A Case for Mindfulness Based Coaching

A Case For Mindfulness Based Coaching So often as a coach I have observed many 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, computer gaming and not to mention the highly addictive form of digital entertainment, the good old TV set. Similarly when working as a trainee play therapist at the local school, I noted the same emerging pattern amongst child referrals. These children were greatly in need of some quiet time, away from other pupils and teachers, away from 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 use of the earth’s natural play materials such as sand, water, clay, plus a few comfy cushions and bean bags. Every single one of these children were evidently relieved to escape from the overwhelming influences of group and class room based activities, as a result of being stressed and over simulated to the point of not being able to process new information. This is when I first had the idea of integrating mindfulness coaching within my work with adult coaching clients, with particular emphasis on creative, therapeutic and meditative techniques. Let’s face it, adult coaching clients 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 in order to identify important life goals. This is where mindfulness coaching can help in terms of working at a deeper level to connect with the subconscious brain. Essentially, this is the part of the brain that primarily drives our behavior and determines whether we succeed in life. When we experience compassion and positive states of being through mindfulness we are positively rewiring our subconscious mind. Furthermore, it is now widely known through neuro-biology that children and adults who are not relaxed will struggle to learn, communicate and flourish. This is why it is so 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. This is not the only benefit of mindfulness, there are multiple prospects for both coach and client in mindfulness coaching, not to mention the spiritual element of mindfulness, with which so many clients are now resonating with. 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) groundbreaking best seller, Emotional Intelligence, Why It Matters More Than IQ. So 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. It would certainly make sense to introduce mindfulness coaching within the corporate world to increase job satisfaction and well-being across the workforce. Thinking more critically about the need for mindfulness coaching, helps coaches to realise that the clients who may appear to be ‘resistant, stuck or demotivated’ will very 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 thus brings a case for ‘Mindfulness Based Coaching.’