At times we find ourselves in a state of fear. This fear blocks any opportunities for success that may arise. This leads TED speaker, award-winning social entrepreneur and somatic intelligence life coach, Chen Lizra, to believe that people are actually more afraid to succeed than to fail. She explains that this is the reason why so many end up self-sabotaging – pain and struggle seem more familiar and therefore comfortable. Yet many people continue with their old ways, succumbing to fear. Chen takes us into a path of learning how to live and think into greatness through somatic intelligence and the importance of feeling and learning through the body.
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Somatic Intelligence: How To Think And Live In Greatness with Chen Lizra
I feel absolutely glorious, wonderfully alive, and most grateful to be alive. I got up an hour before my alarm, which is not something that happens all the time. It seems like everybody I meet is doing so much whether it’s traveling, it’s meetings, clients, things that are going on, things that are building. I resist and do not use the word busy lightly. I will not say that I’m busy but quite active for sure, like so many people. Rarely these days will I wake up earlier than my alarm because the sleep has been lacking and I’m wanting it more and more of. I woke up and was vibrating with such gratitude and I don’t think that there’s anything that is more important.
At least at this stage of my life, I haven’t discovered anything that connects me to the spirit, that connects me to my heart, to God, to the feeling that I’m connected to everything and everyone more than it does when I’m in gratitude. I’m so grateful to be here with all of you right now. I’m grateful and I’m positive that I was buzzing and energized before my alarm because I was going to be speaking with somebody that I get to introduce to all of you, which is cool. Her name is Chen Lizra and she’s a TED Speaker and award-winning social entrepreneur, the somatic intelligence life coach, a bestselling author, and a professional dancer. Chen has helped people come back to their true nature through the power of somatic intelligence, which we’re going to talk about a little bit.
She specializes in transforming people’s lives by changing behavioral patterns for the better through bodywork and experiencing. She offers somatic intelligence workshops, one-on-one coaching sessions, training programs, and keynote speeches using the unique one-of-a-kind method that she developed, The Five Elements of Somatic Intelligence. She works with individuals, organizations, and events in order to cause deep transformation. She has one of the most talked about TED Talks with eight million views. She was featured in The New York Times, Cosmopolitan in the UK, Ego Magazine in Spain, Globe and Mail in Canada to name a few. That’s a lot. Chen, welcome.
Thank you for having me. You read this and I go, “Who is that person?”
I would love to get a sense from you. It’s a beautiful bio. There is a lot going on there. We’ve done a lot of beautiful and amazing work in the world. What is not in that bio that you would love people to know about you?
Probably that I was at the top of everything in Canada living there for seventeen years and I did my TED Talk. When that came out, there was such a buzz around it and everybody knew who I was. I did my book before that and it was a bestseller. I pulled the plug and I left my reputation and everything behind and everybody’s thought, “You’re insane. How could you leave all of this behind?” I said, “There was something more important.” I went back home to Israel. I haven’t lived there in seventeen years. I was only a kid there. I did that because I want it to be close to my dad because he’s still at an age where I can enjoy him. I felt that I was away for so many years and my heart was aching.
I said, “I’m going to find a way to do all of this from Israel to the world. This is what my heart says. I don’t care about the reputation. I don’t care about the money and I don’t care about anything.” I left. It’s so nice to see the after five years, the beginning was super rough. I had no reputation, no one knew who I was. I had to start all over again that it’s all coming together internationally from here, which I’m super excited about. I knew it as soon as I got here that it was the right choice. Even though it was tough, I knew it was the right choice.
Where in Israel?
I’m just outside of Tel Aviv, so in the center of Israel. You haven’t seen our beaches yet. That’s one of the perks of living here. I see the winter in Canada and I do not miss the snow and all that. I’m like, “I’m on the beach having a beer and it’s legal to drink beer on the beach.”
What part of the Canada where you in?
I was most of the time in Vancouver, but I also lived for two years in Toronto and two years in Montreal.
What is one thing that you are grateful for right now in this moment?
You talked about gratefulness before and I started every morning with gratefulness. It’s part of my morning ritual. I have a morning ritual. Gratefulness is one of the most important things for you starting your day with, an intention of not taking for granted things in your life. One of the things that comes up all the time is the gratefulness for the people who are helping me make all of this happen. Whether it’s the physiotherapist who is dealing with my injury in my shoulder, whether it’s people that came along the way and helped me to develop the method, whether it’s people who are there to support me, whether the person who’s doing online marketing and doing it because he volunteered to do that because he believes in the project. All these people that showed up in my life they are going like, “This needs to happen and we’re here to help you with it.” That’s quite amazing.
What do you make of that, the people that show up in your life unexpectedly to help and to support? Because asking for support is a challenge for a lot of people, and even receiving support. Forget asking, but the receiving of support, I find that many people resist that. They push it away for some reason. Do you have any thoughts on that?
I’m going to break it down to two. There is a matter of manifestation and there is a matter of asking for help. Those are two different things. When it comes to asking for help, I hate asking for help. People know that if I asked for help it means that I’m on the edge and things are about to fall completely apart. If I will not ask for help, things will fall apart. It’s you either ask for help or things will get destroyed. That’s normally the point where I would ask for help, come and say, “Can you help me with it?” I don’t like personally asking for help and it’s ridiculous because we should be able to ask for help.
The other part of this is the manifestation. When you start to go towards something and you believe in it, you manifest. It’s amazing because when you start to manifest and you’re not blocking, what you need shows up. It’s a form of asking help, but you’re not asking for the help, you’re causing it in the sense by believing that something needs to happen. You don’t know what will come your way exactly, but the world shows up.
If you could unpack that a little bit more, this idea that asking for help is something that you’re not comfortable with. A lot of people aren’t comfortable. If you’re asking for help, it is likely things are going to fall apart. Manifesting is about causation or it’s a causing of help to be received. I want to understand a little bit more of your philosophy on those.
Manifestation has to move yourself out of the way so you’re not blocking something from happening. When we have negative thoughts, when we think, “If I’m going to do this, maybe it’s not going to work.” Then we start to manifest that because we get scared but if we believe, let’s say I say now, “I need to do an interview,” and I start to work towards interviews, the world will show up. Opportunities will show up. If I’m not blocking, if I’m pure, if I’m not coming out of fear, if I’m not in the way, life will show up.
Are you also dividing the scarcity and abundance is the side of being afraid? Is resisting somehow a scarcity behavior, a scarcity mindset?
It’s linked to it. I don’t think of it as scarcity because it’s not so much of like there’s not enough in the world and everybody else had too much and now nothing’s left. It’s more it could be a fear of things that stop us, fear of rejection, fear of getting hurt, or fear of success. In my opinion, those are the things that block us more. Many people don’t manifest because they’re afraid to succeed. There’s nothing scarier than getting what you want. Not getting what you want and surviving is what most of the world are trained for. We know how to survive but when you talk about success, the biggest fear for people is to succeed, not to not succeed. They know how to survive and to suffer. That’s easy. What if you live in abundance if you get exactly what you want? That’s when people get scared and they start self-sabotage.
The more prevalent way of being for so many people is to be in struggle or to be in drama for things not going well and then therefore, to be experiencing some form of pain and that’s more familiar.
We’re not being taught to think and live in greatness. Are we being taught in school to be great? Where are we being taught to be great? Where do we get the skills of being great? That doesn’t happen unless you take that on as a person or if you had an amazing family that by coincidence had that knowledge and pass it onto you, but most people don’t live in greatness. They live in survival. “I need to pay the rent and I need to do this. I need to provide.” Then you survive. It’s tough, it’s hard, it’s this, it’s that, and it is survival mode.
What was being triggered for me was this idea of scarcity, that survival mentality is very much a place of, “I have to do this or I’ll die. If I don’t keep this job, I’ll never be able to earn a living some other way. I will never be able to support my family.”
Scarcity in that way.
At least that’s what was getting triggered for me. We’re going to get into pivots and you had a significant pivot which you’ve already revealed one of your significant pivots at the beginning. To leave a very successful life, by so many standards to be doing as well as you were doing in Canada, to return to Israel to be with your father and to rebuild or to build something brand new, it took chutzpah. It took guts to do that. It took bravery to do that. It took self-confidence and self-trust to do that. It took faith, whether it’s faith in some greater force in our lives or faith in the fact that we’ll be okay. It’s an abundant mindset versus a mindset that says, “I better stay in Canada. I’ll go visit my dad. If I don’t get back here, everything will fall apart.”
It’s a commitment to live from the heart. I’m committed to living from the heart and living as authentically as I can so that life feels honest and it feels like I’m living as who I am. I started laughing because there was a point in the first year where I was such a rock star in my success. I was at the point where I said, “It happened. Everybody was listening to me.” Then I went to the point where everything was failing and that was so good for my ego. It was fantastic because I had to deconstruct myself. The funny thing is that every time it got tough and I was like, “How am I going to make it again?” I looked at my TED, I watch my TED again and I said, “Chen, you did this and you chose to make this change. No one forced you to do it. It was a choice. Own it.”
Sometimes we have to go back to our own words and eat them in a good way. Sometimes they say eating your words is like the equivalent of swallowing your pride or admitting you’re wrong. Sometimes it’s dawning on me that eating your words is eating your own cooking, eating the advice that you’d give to other people or to yourself.
I made that choice. I stuck by it. I did what I needed to do to keep myself strong during those times. I did it once. I could do it again. I had to keep focused no matter how long it takes. It took a couple years to get there and it was a rough journey, but I made it.
Share a little bit about somatic intelligence and I want to go through a few of the pivot points in your life. In this community, we’ve got a lot of amazing people who are doing amazing things, they’ve had amazing difficulties, amazing challenges, incredible pivots and they’re evolving, vulnerable. They’re both believing and wanting to believe at a deeper level that you can follow your heart. What we are talking about in so many ways is this journey out of a garden of the heart and moving into a guidance of being guided by the heart. What is somatic intelligence?
Somatic intelligence came to life out of a journey that I took that’s full of pivot points. I started traveling to Cuba to train in dance because I had a Cuban dance academy in Canada for ten years. It was very successful. I traveled back and forth to Cuba and I’ve been doing this for thirteen years training in Cuba. There was something that was calling me to come back all the time. At the time, I thought it was the dance, I thought it was the seduction, which is what the power of seduction in our everyday life, the TED Talk is all about. I talk about how Cubans in their culture see seduction very differently than in the western world where people consider that to be a manipulation, robbing people of things and using that as a negative thing.
Suddenly you see that in the seduction that they see and how they view it through their culture, there is pride and elegance. There is something about who they are being that gives them more confidence. That confidence affects every area of your life, whether it’s a relationship or whether it’s work. You show up differently. I talked about how seduction is a very important life skill, how it can be viewed in a whole other way, and how the fact that in Cuba, because there’s no advertising at all because it’s a communist socialist country that got stuck 50, 60 years ago, body image is not deformed the way we see it because of advertising. They’re clean. It’s a pure place where you go no advertising, nothing on the radio, nothing on TV, nothing in the streets, no advertising. The body image is healthy.
That was what the TED Talk was about. Eight million people spoke to me about what I talked about in my TED Talk and they had many questions that they didn’t have answers to. I went back and I started investigating a lot deeper and asking new questions. Over time, I realized that there was something that got conserved in Cuba. I could see it on myself because the transformation that I went through to what I learned there, certain things got conserved through the body language in Cuba that got changed in the Western world that affects the human happiness that we can’t live without.
To give you an example, the past generations were very elegant. The way they talked, moved and everything was here. We don’t think of elegance as a way of being. We think, “It was that generation.” That elegance is a power pose. I don’t know if you saw Amy Cuddy’s TED Talk when she talks about how two minutes in a power pose changes the chemistry in the body, changes the behavior and changes the results. Elegance, the way the body used to be held is a power pose, which gives us emotional sturdiness, for example. The element of intention gives us drive and meaning in life and gets us with that force of doing forward. Then you’ve got the tempo, which is all about enjoyment and releases dopamine and endorphin into the body and causes the natural high. That used to happen naturally for us because we were enjoying life more because life was slower. There was more time to take breaks, enjoy it, be with family, have little parties and little moments.
These things used to happen. There’s the sabrosura, which is the sensuality that’s inside each and every one of us. There’s a female form and there’s a male form that also releases dopamine and endorphin to the body and causes the natural high which affects our self-love and self-worth as well. There’s the mystery, which is that’s spiciness on top. These five elements each has basically a benefit attached to it and when they’re calibrated, it creates this natural flow. This is what true nature is when we’re balanced and when we’re in the authentic place that’s right for us. That’s where we are more who we are and we connect deeper with other people. That’s where the magic happens. If you look at it, you’ll see that each one of these has a dial with a minus and a plus. These dials, the way we know how much of each we need depends on these three things. Life stage in my twenty, 30, 40, 50, 60 and what is happening in my life right now.
Say what it is on the diagram so that we can pick it up.
They can also go on the website, PowerofSomaticIntelligence.com and look at our method and see it at the same time if they want to. Under Experience, they will see our method. They will see this diagram there, so they can actually watch it. We have five different dials that we can turn up and down and then there’s a circle in the middle that creates a flow of the benefit that we have and these three things affect how much for each one. Life stage is about what point in our life. “Am I going through a crisis? Am I going through something exciting in my life? What age am I at?” We need different things at different ages. Cultural identity is where I’m coming from. For example, you’re from the US. Have you lived always in the US?
No, I lived in Europe as well.
The fact that you lived in Europe means you had more exposure to that element of elegance that I talked about because Europeans are more elegant inner being. Your culture identity is not just American. How you meet this is different as a result. We have our self-identity and the self-identity has to do with my personality, the values that I grew up with at home if I’m a man or a woman, and religion. What I did was dig into a place, I’m going with a time machine back, and I get to compare between what the world used to be and where the world is now. I go back and forth constantly to investigate what was there that worked better that we lost as a result of the lifestyle that we could bring without having to change everything and go back to living the way it was. That’s what power somatic intelligence is all about.
I’m fascinated. I have not been to Cuba. It’s a place that I would love to visit soon. I love Cuban food. You said that there’s no advertising. It’s basically a place where people are or not being influenced by the marketing machine. I say it that way because for our audience, we know how often we’re marketed to. I stopped keeping track but at some point, a few years ago, they said more than 3,000 times a day, the average person has some marketing message put in front of them.
In some places, it even goes up to 10,000. It used to be about 500 in the ‘70s, just to compare.
There’s a link between the body language and the body image is what you said. The Cuban people have a certain body image and a certain elegance in their physical stature, the way they present themselves physically. There’s a difference between that state of being and where other people are living outside of Cuba who are marketed to and have messages about what they’re supposed to look like. I assume that’s what you mean. These advertisements of, “This is what health looks like, this is what beauty looks like.” Could you make more connections?
There are two parts to this. One is that advertising plays a big part. It’s not just elegance. It’s those five elements. You see that Cubans have those five elements a lot more than other places. It doesn’t mean that we don’t have those elements, but what is the first thing that people do when they get stressed these days? They shrink in with the body. It’s like, “I’m tired,” or we drop. This is what makes me stronger, but it’s the five elements. The other thing that you have to understand is that what happens when we don’t have material things, what do we turn to?
We turn inside and we turn to each other so we have deeper connections with other people and we also have a deeper connection with ourselves.
It’s not just advertising, but this is a place where the government controls things and they wanted people to remain revolutionized. There was no access to goods and suddenly the only thing left, everybody in the same situation is community, solidarity, family and evolving more on the emotional side. Cubans took these elements to a whole new level of evolvement that didn’t even exist in the ‘50s and ‘60s because they had been working with these things on such a deep level not even thinking about it’s what they do.
Just to give an example, Cuba has so many professional dancers. All education in Cuba is free at the expense of the government and you have to train seven years full-time to become a professional dancer. They teach these elements in school. You’ve got so many dancers out there and people are walking with these elements and other people that don’t dance see it. They also have it and then parents teach it and it goes in a generation. Instead of it fading away, it becomes bigger and bigger with time.
How long did you spend in Cuba?
The last thirteen years I’ve been going back and forth. They started with two weeks and ended up with four months a year.
I’m sure that the audience is fascinated. I’m fascinated with Cuba for a variety of reasons. One thing that I am not interested in is in the form of government. Not to get political, I’m curious what you think are the benefits. Could you detect that the way that community has been created has benefited them more than it has detracted from personal freedoms they would otherwise have?
I don’t think you can put it like that because Cubans do wish for the same freedoms that we do. I’m not here to say that Cuba is better than us. It’s a system and in that system, there are pluses and minuses. There are pros and cons. Like our system, there are good things about our system and there are bad things about our system. What I do know is that once they will open up more and there will be internet and people run faster, they will lose some of it.
When our kids were little, as is the case for anybody who’s ever I had small children around them, you can give them something like a box. It was like the dishwasher would arrive and there will be a big box. Then that box would be used by our kids for weeks. We couldn’t throw it away because they turned it into a playhouse. They turned it into a spaceship, it turned into all these amazing things. Yet for holidays, they get gifts and sometimes they’re complicated, expensive, lots of parts and things to put together. It was fun for a while and then they would sit on a shelf. It would be something they became bored with. The box was endlessly fascinating. It’s not the place of either of us at the moment or the show anyhow to comment on the political aspects.
I’ve spent time in communist countries and every time I’ve been to one, whether it was China or Vietnam, I found that people wanted exactly the same things. They wanted the same things that I’ve grown to want growing up in the United States. These folks were very entrepreneurial, but they wanted all the same opportunities for personal growth, for love, connection, and everything else. There’s an interesting thing going on there with us, sometimes too much is not necessarily a good thing. When we have too many options, sometimes maybe it’s not a good thing.
What’s interesting is that when I came back from Cuba, it happens to me every time. If we talked about gratitude before, I look at my life and I go like, “It’s amazing the things that I have in my life.” Because you’re in a place where in the summer there won’t be red tomatoes and if there’s cheese in a supermarket, there would be one type, not 200 of them. Sometimes the stream in the shower where you’re staying is low and you’re washing your hair and it takes forever. I come back and then it’s like I go into the shower room and go, “That’s good.” I go to my bed and I fall on the fluffy pillows and I go like, “That feels like five stars right now.” In the tomatoes, I indulge and I go like, “How much do I take you for granted every day?” Because we assume it’s supposed to be there but if someone takes it away from you suddenly and you go like, “We are so rich, but we’re so ungrateful.”
It’s an interesting relationship between those things. My dad has always said that there’s a front and back to everything. What I love about that philosophy of whether it’s yin and yang or front and back, that it’s not good or bad, it’s not right or wrong either. It’s this harmony between things. The having and the not having, the gratitude and the taking things for granted I suppose. When I lived in England, it’s many years ago, they had no cable at the time. It was BBC and there were three or four BBC channels. At home, it’s like hundreds of channels and whatever. Bruce Springsteen says, “200 stations with nothing to watch.” All this stuff yet not a lot of substance in every one of those things.
At the end of the day, the question is does it make us better people?
What does the word somatic mean?
Somatic comes from the word soma, which means body. It means that it’s taught through the body through experiencing. What is so powerful about this is that if I taught you emotional intelligence by speaking to about things and explaining the concepts, they go, “That’s nice, but I don’t know if I’ve fully got it.”
It’s intellectual, it’s in the head. The soma and embodiment.
If you’re feeling it through the body, you understand it faster. It’s not for nothing that you tell kids “Don’t touch that, that’s going to burn.” They still touch it. Why? Because he’s never had that experience to understand what that means that it’s going to burn and hurt. Once they do, they already know. The same as if you would never fall in love. I now told you what it would feel like to fall in love and go like, “That sounds sweet,” but one time of feeling through the body, you get it. You learn things through the soma, through the body. It hits us much quicker. It’s like the penny drops and sometimes they drop quick because your body makes you feel it and as a result, you understand what it means. It clicks.
When I first heard the term, I have some friends that did also trained in that field as well. The thing that stuck with me was understanding it was like eating food. You cannot taste through a book. You can read about food, you can read recipes about great food, but you will not understand what food tastes like or the experience of food unless you taste it.
You can imagine that for feelings, emotions and insights. It’s like I can take somebody into my studio and work with that person based on an assessment that we do with them. I will see exactly what is missing for them and where they’re struggling and finally I will teach them something through the body and they will get it. I had a woman who came in here and she had a mother who adopted her without wanting to. Her husband told her because she couldn’t have kids if they didn’t adopt, he would divorce her. She agreed to adopt but she didn’t want to adopt. She wasn’t able to give that child the love that she wanted because it was against her will and she still went on with it. That child who wasn’t a child anymore, she came to me. She was between her twenties and her 30s.
She struggled with self-love, her image and self-worth. When I saw where she was emotionally, the first thing I took her was into the sabrosura because the sabrosura releases self-love in the body. I started doing exercises with her that you have to open up the heart to feel it. What was amazing was that she suddenly looks at me and she goes like, “What is this thing I’m feeling?” I said to her, “Where do you feel it in your body right now?” She said, “In my stomach and in my chest.” I said, “What are you feeling?” She said, “It’s like a heat wave.” I said, “That’s self-love.” She started crying and she said, “Am I ever going to feel it again?” I said, “Yes, it’s in your body. I’m showing you how to tap into it. It’s always there to tap into. I didn’t give it to you. I showed you how to release it yourself.” Sabrosura comes from the word sabor, which is flavor. Imagine if we had flavor, that would be sabrosura.
What does that equate to in English?
There is no word for it.
This is a feeling though to describe it. It’s something we feel.
It’s a sensuality that is inside us that when we tap into it, it releases endorphins and dopamine in the body and releases self-love.
Which are the chemicals that make you feel happy, for those of you that don’t know.
They create a natural high. That’s very linked to our inner rhythm of enjoyment. The sabrosura, they go together. When we’re in a state of enjoyment, we’re taking something, we’re allowing ourselves to reach a state of true pleasure and that releases dopamine and endorphin. That’s a whole other thing to learn is how to reach that state because we’re not tuned to that.
I love to tie things back in where it’s possible. We opened a loop at the beginning of our conversation about the difference between scarcity and abundance. You are using different language to describe this idea that there is a difference between manifesting something for ourselves and/or coming from a place of needing and asking. It sounds like what you described is that’s a feeling of receiving.
Not just receiving or taking. The reason I use the word taking is that you’re not just receiving, you’re not just sitting there and someone is giving it to you. You have to give it to yourself and give yourself the permission to indulge that much. That’s the hardest thing for people, especially for women because they’re so used to giving or even receiving okay but taking.
It’s interesting you are using that word specifically because we do have challenges. Many people have challenges in receiving and being great receivers.
Receiving is passive. Someone is giving it to you and you’re there and you go, “I’m going to open to receive it.” To reach the state that I’m talking about, you have to take it because you have to cause yourself to reach that state. You’re taking.
Take it for yourself.
The ultimate pleasure is when you’re taking for yourself. It’s the same as when people are afraid to be seen when they’re having an orgasm. Why? Because they’re taking it at that moment for themselves. That’s almost a feeling for some people like it’s a selfish thing. It’s not.
Why can’t it be a selfish thing? Just thinking it’s the selfishness itself is something that we judge as bad.
It’s the word selfish that sounds bad to us. If I take for myself, what I’m trying to say that it’s not a selfish thing in the sense of like, “It’s not.” For me, it’s at your expense, which is what we think about when we think selfish. It’s like, “I can indulge here and I’m not hurting anybody by doing that.”
This is taking for yourself that does not take away from anyone else.
On the contrary, when you’re in that state, what happens is we become more generous. You want to give more because you feel so good.
It’s difficult to give something that you don’t possess yourself.
What are you referring to right now?
What I’m referring to is if you want to be a great giver of love, for example or something else, it’s impossible to me to give something you don’t have an experience of yourself. While seemingly selfish or you could call it selfish, it’s a way that you’re able to learn something, understand something or experience something that you’re able to then give to other people. How do you get something you don’t understand?
If you’re not happy then how can you give others? What do you have to give?
What you have to give is what you said at the very beginning, which is the more prevalent experience of struggle, that you can give. You understand that. You have a felt experience, a somatic experience of what struggle feels like or pain or suffering.
Our body is constantly practicing something. We can choose for it to be something positive or something negative. If you’re constantly practicing struggling, that’s what you’re practicing from morning to night. I can decide that I’m going to now, for example, practice enjoyment and learn how to reach that state of enjoyment. From that place, I become a lot more generous. I’m still practicing. I’m practicing something that I’ve put into play instead.
Our body is constantly practicing something. It’s a great question to ask as you are watching this, what is it that your body is practicing? Is there are a way for us to understand? Because I’m sure people like me are going, “I love to know what my body is practicing.” It was my body practicing tension, for example, so many people feel the tension in their bodies.
A lot of people practice stress. It’s like, “I’ve got to do this. I’ve got to do that.” You’re practicing stress all the time. Some people when it’s negative stuff will practice conflict. A good way to know what you’re practicing is to look at your relationships and the quality of them or the lack of and then see what shows up based on that. That’s a mirror into what you’re practicing, your connections with other people.
I want to make sure that we cover some of the landscape of your pivots as well.
Powerful pivots, I have so many of them. My whole life is a result of the fact that my mom got mentally sick when I was eleven years old. She became a manic depressive. She was one of the most incredible women I’ve ever met before she was sick. She was a real role model for me. I lost her to her illness. As a result, I spiraled down. I lost control of my life. Not that I fully had it as a child because I was depending on somebody else but because my mom was sick, so my system was unhealthy. Everything got broken. I started having suicidal thoughts at a very young age. I suffered ten years of suicidal thoughts. There was a point where after ten years, I hit rock bottom and that was a major pivot point in my life.
I sat on a street corner in the sun and I asked myself, “Do you want to live or die?” It was a plain question, “What do you want? Because I couldn’t continue like this, I had to make a decision about my life.” I sat there for an hour and just asked myself the question, “Do you want to live or do you want to die? What do you want to do because it’s impossible to keep surviving?” After about an hour, this answer came and it was this burst of like, “I haven’t done this yet.” I understood that there were so many things that I still wanted to do and to achieve in my life that it wasn’t my time.
As a result, I made a decision that I would not give up until I find a way to resolve this. That’s what led to the next ten years of my life. I was turning every stone possible, going to every specialist possible, doing any workshops that I could do to understand how to resolve that internal mess that got created. Nobody knew how to resolve it because everything was broken. Trust was broken. Boundaries were broken. Everything was broken.
It took me five to six years to learn how to put healthy boundaries. When we look forward, it’s such
a pivot point because not only did I make a decision and that influenced my perseverance, which is sick. If I set my mind to it, everybody, get out of the way. Ten years and I didn’t give up. What’s another five years, ten years or twenty years, I’ll do it. Also if you think about it, the power of somatic intelligence is not just the stuff that I’ve learned in Cuba, but it’s the accumulation of my whole journey in life and all these amazing tools that I’ve gained over so many years that I feel the impact. I have this mix that very few people have as a result that’s rockstar.
You didn’t pivot once either. It’s not like you’ve got through that period and then everything was fine.
I pivot every once in a while. There was a point where my mom died about fourteen or fifteen years ago of cancer. That was one of the most excruciating experiences I’ve ever had because I was with her the last final ten days. She was very sick and she was throwing up the medication that was balancing her mental illness. It was extremely difficult because I couldn’t complete any conversation which happens to a lot of people at the end where they complete something. I saw her at the end and she got this moment of how they say your whole life flashes through in front of your eyes. She got that. She regretted everything. It wasn’t her, it was her illness that causes everything, but she regretted everything.
It was so painful seeing this at the end and when someone dies in your life that’s so close to you, there is an opening that happens to people. You get shaken. You wake up for a moment, you see an opening and you see a big insight into your life. Most people fall asleep right after. That opening gives you an insight that could lead to an incredible transformation in your life. What I saw was what my life would look like at the end if I didn’t make changes right now. Seeing what she felt, I realized, “If I don’t explode on my dreams at the end of the line, I’m going to feel exactly like her.” That was a beautiful gift she gave me. I decided that I wasn’t falling asleep after that. I wasn’t doing what most people do, which is basically to, “Now let’s numb it. I’m not in pain anymore. Let’s forget about what happened.” From that moment on, I started exploding on my dreams and you gave the list of half of them that happened already. There’s another half that’s about to happen. This is exactly it. Grab it. Start to implement that into your life. Don’t just see it. Do something with it.
I don’t know that you could put one pivot experience ahead of another because they are all built on each other. They’re all important. That one sounded important to me that you got to look at what the future holds, not necessarily for you, but possibly for you that you could go down that same road of getting to the end and then having this regret. I said this to our daughter who lives up in the Bay Area. Her boyfriend is a great young man. I was saying to him, “Just take a look at the people in the field that you are in. Look at where they are twenty years, 30 years from now because they’re a great role model for what your experience will be like. If that’s the experience you’re wanting, then, by all means, go for it.”
That’s a great example of what you could navigate toward but if it’s not what you want, then the idea of settling for that because you don’t have a better idea in the moment or that might be good enough thing, you blink your eyes and you’ll be there. That’s what happens, we blink and it’s ten, twenty, 30 years later and you could end up with quite a bit of regret. You had this pretty stark moment with your mom where she was leaving and had regret to share with you. What was the result of that? Did you decide to make a change?
I started exploding my dreams. I used to be in the animation industry. I left the animation industry already and I was planning on creating some product that will make a difference in the world. It took me fifteen years to get to where I am, but I created exactly that vision. It’s interesting because it was fifteen years ago that I started this and I left the animation, I did business school, I started working on what the business would be, and it eventually evolved into what it is today. It’s interesting because when I launched the Power of Somatic Intelligence, I was like, “That’s the vision from fifteen years ago.” I have a binder that I created at the time, it’s called Getting the Life You Want. I wrote down all these things that I thought that I might want to do and I start doing informational interviews and all these things.
When I opened the binder and I started looking at it, half of it happened. I became a best-selling author. I’ve written there to speak in front of crowds and become an inspirational speaker. It’s written and developed. I own workshops that would be body and mind connection and driving them around the world, make a difference and transform people’s lives. There are a couple that didn’t happen, which is fine, but it’s to show you the power of intention. For me, I live by my pivot and I’m grateful for these moments. I have so many of them that we’re getting you a whole show for the pivot points.
One of the things that I realized from all of the adversity that happened in my life, because I hugged it and I said, “This is not going to dictate my future. I’m going to dictate my future. The biggest thing that I had to do is learn how to stop being a victim.” I had every reason to be a victim because I was a child, but there comes a point where you’re not a child anymore and you can’t carry that over into your adulthood, you have to take responsibility. That was the hardest thing because I didn’t have the tools because I grew up into this, so I was a victim. How do you come out of being a victim to taking responsibility? That was my biggest pride and journey to find the tools to do that, but what it taught me that was amazing was what I call now the super positivity mindset. What I know now that I didn’t know then is that life throws your way all sorts of situations. Sometimes you like them, sometimes you don’t. Sometimes they’re completely unfair. You might lose your legs, you might become disabled. You might lose somebody that you love, that was the love of your life, whatever it is, our job is to find inspiration for what happened. It doesn’t matter how traumatic it was. Our job is to find inspiration in that.
I had a terrible accident with my arm. A year later, I’m still in physiotherapy. I worked towards the end, but I was told to put my arm on a pillow and that for the next few months I couldn’t move at all and they didn’t know if I would recover. This is my strong arm and I work with my body daily. Everybody was like, “How come you’re not depressed?” I said, “Because I made a decision. I know what it’s like to be depressed and I know the road down and how hard it is to come up. If I go down that road, I’m using all the energy in my body that can now be used to heal. I can only heal as far as my body would allow for it. If there will be a disability of the end, I can’t control it. I will do the maximum not to end there but if at the end I end up with a disability, I have to recalculate my starting point, the status quo changes. Then I have to accept, adapt and live from there because if not, then I’m losing my life, I’m wasting my life.” I’m teaching this now in retreats. I’m going to teach the super positivity and the body motion that releases dopamine and endorphin. It’s a way of looking at life where no matter what comes at you, you stay on top.
It sounds like the way you define a pivot is to embrace, to accept, adapt and live from there. Those were the three things you said. Is there anything missing in that formula, with that equation? You’ve been a perennial or a repetitive pivoter. You’ve pivoted lots of times in your life and while it’s not been easy, you strike me as a happy person or joyful.
I am in a good place in my life. The one thing I’m proud of is where I got myself to because I didn’t have an easy start and we could stay in a place where there’s trauma or there’s still hurt and I’ve let go of it. I truly let go of it. One of the things why I created the Power of Somatic Intelligence is because the information that I found helped me heal the trauma for my body and it’s clean. I’ve got 2% hiding somewhere, but I’m trying to dig and dig and I can’t find it. It’s like in all honesty, it’s not fake if you can see.
It’s who I am and it’s where I’m at. Super positivity is about learning how to constantly adapt to what is thrown your way and accept it with love. I did not ask for half of these things. I definitely didn’t ask for that for that injury a year ago, but I can tell you that because I embraced with love wood, I declared turning it into inspiration. I declared two months of personal development. Life gave me an opportunity to do personal development for two months instead of being busy. I sat down and started personal developing.
When I look at this, Power of Somatic Intelligence might have come out three years later if not that period where I suddenly was intensely into personal development, I always fitting and the only thing I could do was think strategies, plan and grow and evolve. If I was to be depressed at home, I missed an incredible opportunity in my life that led to all this magic that is happening now. At the end of the day, I cannot change what happened. You change the results, I was doing everything possible to change it and my body could only get to where it could get.
Your recipe is to accept and embrace with love what is in the moment, adapt and create inspiration.
You have to create a context for it.
The adapting phase is to create inspiration?
Adapting to me is about surrendering. Surrendering, not by losing your power, but by accepting. Adapting is accepting it with love. It’s just, “I’m letting go into it.” This is the new status quo. I will do what I can within this to live the best life I can. I still need to create an intention. The intention is the inspiration.
Embracing it, embodying it, letting go of it, surrendering to it. Is that a way to embody something? Surrender is a word that sometimes people see as negative like, “I’m quitting. I’m giving up.”
It’s not about, “I’m giving up. I surrender to it.” It’s like, “I’m giving myself to it.” Embodying that love that you put in there is about this becoming something that I wear like a shirt and it feels like it’s me. It’s not foreign to me. It might feel strange at the beginning because it’s not our habit to do it, but the body practices a habit all the time. Let’s put a good habit in there.
You mentioned the morning ritual. You can speak about that or some other ritual that you’ve got but those master habits that you have that you’ve created to keep yourself in that positive, that super positive mindset.
I start every morning with at least fifteen minutes, sometimes half an hour but if I am short, even five minutes is good. First of all, I center myself. I do breathing exercises, pushing 50 breaths out. At the end of it, I concentrate on a mantra of feeling secure and safe. It’s almost still inside me. I go like, “Secure and safe.” I create that. Then I find that core in me. If I feel there’s rumbling inside, I’ll meet my little girl and I’ll give her some of my strength because we all have a little boy or little girl. When we feel rambling it’s usually when they feel something.
I’ll meet her out, sit in front of her and through the eyes and the arms, I’ll give her my energy to lift her up. It usually feels like if she’s rambling that she is the younger version of me and then I was bringing her up to my age by giving her the energy. The beauty of it is because I do it so much sometimes, I’m the one that comes in like this and she’s the one that lifts me. We switch roles. I finish it with gratefulness and I find things to be grateful for. I make sure to say thank you not for good things but also to adversity.
We had someone on our show. He was talking about giving gratitude. He’s from Japan, especially in connection with finances that when money comes he says, “Arigato,” when money leaves, “Arigato.” He gives gratitude to the whole process.
You can’t say thank you to the good things, you also have to say thank you in super positivity, to the things that seem like a bad thing. They propel us forward if we embrace them like that, embody the change.
I love how we unpack that. What a pleasure to have you on the show. Chen, you’re lovely. Thank you.
Thank you. We wanted to give the audience the gift.
We have a gift for everybody and it’s at SomaticGift.com. What will people get?
I made them a beautiful gift of six insights of how to embody your true nature and things that people can start practicing right away so they can start putting new habit. We talked about the fact that the body practices all the time, so I gave them six insights that they can start putting into their life, so they’ll have better true nature, they’ll have better habits and that they’ll practice something good.
We all want and we’ll benefit from practicing something good. I will remind that our body is constantly practicing. What a perfect way to take what we’ve been talking about and then bring it to another level of experience. You can do that. These six insights are available, they’re free. Thank you so much for bringing that.
It is not just about understanding them, it’s about embodying them.
Thank you again. I hope you’ve enjoyed this episode. I enjoyed this conversation. I know I have. If you have not yet subscribed, please go ahead and do that. If you’ve not left a review, we’d love for you to leave an iTunes review about the show or about the other shows. You can go to AdamMarkel.com and leave comments there. We will respond to those as well. You can join our Facebook community by going to Start My Pivot community or you can go to PivotFB.com and get right to the front door of that group as well.
I want to leave everybody with the ritual that started my day-to-day and has started my day for nine or ten years at this point. It’s very similar to the ritual Chen was sharing with us as well. I truly believe that the beginning of the day is probably the most important part of the day. Not that every part isn’t important, but there is something very special about those first thoughts. The analogy that I use is like planting seeds. The most fertile time for us to plant seeds in our mind is that waking time. It’s also pretty fertile right before we go to sleep. There’s a lot going on when we’re sleeping that we don’t understand. There’s been a lot written about it. There’s a lot of mystery around it but for me anyway, those first thoughts are super important. There are three pieces to that ritual, which is first of all that everybody wakes up.
This is my wish. I get to do this because I have the microphone. I get to have the gift of a magic wand and for you, Chen, and for everybody that’s reading for all of us my wish, my prayer, and my hope is that we all get to wake up tomorrow. There’s no guarantee of that. Just by reason of the fact that you’re reading now, we woke up today and that was not guaranteed. It’s not guaranteed tomorrow. When we are having that first awake breath, that first aware of breath, there’s something that we can realize and that is that there are people who will be taking their last breath at that moment. There were also going to be many babies being born, taking their very first breath in that one moment, so it is truly sacred.
It’s a holy moment, very special. Regardless of whether your back is aching or whether you’ve got enough sleep or you didn’t get enough sleep or you’ve got a challenge in your life or there’s something joyful that you’re excited about or whether you’re not so excited to wake up as so many people are struggling either on a temporary basis or even for some length of time with depression or feeling a lack of enthusiasm for their job or for other things going on in their life. Whatever that might be for you this is a moment we all get to share, which is a moment that that is sacred, it’s connected.
As we take that breath, as other people are taking that deep breath, we can be in deep gratitude for it to appreciate our lives, to appreciate anything that we wish to at that moment, whether it’s your family, whether it’s the breath you’re taking, whether it’s the fact that you’ve got another day. How special is that? We are in gratitude at that moment and then if you’re willing to say it, these words have changed my life. I want to share them with you now. You get to try them on for size. If they work for you, keep doing them. If they don’t work, then you stopped doing it. It’s simple. The words are, “I love my life.”
It’s been an absolute blessing and a joy to spend time with all of you. I certainly love you and want to share that. I hope that you share your love with other people. Have a beautiful rest of your day and many blessings to all of you. Ciao for now.
About Chen Lizra
Chen Lizra – TED Speaker, award-winning social entrepreneur, Somatic Intelligence life coach, best-selling author & professional dancer. Chen helps people come back to their true nature through the Power of Somatic Intelligence. She specializes in transforming people’s lives by changing behavioral patterns for the better, through bodywork and experiencing. She offers Somatic Intelligence workshops, one on one coaching sessions, training programs and keynote speeches, using the unique one-of-a-kind method she developed – The 5 Elements of Somatic Intelligence. She works with individuals, organizations and events in order to cause deep transformation. She has one of the most talked about TED talks with 8 million views and she is a best-selling author. She was featured in the New York Times, Cosmopolitan in the UK, Ego magazine in Spain, Globe and Mail in Canada, to name a few.