Research Paper By Yuliya Goloskokova
(Transformational Coach, KAZAKHSTAN)
Relevance in a culturally non-spirituality-oriented society
Choosing Spiritual Coaching as one of the niches and it being a subject I am deeply interested in studying, I have been faced with a question of relevance of this type of coaching in my country (CIS region). For a larger part of the society the topic of spiritual growth and development has not been important. One of the reasons for this is the prevailing mindset of non-spiritual outlook on life due to the policies upheld by the previous political system for many decades.
Society at large has changed the outlook on spiritual component of life in recent years, yet it remains a rather not very defined concept and is mostly referred to as one of the elements of cultural makeup of an ethnic group. Spirituality here is akin to commonly upheld traditional rituals.
Having spent a significant part of my life in a different culture with different perception on spirituality and its role in our life I got interested in the topic of relevance of spiritual coaching in a society that is not used to considering spirituality as an integral part of its daily life.
Coaching is a very new profession in the region and there is very little published about it at all – specifically in the language of the land. Thus a lot of my findings for this research are based on actual interactions with a wide selection of people from many different walks of life and of varied backgrounds and belonging to different ethnic groups and faiths.
What is Spiritual Coaching
Spiritual coaching in essence follows the same Life Coaching techniques, with certain added elements that distinguishes it. Spiritual Coaching follows the idea of an external consciousness, and that we as humans are able to tap into that consciousness and achieve a greater expansion of our own consciousness for a better life. One of the ideas is that it is very beneficial to implement the spiritual values and ideals in real world and apply them practically to other aspects of our life.
Additionally, Spiritual Coaching supports us to achieve “wholeness”, which IASC (International Association for Spiritual Coaching) describes as the integration of all parts of our being – body, mind, heart, spirit and soul – into a highly functioning Self.
Achieving that will help us to discover the deeper meaning of life and with that to enable us to better follow our life’s purpose.
Life and Spiritual coaching can be seen to be familiar in a number of ways. Downey, writes
the core skills involved in counseling and coaching and even mentoring are very similar, if not actually the same; … listening… asking questions.
and this would apply also to Spiritual Coaching. Its purpose can be described as to
serve not in the capacity of judge, but simply as reflector, not giving advice, but merely attending, summarizing, clarifying. The helper might also feed back the feelings he or she hears behind the words. ….an active listener and companion in the search … not the final decider, the advice-giver, or the subtle persuader
(Hart 1980:80). (Journal of Alternative Spiritualities and New Age Studies. Vol 3.)
Stumbling upon the definition of Spiritual Direction I have found some similarities in descriptions. Jeff says that a spiritual director (or coach) is one
who asks important questions which may or may not have been considered, and leaves the directee (or client) to find out his or her own answers
(Jeff 1987:10). (Journal of Alternative Spiritualities and New Age Studies. Vol 3.)
Access to intuition in Spiritual Coaching is another powerful tool that has been inherited from Spiritual Direction that many of the above mentioned authors described.
Spiritual direction (coaching) is concerned with the creative use of the imagination to enable us to see what is really there
(Jones 1999/1982:102; Leech 1994/1977:130). (Journal of Alternative Spiritualities and New Age Studies. Vol 3.)
Dr. Anthony Grant (MacQuarrie University, Australia) defines Life Coaching in a way that brings out its claims to develop potential:
… a systematic process in which a coach facilitates self-directed learning, personal growth and enhancement of the coachee’s life experience and performance. It aims to bring about sustained cognitive, emotional and behavioral change which facilitates goal attainment and performance enhancement either in a person’s work or personal life.
The purpose of Spiritual Coaching is to create a process in which the potential of the person coached is being helped to emerge. It is done with a mindset that God’s purpose for each of us is that we reach the fullness of our personal potential (Hart 1980:71).
Spiritual Coaching endeavors to facilitate the process of spiritual maturing of the person coached.
As one of the purposes Spiritual Coaching pursues the development of self-awareness and understanding of the deeper nature of our souls, thus enabling us to tune in to the nudges from the higher power which is believed to guide us on our journey of life.
Kazakhstan’s society in Spiritual Coaching perspective
Kazakhstan has been a part of USSR since the beginning of 20th century. The socialist approach to structuring of the society was prevalent on the entire territory of the former USSR and the mindsets developed during the 70-plus year history though slowly giving place to new ones, still largely remain. One of the stronger ‘beliefs’ of the era was that Higher Power is the human him/herself. Thus the spiritual side of a human being was not tended to. In the last two decades the society made a move to come back to the historical traditions related to faith and spirituality. Though these inclinations are yet perceived as cultural identity notions and not at large as a desire to develop one of the integral parts of a human being – spiritual.
Yet the desire to discover the answers to age old questions of purpose and meaning of life do compel people to pay more attention to their inner selves.
Coaching being a relatively new in our society (CIS) is being slowly integrated into various segments of society. The overall culture has been affected by various influencing factors that are characterized by the following Hofstede’s cultural dimensions (Lewis, 2006:381):
- This dimension can be seen in the way power is distributed in the society. High PD – vast gap between those with power and those without. Thus the society is affected by the “I have no say so in the matter, so just tell me what to do” mindset. For many years majority of people were just used to following orders and being told what they should do. As a result the expectation of receiving the solution to a personal problem from elsewhere is high. Oftentimes a coach may hear – tell me what to do.
- In terms of growing trend of paying attention to development of the inner balance, in light of high dependency on outside advice and direction, Spiritual Coaching was described as beneficial by 41 out of 50 interviewed from various walks of life. Their common answer to the question “how relevant do you consider Spiritual Coaching in your life?” was – ‘I would like to discover the real purpose of my life and meaning of my existence and understand my own spiritual self, my needs, my assumptions of the Beyond; to understand how much need I do have in the Spiritual element in my life; to understand how I can use the knowledge of spiritual principals in solving my daily problems. People generally felt interested in learning how to tap into the vast resource of the knowledge and understanding of The Spiritual in order to have some help in dealing with the issues of life.
- Those that followed a different thought on the need of Spiritual Coaching in their life replied that they did not want to have someone out there tell them what to do and preferred to make their own choices and mistakes, rather than avoid them.