Research Paper By Dawn Weaver
(Life Coach, UNITED STATES)
Some say meditation has the power to lead one to their path of enlightenment. It certainly has the capacity to affect in a manner that draws all thoughts to the present moment. The present moment proves itself to be a key factor in making informed decisions and in taking appropriate action for the highest purpose in an individual’s life. As a tool used by both coach and client an ability is gained to become fully engaged in the “Now”! Inside of this present moment awareness an idea is born of one’s greatness – one’s unlimited potential. An idea of who one wants to be and how they show up in the world. Meditation opens a door and along with it an opportunity to step into this greatness.
Coaching is a profession that enables and supports individuals to bring to light their own knowledge, ideas, awareness, creativity, insights and perspectives in a thought-provoking process that inspires personal and professional learning and development. Coach and author, Alan Seale, 2003, says
a free life is one that is ever expanding, renewing, discovering, revealing and becoming.(p.13)
This is coaching inside the model of paradigm shifts through practicing presence.
This research paper will explore meditation as an approach to practicing presence in coaching. Practicing presence is a core competency with International Coach Federation (ICF) and by emphasizing the practice of presence through meditation as a coaching tool to move an individual forward is the basis of this paper.
Your vision will become clear only when you look into your heart. Who looks outside, dreams, who looks inside, awakens. (www.undefineme.com)
Meditation as a Tool for Practicing Presence
Meditation is defined as: to engage in contemplation or reflection for the purpose of reaching a heightened level of awareness. (Merriam Webster Collegiate Dictionary, p. 722) It is about consciousness and silencing the mind. When the mind is silent we experience inner peace in the midst of outer chaos. (www.pickthebrain.com)
Presence based coaching with the use of meditation is an approach to increasing present moment awareness. This has the capacity to move one from a state of “doing” to “being” with an emphasis on what one does and how one does it. (Topp, 2006) By living in the present moment one has the capacity for a new perspective. It is easy to lose perspective when faced with challenges or obstacles. Meditation can help alleviate the anxieties around a situation by bringing you to the only moment there is – the present moment. Inside the present there is no resistance but clarity and calm to provide resolution to seeming chaos.
Meditation as a practice of being in the present moment allows you to disidentify with your thinking mind. The philosopher Descartes believed that he had found the most fundamental truth when he made this statement:
I think, therefore I am.
In Eckhart Tolle’s book, The Power of Now , he states this is the most basic error: to equate thinking with Being and to identity ourselves with thinking. He goes on to say that most humans are compulsive thinkers which binds us in a constant state of conflict. (p.12) When we allow ourselves the gift of coming to the present moment this being brings about a state of consciousness or truth of who we are – whole and complete with unlimited potential waiting to burst forth.
Where you end up isn’t the most important thing. It’s the road you take to get there. The road you take is what you’ll look back on and call your life. (Tim Wiley)
Coaching with Meditation
Meditation as a tool has two positions. A tool for the coach before beginning a session with a client and as a tool for the client during the session with the coach. First, we will look at the coach using meditation as a practice of presence before beginning a session. This is an opportunity for the coach to come to their present moment. An opportunity to allow an intention to be set for how one wants to show up as a coach for their client. It is a practice of stillness and silent contemplation. By finding a quiet space and following your breath one can allow their thoughts to melt away. To allow any stresses or responsibilities to be released that may otherwise stand in the way of being fully present and living in the moment with their client. This silent contemplation has the power to release thoughts of judgment and expectations of the coaching sessions into a more relaxed state and the coach being a source of support and a fully engaged partner with their client.
Ramana Maharshi’s, one of the most venerated saints in India born in 1879, main teaching tool was Spiritual silence, through which he transmitted his state of being to others. He believed profoundly in meditation and he suggested practicing breath control, a basic form of meditation, as a way to quiet the chattering mind. Furthermore, one learns how to pay attention, how to be present, which invites holy moments and makes life much more enjoyable. (Borysenko, 1997, pp. 94-96) This presence to the coaching session allows for the coaching process to find its own way in the manner best served to the client as well as the coach.
Silence is a potent carrier of presence. To listen to the silence wherever you are, is an easy and direct way of becoming present. (Tolle)
As a tool for the client inside of a coaching session meditation has the benefit of allowing them to let go of any thoughts or concerns that happened before the session or of worries that might take place later. What this opens up is a moment where the client can voice any apprehensions about their day in order to begin their session with focus and clarity. The coach could ask a question such as,
Is there anything that you would like to discuss beforehand in order for you to be fully present?
If the client has an issue it can be briefly discussed to bring closure. This is the time where focusing in silent contemplation while bringing the mind’s awareness to their body, breath and the present moment can ground the client even further so as to be engaged fully.
Neuroscientist, Dr. Candace Pert, discovered evidence of the physical nature of emotions on our mind and body. Her research showed that emotions are neuropeptides or strings of amino acids that swim through our bodies looking to attach themselves to receptor sites on cell walls. These neuropeptides download information that affects the overall health of the cell. Dr. Pert says this explains how our emotions affect our health and our mood. (McColl, 2007, p.19)
Emotions have an energetic frequency or vibration that will draw to it other vibrations of the same frequency. For example, if you are feeling happy and joyful you will attract to you more of that same energy. If you are sending out emotions of stress, worry, or fear then the Universe in turn will give you more of that as well. The Universe does not discern between good or bad emotions. They each hold their own frequency fueled by a person feeling the experience of that emotion inside of their body.
Dr. David Hawkins refers to these emotions as attractor patterns (weak or powerful depending on the emotion.) Reflection on these emotions can initiate a consciousness-raising process, so that one gradually becomes aware of patterns operating in their lives. So, with a variation in these attractor patterns an effect of profound change is possible. (Hawkins, 2002, p.145) Through the practice of presence in meditation a client’s level of awareness is increased around their emotions. A realization happens of their opportunity to choose how they feel and what they experience.
Meditation allows a shift in perspective that emotions are temporary – they come and go which makes finding peace and acceptance of them easier. This shift gives way for the client’s capacity to create in an extraordinary fashion. They have the potential to come to the coaching session free to express once their thoughts are present to the now. Other questions that a coach could ask their client to consider in meditation are, “Is this emotion making me feel good?” or “Is this emotion serving me in the highest possible manner?” Whenever you “look” inside yourself and see what you are consciously creating between the external and internal, you are able to realize you are free to give up this conflict. (Tolle, 2003, p.63) Presence of these emotions inside of meditation helps you to notice and discover what you are feeling and then to make a conscious choice about them. The more aware you are of your emotions the better able you are to create the life you want to live – your best life.