Clients can often be in a hurry to get their situation fixed. However, in the Zen approach change happens more as a by-product of greater self-understanding than as a result of deliberate effort. Ultimately the approach leads to a state where insights and understandings are integrated into an individual’s body and mind through their own self-regulation, without the need for active help from a coach.
The original purpose of Zen in my interpretation here is to help an individual make a direct experience of their true nature. I use the term Zen Coaching to emphasise the connection for clients between gaining more self-understanding and finding more clarity in their life and work.
Zen Coaching uses the best of Eastern tradition and Western psychology
A typical approach in Western coaching models is to ‘fix’ an individual. The goal is to create our secure sense of self, our ego. We seek an ego that projects its strength out into creative action in the world. This sense of self protects against outside threats, so the stronger it is the better.
In Eastern traditions the confused mind of the ego is seen as something of a ‘garbage collector’. A conscious that is so full of accumulated materials it doesn’t know its own reality. The self holds heaps of undigested, unassimilated psychological material. It is our preoccupation with this ‘internal landfill’ keeps us from realising our true, clear nature. From this perspective the solution is to dissociate from the personal self, to recover awareness that is separate from the personal self.
Zen coaching goes beyond the limitations of both the Eastern and Western approaches, and utilises the beauty of each. In this work clients release into the feeling states that operate behind our ego positions. When this happens clients realise the ego is their defence system. A defence system that fights tooth and claw to protect us, even from our own intrusions. This fight is where people easily get stuck in a fruitless struggle against themselves, making their own ego into the enemy to somehow be defeated.
From the Eastern traditions we understand that the ego is not a fixed, hard thing. It is not a solid entity, rather it is activity. It is the motion of our mind working on itself. This relentless high speed activity gives the ego the appeareance of a substantial object, but it’s actually an illusion. As we come to see we are not the identity created by our ego, we can learn to let go of the effort to be ‘better’. We can stop the ongoing struggle of trying to improve ourselves. And when we do this we open the door to discover the beauty and precision of what we already are, our inner nature.
Then the shift happens, being authentic and real becomes more important than being perfect, or feeling the need to perform. In living this reality we find a deep satisfaction in daily life and a previously untapped depth of resource to address the opportunities and challenges that face us.