Research Paper By Angie Perez
(Life Coach, COLOMBIA)
building a life worth living Linehan, 2020
Mindfulness is the awareness of an intentional paying attention, in the present moment, without making any judgment about the experience (Kabat-Zinn, 2003).
This tool involves acceptance in which emphasizes the importance to recognize and identify the emotions and values of each moment, allowing clients to behave more efficiently and, thus to live a more balanced life. These strategies help him to accept himself, others, and the world as it is, so the use of it, aims to enable the client to acquire greater awareness of himself and the context in which is developing, adopting a posture of attending to the present moment, without making judgments, focusing on one action or thought at a time. this to find effective solutions, come into contact with the emotions and thoughts that are associated with an event that generates emotional distress. (Kabat-zinn, 2003; M. Linehan, 1993a, 1993b).
In this sense, to practice this awareness help us to focus the conscious attention on the “right here, right now” facilitating the states of “wise mind”, which are a two-way relationship between the “emotional mind” and the “rational mind”, that are stated in which the client can react appropriately, taking into account their emotional experiences, context, and strategies that may be more appropriate at the moment by moment(Kabat-zinn, 2003; M. Linehan, 1993a, 1993b).
In the coaching relationship, the goal would be to apply “mindfulness” by supporting your clients to see things as they are, rather than worrying about the future or the past. The purpose will be that the client starts exploring their feelings, recognizing and accepting the discomfort, when it arises, and understanding the experience in-depth, instead of trying to get rid of it. This is why, it is a “compassion” approach, which emphasizes acceptance and openness to guilt, shame, and criticism of one’s discomfort. Also, it helps to realize the nature of change (how they think, how they feel the body and how they interact in environments that are constantly changing)(Appel & Kim-Appel, 2009; Bowen et al., 2013; Kabat-zinn, 2003).
This is a cognitive strategy that develops a perspective that cultivates the recognition of thoughts and feelings. As I mentioned before, practicing these moment-to-moment awareness skills, it is intended to deep in the subject into the patterns of feelings, thoughts, and interactions with others, and this makes the person have the skills to choose appropriate responses that are valued as useful, rather than react automatically, as they usually do. The goal of care is to cultivate awareness of the coherent, nonreactive moment(Appel & Kim-Appel, 2009; Bowen & Kurz, 2012; Witkiewitz et al., 2005).
The coach, through dialogue, will support his client, while giving him the possibility of bringing him to the present and not directing him to his painful past, which is probably the reason why the client sometimes does not advance. In this way, the coach will help his client to clarify their feelings, thoughts, values, and perceptions, creating a safe space in which they will identify their strengths, recognize and use new tools for their social interaction.
Taking into account the coaching competencies in a coaching dialogue, we can see that all these are connected, according to my apprehension, they could have the same objective that is aimed a dialogue focused on validation and problem solving, which are essential strategies for finding the balance between change and acceptance, helping the client to obtain a fulfilling life (ICA, 2020).
Validation is an important tool in the coaching relationship, due to the acceptance from the clients, as it helps them to experience their emotions, thoughts, and behaviors that are difficult for them to understand and validate(Hadjiosif, 2013; Linehan, 1993b); on the other hand, problem-solving is the direct strategy for change because it helps to analyze in a particular way the client’s situation, describing the facts and developing effective coping strategies, propose, of course by the clients. (Linehan, 1993b).
We can evidence validation in the competencies: active listening, coaching presence, and creating trust and intimacy. Showing the importance of the clients helping them to describe and observe their own emotions, thoughts, and behaviors, for which it is significant that the coach communicates to the client that these are understandable and make sense in the context in which they are occurring. It is important to mention than when I mention validation, it is not necessarily assumed that the coach agrees with the behavior of the client, on the other hand, it determines the coach’s position aimed at the recognition and acceptance of emotions as an authentic expression of The client’s own world view and feelings, therefore, what is validated are the emotions, not the behaviors(Apfelbaum&Gagliesi, 2004; Hadjiosif, 2013; Linehan, 1993b).
Mindfulness in the coaching relationship
When the coach starts exploring with the client, he will bring awareness into the session, helping the client to connect with himself and his emotions. Here are some examples in the coaching relationship:
- Presence: to bring the client to consciously present will help him to reduce his stress, just with a fluent dialogue where the coach helps him to realize where they are now and where they want to be, creating a plan that allows the client to set the intention of the session. The coach will dance with the client, they will just dance at the moment, exploring his thoughts, feelings, and expressions during the session. Following their intuition. Opening into the unknowing and taking risks that help him to move forward. All this, without making judgments and using empathy (ICA, 2020).
- Use short mindful exercises: practicing a 5 minutes exercise with the client before or after the session, if it is necessary, will help to train the brain to drop into a mindful state. It allows the directed brain activity to bring attention to the session. This has shown that it activates medial prefrontal regions, which play an important role in two fundamental aspects of the process of self-reference and perspective-taking. Having as a result: not only, an increase in empathy and a better sense of self, but also a decrease in self-obsession, creating suffering that is generally associated with a higher degree of self-centered or balanced attention(Appel & Kim-Appel, 2009; Witkiewitz et al., 2005).
- Slow down: when both, the client and the coach are aligning with a mindful space it will help the relationship and the session to slow down, bringing space of silence in the way that the client can think and explore inside his thoughts and feelings different situations that are concerning him, helping him to follow his intuition and find a solution, reflecting on his own thoughts.
- Gratitude: an example of mindfulness is gratitude. When you are grateful you create a natural relationship with generosity and resilience(ICA, 2020). As a coach, you will be grateful for your client to be sharing his personal experiences, and as a client, you will start being grateful for the little things, such as a “good question” that helps you to reflect or realize something that you couldn’t see before.
- Active listening: here you see how the client is reacting, the coach paraphrase, and the client makes reflections about the questions given. But here, we can see an act of humility, where the client is open to accept others’ opinions or at least, paraphrase from his own words without interrupting. Mindfulness here plays an important role, it involves self-acceptance and has the possibility to be open to learn and listen from others. A conversation between two people is a bidirectional flow that constructs trust and respect from humility.
Mindfulness exercise from client and coach
Exercise with raisins: this exercise will help you to start practicing mindfulness with a very basic step, like a beginner. Here you will find my guideline to do the exerciseLinehan, 1993b:
Take a few raisins, two or three in the palm of your hand. Now, I would like to invite you to choose one of these, and in the best way, you can put all your attention on that grape for the next few minutes. First, could you simply notice the grape you picked? Is there something in that particular grape that catches your attention? Now, look at it carefully, as if you’ve never seen anything like it before. Put your full attention to observe it, perhaps taking it with the other hand and observing all its qualities. You could even imagine that you have just arrived from another planet and that your mission is to observe that object in as much detail as possible as if you had to inform your planet of all its properties. Can you feel its texture between your fingers? can you appreciate its color and faces as well as its unique shape? While you are doing this, you may also be aware of the thoughts you are having about this grape, or about exercise, or about what you are doing in exercise. You might also notice some feeling like liking or disliking the object or the exercise. Simply note these thoughts or feelings as well and, to the best of your ability, simply refocus your attention on exploring that grape.
Could you put it under the nose and inhale, noticing if it has any smell?. Could you even put it in your ear and squeeze it a little to check if something sounds?. And then take another look at it. And now, as you slowly bring that grape to your lips, notice the movement of your arm, of your hand, positioning yourself properly. And then gently place it on your lips, perceiving how you feel it there. Hold it there for a moment, aware of your feelings and any reaction you have. There may be the anticipation in the mouth, beginning to salivate.
And now place it on your tongue and hold it there to perceive how you feel it in your mouth: how is its surface? its texture? even the temperature of that object?. Now just take a bite and stop. Notice how its flavors are released, see how its texture has changed. Perhaps the object has now become two objects. Chew it slowly, noticing its real flavor and changes in its texture. You may also notice how the tongue and jaw work together to place the object between the teeth; as the tongue knows exactly where to place it while you chew. And, when you feel like you’re ready to swallow it, watch your tendency to gobble it up. Maybe you could stop before swallowing it to observe that trend. Then, as you swallow that item, feel it as best you can as it descends your throat and into your stomach. You might even feel like your body is a little bit heavier, like that little object.
- What can you do in your daily life to be mindful?
- What kind of coach do you want to be?
- What can you do to bring awareness to the session?
- What will be in your possibilities to create a mindfulness session?
- What is your purpose during your coaching sessions?
- What can you do better as a coach?
Apfelbaum, S., &Gagliesi, P. (2004). El TrastornoLímite de la Personalidad: consultantes, familiares y allegados. Vertex, XV, 295–302.
Appel, J., & Kim-Appel, D. (2009). Mindfulness: Implications for Substance Abuse and Addiction. International Journal of Mental Health and Addiction, 7(4), 506–512. DOI:10.1007/s11469-009-9199-z
Bowen, S., &Kurz, A. S. (2012). Between-session practice and therapeutic alliance as predictors of mindfulness after mindfulness-based relapse prevention. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 68(3), 236–45. DOI:10.1002/jclp.20855
Hadjiosif, M. (2013). From strategy to process: Validation in Dialectical Behavior Therapy. Counselling Psychology Review, 28(1), 72–80
Kabat-zinn, J. (2003). Mindfulness-Based Interventions in Context: Past, Present, and Future. American Psychological Association, (2002), 144–156. DOI:10.1093/clipsy/bpg016
Linehan, M. (1993b). Skills Training Manual for Treating Borderline Personality Disorder. (Guilfors Press, Ed.). New York.
Linehan, M. (2020). Building a life worth living.
Witkiewitz, K., Marlatt, G. A., & Walker, D. (2005). Mindfulness-Based Relapse Prevention for Alcohol and Substance Use Disorders. Journal of Cognitive Psychotherapy, 19(3), 211–228. DOI:10.1891/jcop.2005.19.3.211