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Mindfulness Tools for Change

Posted by Feroshia Knight, MA, MCC | January 12, 2018 | Comments (11)

Have you noticed your coaching clients are increasingly prone to distraction and greater levels of stress and frustration? This is a product of today’s complex and often chaotic world. Clients report feeling overwhelmed, struggling to focus, being caught in patterns of cyclical thinking, or being otherwise distracted, internally and externally.

For many modern coaches, mindfulness tools have become the answer. Through mindfulness, your clients can achieve more positive focus, fresh insight, deeper sense of self, increased confidence, and substantially lower levels of stress.

To improve outcomes in your next session, consider mindfulness techniques as an effective way to inspire your clients toward a deeper understanding of the holistic and interrelated nature of their thoughts, feelings and experiences. Leveraging mindfulness allows you to deepen their awareness of the often unconscious patterns that affect their capacity to be their best, allowing them to be more adaptive and creative.

What is Mindfulness?

Taking its roots from the Buddhist tradition, mindfulness dates back 2,500 years. It was subsequently introduced into Western culture largely through the work of Jon Kabat-Zinn in the late 1970s. Kabat-Zinn defines its practice as an “awareness that arises through paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgmentally.”

Mindfulness is comprised of two central components: awareness and acceptance. Awareness is simply noticing your thoughts, feelings and bodily sensations. Acceptance is where the non-judgmental component of Kabat-Zinn’s definition comes into play. This secondary element encourages us to acknowledge our thoughts and experience without labeling them as positive or negative.

While awareness and acceptance are inextricably linked, I would argue the latter is more important. This is where change happens—or not. By embracing acceptance, your client’s mind expands. Within this state, they become more open, creative and receptive to new perspectives, not to mention those life-enhancing breakthrough moments we all come to know and love as a coach.

Yet for many, this latter step also embodies a considerable struggle. Acceptance is tantamount to resolving inner conflict, a process that often results in deep physical discomfort. In my experience, it is this physical and psychological misery, caused by incessant mental processes, that keeps clients stuck in mental and emotional states. They tend to become rigid or chaotic, locked into outdated versions of themselves and their lives.

Effective Mindfulness Techniques for Coaches

Mindfulness practices vary. Some are guided, others silent. Many incorporate breathing exercises along with somatic scans or other bodily or environmental focal points. Your niche and the individual needs of your clients may offer some guidance as to the most effective techniques to employ.

In general, however, I’ve found clients across the spectrum often benefit from:

  • Meditations: Sitting or walking to bring awareness to the mind-body connection
  • Movement practices: yoga, tai chi and qigong, especially for those who are uncomfortable with the more traditional sitting practices

The how and when is entirely up to you. I frequently use them to initiate a coaching session, as well as a daily practice at the start of my day. It may be just as beneficial for you to hit the pause button midstream during a coaching session should the moment warrant a clearer, calmer or more reflective mindset.

Selecting the best mindfulness practice has a lot to do with what’s going on in the moment. If in doubt, don’t guess. Involve your clients in choosing a tool or practice that best meets their needs and desired outcome. The key to facilitating mindfulness is found within your own state of mind. If you don’t feel calm, present and open, your own energy could affect your delivery.

A couple options to keep in mind:

  • Not everyone feels comfortable sitting with their eyes closed. Some prefer a soft focus, others might prefer a moving practice. Again, questions can help your client choose the mindfulness practice they will get the most out of
  • You can offer to facilitate the mindfulness session in person, use pre-recorded meditations, or even invite your client to try apps such as MindSpace

Incorporating Mindfulness into Your Coaching Practice

Start by viewing your practice with an analytical eye. What kinds of mindfulness tools would best equip you to work with your clients? Do your clients need tools geared toward grounding and centering, or would they benefit from greater self-awareness and self-compassion related to internal experiences and external environments?

Don’t forget: mindfulness isn’t just for clients. You as a coach are most effective when you are present and accepting in a non-judgmental way. Feel free to share holistic meditation with your clients or use it to start your own day.

 

 

 

 

Feroshia Knight

Feroshia Knight, MA, MCC

Feroshia Knight, MA, MCC, is founder and executive director of Coach Training World. She is also the heart-centric creator behind Whole Person Coaching. Her unique, highly customizable coaching methodology works with the whole person by incorporating advancements in mindfulness, somatics, narrative psychology and interpersonal neurobiology. For more than 20 years, she has trained new and seasoned coaches on how to extract the greatest potential from clients and create thriving businesses and careers for a global audience. The first installment in her Successful Coach Guidebook Series, Become the Masterful COACH You Were Meant to Be, will be published in late 2017. Learn more at www.coachtrainingworld.com.

The views and opinions expressed in guest posts featured on this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions and views of the International Coach Federation (ICF). The publication of a guest post on the ICF Blog does not equate to an ICF endorsement or guarantee of the products or services provided by the author.

Comments (11)

  1. Dawn says:

    Great suggestions. Love ideas on how to bring my clients into the present and more intuned with their body.

  2. Great tips and reminders! Simple practices that pack a powerful zen!

  3. Emily says:

    Great article! Also very much love the reminder – “if in doubt, don’t guess” – yes!

  4. Just loved this article…developping my project of coaching services I just want to share with you that soon I will be offering Mindfulness and coaching trough art process.
    We are so often taken by our thoughts and our judgements that we don’t allow our selfs to fill the gap between these thoughts. Trough painting process, trough art, this will be possible. Allow yourself to be creative and enjoy the Present. Not knowing what comes next will release you from pression and open your Mind for new possibilties

    • Thanks Monique for sharing. I absolutely love combining art and mindfulness together. What a rich landscape (inner and outer) you are helping others to explore! Good luck with your future work!

  5. Alan says:

    Great tips and reminders. I loved your article. Thanks for sharing.

  6. Chuck Gohn says:

    A very good article that speaks to the value of meditation not only for our clients but for us. Ten minutes of meditation before meeting with a client will do wonders in settling our minds and keeping us from being distracted by the thousand “thought monkeys” that are jumping around in our head. One of the best books I’ve read on silent meditation (from a Catholic perspective) is “Open Mind, Open Heart, by Father Thomas Keating. Also, if you are looking for a good book on the value of Solitude and Silence I recommend Invitation to Solitude and Silence by Ruth Haley Barton.

  7. Seth Barker says:

    Fantastic article, Feroshia! Thanks for sharing your knowledge!

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