So often as a coach I have observed clients with sensory overload, on the brink of burn out, unable to focus and generally intolerant of noise and human interactions. Modern day living greatly exposes us to the risk of this potential epidemic, through demanding life/work schedules, excessive use of information technology, social media, gaming, not to mention the highly addictive form of digital entertainment – television.
Response by children to mindfulness
Similarly when working as a trainee play therapist at the local school, I noted the same emerging pattern amongst child referrals. Children that greatly needed quiet time, away from peers, teachers, digital devices and away from the continuous pressure of having to listen, pay attention, conform and perform.
After my first year as a therapist trainee I was astounded by how well children responded to play based mindfulness, which included creative visualisations, meditation and the earth’s natural materials such as sand, water, clay, plus a few comfy cushions and bean bags. Without exception, these children were evidently relieved to escape from the overwhelming influences of group activities.
Emphasis on creative, therapeutic and meditative techniques
This is when I first had the idea of integrating mindfulness coaching within my work for the benefit of adults, with particular emphasis on creative, therapeutic and meditative techniques. Let’s face it, adults are no different to children, they need the same level of support and non-judgmental stillness to gather their senses and focus on the here and now. So many clients come to coaching because they cannot achieve work life balance; often multi-tasking and rushed off their feet to the extent of feeling unfulfilled and unable to see a way forward. Many of these clients are unable to put into words what they need. This is where mindfulness coaching can help by working at a deeper level to connect with the subconscious brain. Essentially, this is the part of the brain that primarily drives our behaviour and determines whether we succeed in life.
When we experience compassion, social interaction and positive states of being through mindfulness we are positively rewiring our subconscious mind. Furthermore, it is proven through neuro-biology that children and adults who are not relaxed will struggle to learn, communicate and flourish. This is why it is important that as coaches we assist clients to achieve a state of relaxation to enhance their receptiveness.
Scientific research in mindfulness shows that mindfulness training is effective in treating and preventing stress, depression and chemical imbalances within the brain which can lead to thought disturbances such as negative thinking, over thinking, or catastrophic thinking. There are multiple benefits to practicing mindfulness, not to mention the spiritual element that resonates with many clients.
It is interesting to note that when I started coaching and mentoring 10 years ago, there was no reference to the term mindfulness, certainly not in the public sector. The main trend back then was emotional intelligence, following Daniel Goleman’s (1996) bestseller book, Emotional Intelligence, Why It Matters More Than IQ. The fast growing interest in mindfulness marks a real paradigm shift within western society and paves the way for new innovative coaching practices, which can benefit both individuals and businesses. Consequently, it makes sense to introduce mindfulness coaching to the corporate world to increase job satisfaction, thus productivity through greater well-being across the workforce.
Thinking more critically about the need for mindfulness coaching helps coaches to realise that clients who appear to be ‘resistant, stuck or demotivated’ will likely fall into the category of those who are suffering with sensory overload. Most certainly a good number of these people will be yearning to connect with their spiritual sense of being, to awaken their senses and is a case for Mindfulness Based Coaching.