A Research Paper By Monica Le Crom, Transformational Coach, NETHERLANDS
Sahaja Yoga Meditation for Coaching
When I was working in the corporate world, there came a point in my life where everything was out of balance. I was working long days, had a lot of responsibilities and I would come tired and irritable home, just to work some more. I had lost myself in work and was no longer doing those things that gave me energy and joy. As a result, my relationship with my family deteriorated and the fight was the modus operandum most days. This was all made worse by my incapacity to stop the avalanche of thoughts constantly racing in my mind and as a result, I was not able to sleep more than 3 hours a night. After several months of this, my physical health and the quality of my work were deteriorating rapidly due to sheer tiredness, and it was impacting negatively both my relationships at work and personally.
In retrospective, there were a lot of disbalances going on in my life and if I had known of coaching back then, I am certain it would have helped me gain control of the situation with some focused work on my side. However, I did not know of coaching and something else that turned out to be fundamental for change, came into my life instead: Sahaja Yoga meditation. I started practicing this meditation and within a month I was back to having full 8-hour nights of sleep. That was the first astonishing visible change. But there were many other changes facilitated by this meditation, that little by little, effortlessly, and organically, brought back balance into my life.
A couple of years later I discovered coaching and decided one day I would become a coach. It took me8 years to make the step. And, if I had had a coach, I would have certainly made the step much earlier. In this paper, I would like to explore how, this Sahaja Yoga meditation practice can support the work coaching helps a person to do, and how coaching can help accelerate the changes that Sahaja Yoga takes you through. How they are mutually beneficial and support each other.
What Is Sahaja Yoga Meditation?
Sahaja means spontaneous or born within and Yoga means connection, the ultimate union with the divine or the universe, and hence, ‘liberation’ or enlightenment. This name means ‘the union which one is born with.’
Sahaja Yoga is a method of meditation that takes you beyond mental, emotional, and physical activity and allows you to experience the true self which lies within. This union is between your true self and the all-pervading power that permeates all elements of life. It is achieved through a simple meditation exercise that awakens the dormant energy called Kundalini that is within each human being. This process is known as Self-Realization. Once the Kundalini is awakened, the individual experiences a blissful state of thoughtless awareness, where the mind is silent, and they simply witness the present moment. The Kundalini can be physically experienced as a cool breeze in our hands and above the head. As people continue practicing this meditation, this motherly energy kundalini rises stronger and starts taking away disbalances and awakening and strengthening qualities within you in a spontaneous way. As a result, your life starts changing and improving effortlessly.
How Can Sahaja Yoga Meditation Practice Support the Coaching Process?
Sahaja yoga has three main means to achieve the goal of union and thoughtless awareness. They are:
- Cleansing: clearing out imbalances with simple balancing techniques and guided by kundalini energy. As the imbalances reduce both our physical and mental health improves, and we struggle less with whatever life brings us
- Strengthening: by strengthening our energy centers the Kundalini develops new qualities and strengthens the ones we already have.
- Introspecting: we see ourselves, others, and our relationships with them as a witness and we observe where the problems are and how they show up in a detached way.
These three means allow us to improve our lives and grow in a physical, mental, and spiritual sense, based on the very important notion of knowing oneself.
This practice supports and enhances the work we do as coaches in many ways.
How Does the Practice of Sahaja Yoga Support the Coach?
Sahaja Yoga calms down the thought process reducing the number of thoughts bombarding our brain at every moment.
- With this process, our focus and attention improve.
- We can listen to the client actively without our thoughts getting in the way. And if thoughts come, we can use the same meditative process of looking at the thoughts and letting them go, without going into them. We, therefore, stay in the present moment, dancing with the client.
- We become less judgmental as we develop a witnessing state, that allows us to respond rather than react to what is being said. We also become comfortable with silence, which allows for the client’s reflection.
- As the mind no longer gets in the way, we are more connected to our Self, and our intuition, which allows us to notice things we would not notice otherwise, intuitively know the way to take, what to ask, and better serve our clients.
- Our qualities of empathy and compassion develop and are strengthened.
- As our self-awareness increases with introspection, we become more aware of our state and have the tools to manage it and prepare better for our clients.
- It helps us embrace diversity too as we recognize the other as an equal spiritual being.
Herlinda Maes, Tribe & Agile coaching the corporate world, says “Sahaja Yoga meditation practice helps me to listen better, to be connected in the sense that I know better when to say something and what to say. It also makes me able to adapt quickly when change happens. And it helps me learn and implement effort in the long term, to grow and become a better version of myself, go through the pain of that effort without going so much for the quick reward developing”, in other words developing discipline and self-mastery.
Hyacinth Jones, Holistic education & life coach, tells this story of how this meditation helps her to turn around her energy when she needs it:
“I was taking part in a group session, and I could just feel myself getting quite anxious. Maybe I had arrived a little bit late, or there was somebody new coming. And on this occasion, I remember feeling a headache going on. I was just witnessing, how I was reacting: somebody would say something, and I would just grow all flustered up, wanting to say the best thing and not knowing how, and then closing and just observing myself. Normally before we start the forum, we, the facilitators, do some deep breathing, a Sahaj meditation that I guide, and it’s called Presencing. But this time we had not done it. I said to the group of participants, excuse me, we didn’t do our facilitator presenting exercise, and I’m going to have to do it. You don’t all have to do this if you don’t want to, but I will do it for myself right now because I feel, well, like I am not myself today. So, I did the meditation exercise, guiding the whole group through it, and I just found peace in this breath, without even thinking or doing anything. And then I just opened my eyes. I took a deep breath, and I just started talking. And then when we came to the end of the evening, the participants said that was amazing. It had made such a difference to me. And they could see and feel the difference in the energy.”
Hyacinth also relates the following benefits:
“To be a better coach I need to be a better person. What spiritual aspects of my meditation practice make me a better person? And how do I measure that, that I am a better person? I think it’s the ability maybe to be present and to be open, to dare to be loving, and to be loved. And, to speak boldly about spirituality, you know, and divinity. About finding the divinity within us.
And I think one of the other things is having this universal family that is the other. I’m quite international anyway, growing up in London, and it’s very easy to love very different people. It’s very easy to do that in London because it’s so diverse and cosmopolitan. And the Sahaja element, I think, really lets you see not just the humanity of another person, but also the spirit. So, you have that human side of the diversity that is there, and the adversity that is also present, and then in Sahaja Yoga, there’s that spiritual side. And to be able to combine the two, I think that gives also quite a unique perspective, where it’s not that one is better than the other, but both are integrated. We choose this, we need this, you know, and other people don’t. They’re just as cool and as advanced, they’re just as necessary in this ecosystem of existence. So, it’s really important not to feel superior. I think to feel loved, to feel necessary, to feel wanted to feel valuable and significant, are very good things that you get from practicing a kind of faith. God has given that to me through Sahaja Yoga.
How Does the Practice of Sahaja Yoga Support the Client?
- No matter what our client’s goals are, they will not be sustainable, if they don’t come from the place of the higher Self. It needs to align with their inner purpose. Finding this inner purpose and creating this connection with their inner self will be much easier when this connection is established through Sahaja yoga.
- When clients come into the session in a state of anxiety or high stress, or with a negative mindset, if they agree to it, a short meditation exercise can bring them back to a quieter state that is more conducive to self-reflection and awareness.
- Introducing them to this practice will also help clients reduce stress and the sense of overwhelm by reducing the number of thoughts. Being able to focus will help them in their goal setting and execution. Besides the stress and overwhelm will be replaced little by little with the inner peace and joy this meditation gives.
- It will open them to self-awareness through increased witnessing, and introspection, and, in turn, will facilitate the coaching process.
- As the client’s inner peace increases, his creativity will start flourishing. Creativity and flow cannot happen when you are in an inner state of war. As creativity gets strengthened, the client will be able to see problems from different perspectives and find creative solutions more spontaneously.
Herlinda Maes says: “In the corporate world it is difficult to use Sahaja Yoga because not everyone is open to meditation. The group sessions are short, one hour, so you cannot do a full meditation exercise. If you use it, it has to be very short, 1 or 2 minutes maximum and not everyone is open to it. I use it as a “reset” exercise. To bring people’s attention away from all the things in their day and stop their thoughts for a minute. To bring their attention to the present moment so they can benefit from the session that follows.”
Hyacinth Jones uses the meditation with her clients: “I guide the client through the short self-realization meditation, we put our attention inside, and on the problem he brought, but without thinking, just understanding where it is in our body. I reference the sense of peace and clarity that we are trying to get to. I always find that that is the best introduction, the best way to start. The only thing is that it can bring such a complete sense of peace that it becomes difficult to tap into the original problem that the client came with. You are feeling this experience of peace and complete faith and understanding at this moment, but how do you tangibly carry that forward into your life? How do you know now what it is that you’re still expecting to happen? And then how can you also discern what is of your creating because it’s your expectation? And how much of it have you let go of, so that what does happen becomes a path that you’re going to follow through and just be more open to being in communication with that deeper sense of yourself. And you end up feeling clearer, more open, more aware, and less stressed, surer that “whatever comes to me, I will manage”. Clients always find that the meditation was very, very powerful.”
Science and Sahaja Yoga Meditation
These positive effects experienced by coaches and clients using Sahaja Yoga techniques are backed by science as well. Several studies have been conducted by different universities on the effects of Sahaja Yoga meditation and published in different renowned scientific journals.
One of them, a study conducted at the University of La Laguna and published in the journal Neuroscience, about the human brain anatomy of practitioners of Sahaja Yoga meditation showed that a region called the rostral anterior cingulate cortex (rACC) was directly related to the ability to be in mental silence. In this rACC area, the meditating group had an average of 7.5% more grey matter than the non-meditating group. In addition, those meditators who had a deeper mental silence in their meditation in the scanner also had more grey matter in this area than those who had a less lasting mental silence. It is important to note here that according to recent scientific publications (mentioned in the study), people suffering from anxiety, depression, hyperactivity and attention deficit, psychic illnesses characterized by the difficulty of stopping the torrents of thoughts, as well as other more serious mental conditions such as schizophrenia or autism, have less grey matter in this area rACC, likewise, people who enjoy greater happiness and greater self-control of their emotions have more grey matter in this area. These findings, together with that of this study, show the importance of this rACC center as an important area of control of emotions and attention. In conclusion, the study’s findings show that mental silence experienced through Sahaja Yoga meditation is associated with the development of neural networks and areas that are crucial for the control of attention and emotions, all of which may have a positive impact on mental health directly and on physical health indirectly.
These positive effects work also with people that experience mental disorders affecting this area. For instance, another study from universities in Australia and King’s College in London showed that after introducing SY meditation as a Family treatment program for children with ADHD, children benefited from better sleep, less anxiety at home, and were more able to concentrate and have less conflict at school. Their parents felt happier, less stressed, and more able to manage their child’s behavior.
In conclusion, we can say that the practice of Sahaja Yoga can help both coaches and clients in many ways. Through sustained practice, we not only create alignment to our purpose from the place of our higher self but being in touch with our intuition, we become more creative. A quieter mind results in less cognitive load and more focus, allowing us to make better decisions and work more purposely, experiencing less irritability and therefore improving our relationships. We deal better with uncertainty and become more resilient. This change however takes some time and can be accelerated through the creation of more awareness through the coaching process and through the accountability, structures, and aligned plans we work on during the session. As our meditation becomes stronger, the silence in our minds and the increased witnessing quality that this silence develops allows us to become more aware of negative feelings. We are more able to work on them and change them, which coaching accelerates. The inner peace this meditation brings creates the optimal environment for learning and growing. It allows us to change our mindset and be open to the different perspectives that coaching brings forward. As we learn to control our thoughts, we can better manage our emotions, and fears no longer have such a stronghold on us, making the coaching process of moving past those fears that block us a much smoother process.
Should you be interested in discovering Sahaja Yoga, courses are given for free by volunteers all around the world. You can also learn more about it and experience it with the recorded guided meditations at wemeditate.com
Extracts from an interview made on 17 March 2022 to coach Herlinda Maes, Agile and Tribe coach in Belgium
Extracts from an interview made on 17 March 2022 to coach Hyacinth Jones, Holistic Life coach in Belgium
Journal of Neuroscience, Article Gray Matter and Functional Connectivity in Anterior Cingulate Cortex is Associated with the State of Mental Silence During Sahaja Yoga Meditation
Study: “Sahaja Yoga Meditation as a Family Treatment Program for Children with Attention Deficit-Hyperactivity Disorder” by LINDA J. HARRISON from Charles Sturt University, Australia, RAMESH MANOCHA from University of New South Wales, Australia, and KATYA RUBIA fromInstitute of Psychiatry, King’s College, London, UK