Coquelicot Gilland

Coquelicot's work has evolved through her more than 20 years of experience of being a minister with the Association & Integration of the Whole Person (AIWP). To every session, Coquelicot brings her intuition and vast knowledge base. Then she gets out of the way to let something else arise; she makes room for a larger knowledge, and invites grace to enter. Coquelicot has a capacity for deep listening, listening beyond the limits of her personality and academic learning. By dropping and melting into something much larger than herself, she becomes simultaneously a student and a teacher, a facilitator and a catalyst. From there, she supports people to free themselves from the internal obstacles that block their innate ability to access this source directly.

The Lab Rat: How to Take a Position of Power

By John Cloud Friday, November 12, 2010

Stories about brain research can get a little boring if you just cite an endless stream of academic papers and statistics. So welcome to Healthland's latest feature: The Lab Rat. Here, I subject myself to the same kinds of psychological and neurological testing that I've been writing about for two years. Then I use that personal experience to understand more fully all the papers and statistics. That's the idea, anyway. This week, how body position affects feelings of power.

Powerful people use their bodies to convey authority in at least two ways. There's the hawk-like, leaning-forward pose, the one made famous in a 1957 photograph of Lyndon Johnson bullying a colleague, the tiny, octogenarian Senator Theodore Green. Or think of Montgomery Burns on The Simpsons — or Sue Sylvester on Glee — or Sarah Palin just as she is about to deliver a particularly good joke about Democrats.

There's also a more subtle way to convey power, which is to occupy as much space as the body can — feet on the desk, fingers interlaced behind the head, elbows expansive. You can find images of many Presidents (there are examples herehere, and here) with feet up in the Oval Office and advisers looking on with their vulnerable smiles.

Not long ago, a team of researchers from Columbia and Harvard wondered not whether power can manifest itself in posture — that seems clear — but whether the reverse could also be true. If you put ordinary people into postures associated with power — a hawk-like pose, or a feet-on-the-desk position — will their bodies respond? More powerful people — those who make more money and have higher-status jobs — reliably show higher levels of testosterone (no matter their gender) and lower levels of cortisol, the stress hormone. The Columbia and Harvard researchers reasoned that if you put people in the power postures, their hormones might respond accordingly.

A couple of weeks ago, I went to a Columbia lab and spat into a little tube to see if the researchers were right. Have you ever tried to spit on demand? It's harder than you think. Columbia professor Dana Carney gave me a piece of gum to help. In the end, I was able to spit into two tubes: one just after I arrived and then another after Carney had placed me into the power postures, the hawk one and the feet-on-the-desk one.

Carney then sent both spit samples to a lab at Penn State. We waited a couple of weeks, and when the results came back, it turned out my testosterone had doubled in the 15 minutes after I put myself into the power positions.

My response wasn't unusual. Carney and her colleagues Andy Yap at Columbia and Amy Cuddy at Harvard recently wrote a paper evaluating the responses of 42 people who underwent a test similar to one I took. The paper, which was published in the journal Psychological Science, reported that cortisol and testosterone levels significantly changed for most people after they had arranged their bodies into the power postures. The paper builds on earlier research showing that if you hold a pencil in your teeth — which forces your facial muscles to approximate a smile — you will report feeling happier.

So what do we do: hold pencils in our mouths and stand like aggressive birds? You could try that. (Please send video.) A better idea would be to think of the body and the brain as separate bureaucracies under the same government. Exercise is one good method of governing yourself; there's a reason one of the most basic exercises is called a lunge.

Carney and her colleagues have a useful phrase for how posturing the body can change the mind: they call them “the effects of embodiment.” In short, how you hold yourself out to the world matters not just to how people see to, but to your very cells.
If you are a researcher or know about interesting psychology or brain research that I could participate in (no lobotomies, please), email me:

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Coquelicot teaches didactically, experientially and by example. She brings to each session a lifetime's worth of tools, exercises and practices that I use at home to further my own development. Her genius combines intuition, sensing and a comprehensive knowledge of human emotional and biological development. What I've learned from her has not only given me a deeper understanding of my own patterns, dynamics and behaviors, it's also enhanced my understanding of others. I am a far more compassionate person thanks Coquelicot. In fact to the degree that I am a more evolved being in any regard, Coquelicot was instrumental in my transformation.

-L. M. Artist and wellness ally

"Dear God:

Please untie the knots that are in my mind, my heart and my life. Remove the have nots, the can nots and the do nots that I have in my mind. Erase the will nots,
may nots,
might nots that may find a home in my heart.
Release me from the could nots, would nots and should nots that obstruct my life.
And most of all,
Dear God,
I ask that you remove from my mind,
my heart and my life, all of the 'am nots' that I have allowed to hold me back, especially the thought that I am not good enough. Amen."
- Author unknown, The Knots Prayer

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