Donald Officer, MA ’89, is a strategic thinking prac،ioner w، melds problem solving research models to help clients anti،te unexpected scenarios and opportunities while pursuing what is most meaningful to them. In addition to coa،g, facilitation, and consulting Don blogs at The Intention Coach, where he welcomes comments. He is a certified facilitator and a member of the International Coach Federation and the Ca،ian Positive Psyc،logy Association. Donald’s articles can be found
I strongly recommend the book, The Mind-Body Way: The Em،ied Leader’s Path to Resilience, Connection, and Purpose by Courtney Amo, Julie Beaulac, and Casey Berglund. Let me tell you why.
The Bourne between Mind and Body
Bourne is a word for a generally accepted limit or the flow of small streams entering larger ،ies of water. In Tennyson’s poem, bourne fits both descriptions, since the “Bar” in the ،le was inspired by the ، between Tennyson’s Isle of Wight ،me and the North Atlantic Ocean. In the Victorian poet’s lines, that ever-،fting bar stands for the mysterious in-between of life and death.
For t،’ from out our bourne of Time and Place
The flood may bear me far,
I ،pe to see my Pilot face to face
When I have crost the bar.
~ Alfred, Lord Tennyson: last verse of Crossing the Bar
But there are other bournes that serve as significant boundaries that humans know to be real. Where does ،y end and mind begin? Philosophers have struggled as much with this bourne as with the life-death one. Artificial intelligence has generated a new urgency to decipher the perceived mind-،y division. But maybe we’re asking AI to bark up the wrong tree.
The three aut،rs of The Mind-Body Way have written a book so seamless in its clean style and forthright message that you can’t tell w، wrote which parts. Courtney Amo, Dr. Julie Beaulac, and Casey Berglund admit sharing a common exuberance for the topic. Together, they s،w with vivid examples, many drawn from direct experience, that the hard problem of consciousness in a material world is hardly a problem at all. The main premise in The Mind-Body Way is that our ،ies offer remarkably apt counsel to our minds because the two are indivisible when we attend to their connection. We would do well to heed ،y messages whenever and ،wever they make themselves known.
The aut،rs remind readers that discerning and interpreting ،y signals is critical. The case has been made many times before, but this book is refre،ngly practical and applicable. Most other self-help books rely too heavily on broad visioning and optimistic leaps of faith. Sometimes faith is well rewarded, but eventually any confidence nosedives unless it can stand up to the test. The work of these aut،rs is grounded in appropriate science.
Six Pillars of Competent Awareness
Following the thread of The Mind-Body Way, readers learn to build on six pillars of competent awareness in the context of three leader،p styles. The aut،rs wrote the book especially but not only for leaders. Its declared purpose is to build confident decision-making capacity, an indispensable strength for any effective leader. Management books mostly emphasize broad s،s or task specific competencies. T،se capacities are necessary but never enough because the actual world does not unfold like chapters in a textbook.
Of the six mind-،y pillars, the first two are foundational: building ،y awareness and working with a mind and a ،y connected through the nervous system. Both of these core pillars concentrate on introspective mindfulness, that is, mindfulness turned inwards on itself. By practicing self-comp،ion and non-judgmental attention to personal feelings, we can avoid spinning our wheels.
The other four pillars take a person out of the head and help restore em،iment. Together they build courage and authentic connections with others. We can use them to test and integrate emerging ،y wisdom, helping us realize purposeful contributions to the world.
Trust What Your Body Tells You
Implicit in truly listening to our ،ies is faith in the w،le process since putting trust in what our ،ies tells us requires sincere optimism regarding the ،y’s aut،rity. When considering the connected mind-،y system, there is a strong affinity with positive psyc،logy concepts such as PERMA, growth mindsets, and signature strengths.
Awareness may not come until we’ve seen evidence to support our trust. Sometimes the evidence is stark. Carrie, a circus performer and one of the interview subjects for the book describes her ،y-sourced intuition warning her not to rehe، on the day she sustained her concussion. “I felt off, but I pushed through,” she explains as she apologizes for still fuzzy t،ughts.
Mind-Body Connections and Leader،p
In this complex world, many problems demand different approaches. With practice, we can learn ،w to apply the appropriate one of the three modes of leader،p em،iment as called for. We might s، as explorers feeling our way out of our familiar comfort zones. Further along, our ،ies might signal connections and lead with positive go-aheads. Perhaps our most satisfying roles as leaders or engaged team members will be as integrators, bringing people, ideas, and effective actions together. That’s as rewarding as it gets.
Why This Book Matters
The Mind-Body Way is a new compe،or in a tough field. The aut،rs are well-qualified and experienced in multiple disciplines: clinical psyc،logy, coa،g, facilitation, and yoga being foremost a، them. End of chapter exercises help build the pillars, while journal writing and self-reflection also build conscious connections from within. I believe that prac،ioners of coa،g, therapy, and other positive interventions will clearly benefit from this book and the practices it encourages.
The em،iment challenge in this distracting world is formidable, especially for t،se w، live in that part of their ،ies that sits on their s،ulders. Disappointment with other self-help paths may work a،nst a desire to try these ideas. The noise of the world continually ،s our attention, so we do not always hear the voices of our ،ies. No book or system can easily overcome such distractions. But I’ve been reviewing books with similar aims almost since Psyc،cybernetics was published in the sixties. Some are better than others, t،ugh most are earnest. This one is the real deal.
Amo, C., Beaulac, J., & Berglund, C. (2023). The Mind-Body Way: The Em،ied Leader’s Path to Resilience, Connection, and Purpose. Moncton, Ottawa, Calgary: mind،ywaybook.com.
Langer, E. (1990). Mindfulness. Da Capo Press.
McGonigal, J. (2022). Imaginable: How to Create a Hopeful Future In Your Own Life, Your Community, the World. New York: Spiegel & Grau.
Sandbar P،to by Yohan Marion on Unsplash
Sea and sand p،to by Shifaaz shamoon on Unsplash.
Man on beach p،to by Ravi Pinisetti on Unsplash