know, getting massage, but it depends on the state your nervous system is in you kind of have to meet yourself where you’re at, to bring yourself back to that middle place. If you always rub high, you’ve got to meet yourself at that and with more action or, you know, to bring yourself down but if you go more to that immobilized state where you feel more withdrawn or depressed or kind of numb, you got to do gentle things like, you know, don’t go for a run, go for a gentle walk, right? Or take the warm shower. Or sometimes I say it’s as little as like, get out of your sweatpants and put jeans on, you know, like, put put clothes on that you would wear into the world and that’s just enough of a message to your body like this really gentle way like oh, yeah, we’re not doing that right now. We’re not We’re not zoning out, we’re getting back engaged.

george grombacher 19:07
I wouldn’t have thought about the clothing or, or the way you comb your hair or whatever, but it’s so obvious now that you say that. Yeah. And I think that that’s so cool. And just being more aware, more self aware. Because each one of those states and it’s such a perfect thing that I’m like I’m going towards like breaking bricks and punching things like No, it’s not always not always about physical activity, buddy.

Jay Fields 19:38
Love that. And it’s not always that and I think that’s where a lot of people get tripped up is they have one channel and it’s not always the right channel for what’s needed.

george grombacher 19:51
And it’s diversify my my my your sources your tools. Right there’s more room sources that I have available then just one speed. So I’m only half kidding, Jay. Love it. I understand what Jay thank you so much for coming on where can people learn more about you? How can they engage with you?

Jay Fields 20:15
Yeah, my website is Jay dash So j y dash f ie And if you add slash join, that’s where you can find your where you can access my newsletter, I send out a weekly newsletter, with tips and all of that and all my LinkedIn courses are on my site and my coaching and group coaching program so everything about how I work with people is all there.

george grombacher 20:41
Excellent. Well, if you enjoyed as much as I did, sure, Jay, your appreciation and share today show the friend who also appreciates good ideas go to Jay dash and check out all things J fields and then go to j dash And subscribe to the newsletter and check out the courses and everything else that Jay is working on. Thanks again, Jay.

Jay Fields 21:07
Thank you. Till next

george grombacher 21:09
time, remember, do your part like doing your best

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