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I’ve loved hearing so many people’s insights on what they are awakening to during these strange times. It’s also been thought-provoking to hear how people make their own meaning of what’s happening.
A recent conversation with a coach in Mexico City was enlightening. When asked how he was coping with the current situation, he replied that he was still coaching, working from home and doing fine, however, some of his clients were struggling. When I asked him how he was working with his clients’ struggle, he said, “Everyone has to find their own way to peace.”
What a wise and true statement, and one that fits closely with the lessons of mindfulness. And so the question follows, how do we help our clients “find their own way to peace”?
A practice called Vipassana Out Loud (VOL) is an interactive mindfulness meditation that we coaches can use with our clients to help them find their own way to peace. Using this practice, we can support our clients in being with their own challenging experiences. VOL isn’t about changing or shifting anything and it’s not about moving our clients from a current state to a desired state. VOL is about supporting our clients in being with what is. Because only being recognizing, connecting with and allowing what is, can our clients truly process and move through their difficult emotions, thoughts, and sensations.
Here’s how it works…
When your client is stressed, overwhelmed or simply working through something challenging, instead of using a traditional coaching approach that requires your client to come up with answers to all of your probing questions, try VOL. Start by asking them to describe a bit about the context of what’s going on for them. Then, instead of trying to get to underlying beliefs or meaning-making or what needs to change, simply ask two questions:
1) What are you experiencing? Inviting them to tune into their body, connect with where they are experiencing this difficulty and describe their inner sensations.
When the coachee describes their sensations — a tightness in the chest or shoulders or stomach pain — the coach asks,
2) “Can you be with that?” That’s it.
Not “How does it feel?” or “What does it want?” Just simply “Can you be with that?”
What we are doing with this exercise is expanding our clients’ ability to resource themselves (especially when we can’t be with them). We are helping them build some “muscle memory” around regulating themselves when challenged.
This is one of the many ways to integrate mindfulness into coaching and, to help our coachees find their own way to peace, which feels really important right now.
What’s coming up for you? How do you help your clients find their own way to peace? What path to peace have you found or helped others discover? We’d love to hear from you.