Category Archives: Coaching

Zen Coaching for Transformation

Why Zen?

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.

The transformation

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.

Leaders making a transition

transition help

As a corporate professional I have had a unique opportunity to work with many people across many different professions, industries and cultures. I have learned that the pervasiveness of the inner judge and critic, the ‘masks’ we tend to wear, and our ways of blocking ourselves, is remarkably constant.

Through this I have gained a number of fundamental understandings that have proved invaluable because they support individuals to get to the underlying patterns, assumptions and beliefs informing their behaviour. And whilst I am meeting individuals in a professional context, where people want to grow and develop their careers, invariably this touches all areas of their lives.

Continue reading Leaders making a transition

Why we do what we do, helpful or not …

I was prompted to write this after a client I worked with for maternity coaching reflected on our sessions together. She said:

“ For me it’s literally been about learning to be a mother… I’ve found that all the patterns from my own parenting come up and play out at home and at work. Helping me unravel all this material; because it gets thrown into such sharp relief returning to work; and free myself to be the kind of parent and leader I choose to be, has been such a gift…”

Same Old Thinking

My client found that being a parent highlighted her own patterns – the ways she thought and things she did. She knew that she wanted to free herself to act more from choice in-the-moment, rather than be driven by the past.  Over the course of 6 sessions she achieved enough of that freedom to feel she had let go of ways that no longer served her. Within weeks of completing our coaching programme, the shifts she had made were reflected in a significant career development.

Continue reading Why we do what we do, helpful or not …