Mindfulness and Coaching

Mindfulness and Coaching
A fabulous EMCC UK session was spent with Liz Hall on Wednesday at PwC offices at London Bridge. We were given some great insight in to how to use mindfulness as part of our coaching practice. 

We started the session with what Liz calls her 'arriving practice' a 5 minute surreal moment when you can indulge yourself in stillness and practising mindfulness, which for many in the room, was a first attempt, and thankfully guided by Liz's soft and inviting tones, without exception we all felt the benefit. Allowing us to feel more grounded and present for the session. 

We started by understanding what is mindfulness. Quoting some text by Jon Kabat-Zinn it is 'paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally'.

Bringing this text to life Liz talked about it being about 'training the mind', it's a way of being and doing, or non-doing as the case may be. The element which had real resonance with the group was the conversation about compassion and kindness, the fundamental base for all mindfulness. How in today's world we all struggle with allowing ourselves compassion, pushing ourselves to the limit, and then playing back situations, beating ourselves up for how we should have done this or that better, and in our moments of coaching reflective practice, we should all allow ourselves some compassion and kindness.

It's equally important to recognise what mindfulness is not. It's not about emptying the mind and it's not about being passive, says Liz, and those of us who might have an existing meditative practice, mindfulness is not having to set yourself up in silence and sitting comfortably for 10 to 20mins. It can be done in the moment, it's more about checking in with yourself, being present and acceptance in a non-judgemental way. 

Liz then quickly took us through the benefits, from all angles - in the workplace, for our own benefit as a coach, and for our clients; those being around boosting physical and mental health and wellbeing, improving performance and enhancing emotional intelligence. 

Liz went on to suggest that if we are considering becoming a mindful coach then completing a recognised training programme is the way to go, it's such a rich topic and there are so many techniques to consider. And on that thought she then talked us through 10 commitments that we might like to consider on our path to becoming a mindful coach. 

We then spent some time understanding a practical model of application that we could all use with our coaching clients. The model was an acronym called FELT - Focus, Embrace or Explore, Let go, Let in or Let be and then Transform or Transition. 

Liz explained the model and completed a trial run, so to speak, on all attendees, getting us to sit comfortably, close our eyes and she then walked us through how the application works. Without exception, the insight and shift that all participants felt created a great discussion, in just how sitting in guided mindfulness you could achieve such a shift in yourself. 

We were then asked to practice, working in pairs and each having a go. This was a really good session - learning something new and then immediately applying it always helps you to see the benefits and to instantly apply the learning. It's powerful. Those moments spent in silent compassionate reflection, checking in with yourself and enabling a client to do the same can create a real shift both in your mind, helping achieve acceptance or even just an awareness you or your client hadn't felt before and possibly moreover, a connectedness that will help deepen your coaching relationship with your client when you can truly help them create a shift. 

The session concluded by discussing how and when to introduce this approach with your clients, and equally some of the mindful techniques or exercises you could use to work in this way. Finally considering any issues that can arise in the use of mindfulness in coaching. 

A wonderful session that has certainly opened my eyes to techniques that will enable me as a coach to bring my clients in to the here and now, to ground them, to create a rich awareness and moreover to create a shift. 

If you ever get chance to hear Liz talk I can happily recommend you go along. You'll come away with insight in to not only how you can enhance your practice but she may even create a shift in you. 

If you don't get that chance then Liz Hall has two articles and one book to read on the subject:

Mindful Coaching 2015 (Association for Coaching/Kogan Page)
Mindfulness and Coaching 2016 (Cambridge University Press)
Mindful Coaching: Using mindfulness to enhance your coaching practice 2013 (Kogan Page)