Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Copious Curiosity

It was one of those crazy busy days where I had many back to back appointments.  Unlike the way I used to be, I had not thought about who was coming and what they might need to be coached on.  In other words, I knew where I had to be, who I had to see, but I had not processed, or analyzed what it all meant.  I knew client X was coming at 9 AM and one hour and 15 minutes later, I had to coach client Y, but I was not trying to remember or predict what they might want to be coached on.  This was in part due to a conscious effort on my part to be copiously curious as my mentor coach would put it.  And I have learned that if I study or review a client’s past coaching session, then I am expecting it to go a certain way and then I’ve lost my curiosity. 

The day continued on the same way it had started, with lots of curiosity and hustle.  My evening appointment was with my children at the pediatrician’s office for their annual flu shots.  I had not processed that my daughter usually hates getting shots and sometimes even gets a little hysterical.  It was as if I had forgotten how stressful this appointment could be.  Well, to my surprise, she hopped on the examination table and pulled up her sleeve and took the shot without any drama at all!  Right after she hopped back down and put on her sweater, I realized what had happened.

She had changed her story.  Driving back home, I was reminded of my coaching sessions during the day.  In fact, all my clients had managed to surprise me.  None of the sessions had gone on in an orderly fashion, they had been slightly unpredictable and a bit messy.  Yet, I had enjoyed them because they had pushed me into directions I had not gone before.  This is not that uncommon in a coaching session, because no matter how well you think you know your client, you couldn’t possibly know them as well as you think.
At the pediatrician’s office I realized the same thing about my daughter.  What I thought I knew about her was just a prediction based on past behavior.  In a coaching session, the coach allows the client to change their story.  That’s how coaching works, you are in a space where you can change your story.  With practice, I am learning to apply the same principles in my own life and in the more intimate relationships which I think I know so much about! 

Copious curiosity in coaching works by dissolving the bars of the prisons that our clients have created from their stories.  When you are in the presence of someone as if for the first time, listening with your whole being and being present without judgment, expectation, or the need to fit into any theories, past behaviors, or projecting your own story upon them, magic happens!  The client is now free to change their story.

This is one of the reasons why I refer to myself as a spiritual life coach.  What happens in a session when the coach has been copiously curious, is not logical or rational.  It is outside the realms of mental understanding.  It is what I call a spiritual experience!

If you are interested in working with a spiritual life coach, contact me for a complimentary 30 minute spiritual coaching conversation.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Wakeup Call

Talking to my colleagues who are psychologists and counselors, we are of the general understanding that it takes a bus to get most of us to start asking the deeper questions in life.  Unless you’ve been hit by the proverbial bus (you jumped in front of it not knowing what you were doing, by accident, or someone pushed you) most of us do not care about questions that ponder the deeper meaning of life.  

We start our adult lives getting educated, finding a good job, starting a family, and following a predictable trajectory.  Even though, we hear of others whose lives did not follow the predictable path, we hope or pray that we are not one of those people.  What’s happening in the world today is all about a change in that trajectory.  Whether it is the economy, changes on the planet (dramatic weather or natural disasters), or political upheavals, little is predictable these days.  Add to that the normal outliers (being fired, getting a divorce, serious health issues, family troubles, money problems, or a general dissatisfaction with the quality of your life) and what you have, is a bit of lingering chaos.  

As therapists, psychologists, social workers, and spiritual life coaches we spend a lot of time listening to our clients talking about the “bus”.  An entire session could be about how they didn’t see the bus coming, how unfair it was that they got thrown under the bus, how it feels being slowly crushed under the bus, how their bus is bigger than their sister’s bus, or even, how no one told them about the bus, …  In other words, we hear a lot about the bus, point of contact, and the tragedy of it all.

Once we get past the “bus”, then we can start the real work and ask the deeper questions.  What are the deeper questions you may ask.  The deeper questions include: what do I want now?  What are my choices?  What beliefs need to change for me to accomplish what I want?  The answers to these questions take us to the core of our selves, so we can better understand and even redefine who we are, and ultimately let go of the bus incident.  

When clients start their personal development work, slowly they realize that there was no accident, or tragedy and in fact what felt and looked like a bus was just an illusion or maybe an opportunity to start peeling the onion of their lives.  When sleeping in a deep slumber, we need something to wake us up.  The bus in our story was just a wakeup call.  When you look at your job and/or relationship, health, or any other kind of loss as a noisy alarm clock going off, staying mad at what happened is like being mad at the alarm clock throughout the day, so much so that, you can’t engage in what is happening because you are still holding a grudge against the alarm clock!

So, if your alarm clock is going off or you just got hit by the bus, the good news is, it is time to wake up!  If you need help waking up or support in the way you want to be when you do wake up, please contact me for a spiritual life coaching consultation.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011


I just came back home from a lovely trip out to visit a dear friend in Colorado last night.  Walking into the house I could smell the distinct dog odor from our resident pug, Charlie.  That was my first impression of our home and then I was hit by: “Mom, could you clean my running shoes for tomorrow?” and “Mom, I need a check for school”.    I was instantly reminded of how different everything was compared to the last 4 days in Colorado.

I tried to stop myself from the comparisons to what my days were like when I was away, until I realized that it was impossible.  Our brains are designed to compare, contrast, and evaluate.  We do this consciously and unconsciously.  Even our sense of smell involuntarily compares something to another, reminds us of a good or not-so-good memory associated with the smell.  We live in a web of associations and comparisons.  If we have a negative memory, then we judge a certain sound, smell or sight to be bad and have an emotional reaction to something in the present based on something from the past.  We are constantly going in and out of our thoughts and memories.

Sometimes we even get stuck in our thoughts like a mouse in a maze.  Even if our thoughts are not negative or positive, we can get stuck, not knowing how to get out.  I work with people who have thought themselves into corners they can’t get out of.  They often complain about not being joyful or having lost touch with what matters to them.

Joy, I am convinced has nothing to do with thoughts.  Joy is not associated with anything, it just is.  I am writing about the kind of joy you feel when you are out in nature, hanging out by rocks that have been around some 10 million years or so.  Your mind cannot compare and contrast on the mountains.  It just absorbs the beauty and gets really quiet. 

Joy in fact, cannot emerge from the mind and its incessant categorizing.  One of the scenes that I am reminded of is when you are faced with something beautiful or awe inspiring from a distant past that you were not a part of, in the middle of everyday life.  Walking on one of the side streets in Rome and unexpectedly seeing a slice of the Coliseum through the opening ahead as the motorcycles whiz by on the cobblestones for example is one of those moments.  Time stops, because you are not capable of thinking your way back to a time thousands of years ago.  Your mind is not working overtime.  The chatter stops briefly as you gather yourself, until you start again remembering the first time you saw the image, or another time you saw something similar, and off you go back to your evaluating business.   The chatter picks up and joy evaporates.

Living the mundane moments of everyday life are joyless for the most part because of the constant chatter in our heads.  That is why Buddhist thought reminds us to welcome each day and activity as if it is the first time we are doing it.  Staying present helps stop the chatter, slow down the evaluations, and bring back a bit of joy.  This is how meditation works.  It’s all about slowing down our thinking so we can be, just be.

If you find yourself lost in thinking and evaluating and want to be able to plug into joy, you might want to consider working with a spiritual life coach.  Joy comes from spirit, something we lose touch with when we get lost in our thoughts.  If you are interested in pursuing spiritual life coaching, contact me for a complimentary 30 minute coaching conversation.