Exercises Archives

crane_exercise

Photo courtesy Tony Hisgett available from Flickr under Creative Commons.

Concentration and self-mastery

Have you ever watched a person of a strong reputation or character?

If you have a chance, observe them closely. Look how they sit, walk and talk.

You will notice that men of force and women of wisdom exert a great control over their bodies. The posture is strong, the body is well grounded, the eyes are focused yet radiant and their movements are optimized. All parts of the body are in a total harmony. They align to a purpose.

Their speech is well rounded, thoughtful and inspirational. There are  hardly any stop words, such as ‘yeah’ ,’uhm’ and so on. Their speech and their body are in resonance,  They are slow to preach but fast to listen.

They are calm and well poised, in control of their bodies. They radiate assurance, wisdom and respect.

Now, watch an ordinary person on a street or on TV. You will see how seemingly different parts of the body have their own lives. Wiggly gestures, scratching head, pulling hair, biting lips, looking down or off, tapping fingers, moving constantly on a chair or while standing.

Their speech is erratic, repeatable and lacks focus. They allow emotions to take over. They are fast to talk but slow to listen.

***

Mind is associated with muscles and nerves. Once the muscles and nerves are moving without control, your mind becomes scattered. The energy needed to support these movements diminishes your power of concentration. In addition, when the heart beats irregularly, the circulation is uneven. Consequently, the mind goes over all places and lacks the power of focus. As simple as that.

Controlling your mind and your body goes hand in hand. Any practice that teaches you to strengthen and control your muscles and nerves will steady your mind, as a result. You will become more focused. And the power of focus is the foundation of self-mastery.

There are, of course, many practices you can choose. The basic one, however, starts with breathing.

So….controlling your breath is a way to maintain your health. The slower breath, the better. Ideally, you breath in the same pattern as your heart beats. Out-breath, pause and an  in-breath.

Breathing and the crane

Many diseases, including acute and chronic problems, are related to the weakness in one or more parts of the digestive tract. Digestion is controlled by the autonomic muscles and the regular exercise will not reach them. Many suggest that poor breathing habits are a major cause of weakness in the body by not using diaphragm to massage the internal organs.

Oftentimes, when we breathe, the lungs tend to expand outward toward the chest as we use the upper part half of the lungs only. The stale air that remains in the lower part and the moisture which accompanies the stale air provides the conditions necessary for germs to have a party 😉 Therefore, we need to find a way to breathe the lower part of the lungs as well and force the stomach, intestines and colon to move, to work so they may be strengthened.

The Crane Exercise comes as a solution.

Crane is a Chinese and Japanese symbol of longevity, wisdom and nobility. Not surprisingly, as they live long, pair for life, look elegant and perhaps make smart choices 😉

When it stands, the crane folds one leg into its belly and exerts pressure on its abdominal muscles. This is done to strengthen its digestive, respiratory and circulatory systems. A similar thing happens when we adapt this position for humans. Since intestines are not easily reachable by external exercise, emulating the crane will benefit the digestive system greatly. Humans emulate the crane by practicing standing on one leg and then by learning to use the diaphragm to  massage the digestive organs.

The Crane Exercise forces the lungs downward. This is beneficial because the intestines have no place to go, they are pressed out against the abdominal muscles. Such a motion breaks up constipation, encourages absorp­tion of nutrients. and strengthens the entire digestive tract while stimulating the lungs. The Crane posture also increases the circulation to the abdominal organs and muscles. Hence, it can reduce fat accumulation (great news, isn’t it? ;)). The pose also helps asthma through its effects on the lungs.

Slow diaphrag­matic breathing, as taught in the Crane, allows for full expansion of the lungs and full absorption of energy from the air, while exercising the lungs and gently massaging the internal organs. The Crane posture also encourages us to improve our circulation. Even though these organs are controlled by the autonomic nervous system, the Crane Exercise enables us to bal­ance the energy between top and down of the body.

Crane Exercise

This  may be practiced while standing, sitting, or while lying down.

Caution: Avoid in pregnancy or when there is an abdominal pain.

  1. Start by rubbing the palms of your hands together to generate some heat in your hands.
  2. Place your hands, palms down, on your lower abdomen on the sides of your navel.
  3. Inhale through nose, while keeping your mouth close.
  4. Begin to exhale slowly, while pressing your hands down lightly so that the abdomen forms a hollow cavity . Since the hands act as the leg of the crane, this gently forces the air out of the lower lungs. If you like, keep imagining unwanted microorganisms to leave your body as well.
  5.  After you have exhaled completely, pause briefly and slowly inhale again. Extend your abdomen outward so that it becomes like a balloon. Do your best to use your muscles in the lower abdomen – let the chest stay flat.

Begin with 2-3 rounds (exhalation followed by inhalation is one round) and slowly increase to 12. Please practiced daily, ideally in the morning or evening. Your goal is to do it as slowly as possible, say one round for about 30-50s.

***

Eric Cobb from Z-Health shows a breathing exercise which is in fact the laying down Crane Exercise.

 

Standing Crane Exercise

This is more advanced than the sitting/lying down exercise but worth learning. In addition, it helps to develop balance and increases the flexibility of the knees, ankles and hip joints. It also increases the circulation in the legs and feet.

  1. Stand with your feet touching.
  2. Take one foot and rub the sole of that foot on the opposite calf. Slowly work your foot up the leg, stopping to rub it until your foot rests on the outside thigh of your opposite leg. The heel should lie toward the pelvis, and the toes should be past the thigh near the hip joint.
  3. Use your hands to massage the sole of your foot, including toes.
  4. Raise your arms over your head sideways as you inhale, and bring your palms as close together as possible.
  5. Breathing as usual, balance in this position for as long as you can.
  6. While exhaling, lower your arms and foot and repeat the exercise with your other foot.

And here is a demonstration of the standing crane:

Concentration and breathing

When your breath becomes regular, your circulation follows. A steady mind begins with an even breath. A healthy body begins with diaphragmatic breath. Enjoy it!

***

 

problem solving

Photo courtesy Fe Langdon, available under Creative Commons on Flickr.

 

You love your problems, don’t you? They are your little friends that push you towards growth.

Problem solving vs thinking

Before I’ll talk about great approaches to problem solving, first I want to explain how not to solve your problems.

Do you know how?

By thinking alone.

“What?”, you may say, “You must be crazy. I need to think about my problems!”.
For sure, you do. No doubt about it. However, in order to tackle your problems you need other modalities alongside your thinking.

Thinking through your problems is a necessary ingredient for a successful solution, but it is usually insufficient. Thinking may work for simple problems, but it fails to buckle down complex ones. I don’t need to tell you this because, I bet, you know it from experience.

How many months (or years) have you thought about being in a job, relation or a situation you are unhappy with and yet little has improved?

How many months (or years) have you thought about being fit, becoming an entrepreneur, or traveling the world, yet little has changed?

How many months (or years) have you thought about improving your social skills or learning a new one, yet with no progress?

Perhaps you have analyzed some or all the aspects of your problem and decided that the “I don’t care” state is your safe haven. The comfort zone of inaction is, for sure, attractive. If this is your solution, you have convinced yourself to ignore the problem. If not, …

… thinking is not the way out

Why?

Because thinking may continue for a very long time without any dedicated action. Some perfectionists want to see the problem from all possible angles in order to find the best solution. The best solution, similarly as the best decision, can only be judged if there is a simple criterion or rationale, which is often not the case. Others want to understand the problem as much as possible. However, you don’t need a full understanding of your problem to actually solve it (ok, unless you tackle a complex math or physics challenge).

For instance, you don’t really need to fully know how an engine works, all the construction details and how to repair a car in order to drive it. You need to understand some pieces about the context, though. Similarly, you don’t need to know all the details of running a business or a project as you will learn while doing it.

There are two aspects of thinking that will keep you stuck in your problems.

1) Long-term thinking about your problem keeps you exactly in the reality of your problem.

What you think about, expands. In other words, whenever you think of what you lack, you are perpetuating the very state of experiencing lack. You may even deepen the experience.

Thinking about the job you hate will help powerlessness to root stronger. As a result, it will become increasingly more difficult to find another job.

Thinking about your stagnant relation will strengthen your feelings of self-pity and influence your overall well-being. As a result, you will have less attention, focus and love for your kids, friends and work.

Thinking about the lack of money will prove to be true. As a result, you will have less ambition and less courage to create new streams of income.

Long-term thinking with the premise for gaining understanding is only an escape from taking action.

2. Thinking alone may prevent you from finding intelligent solutions.

The first limitation is that your conscious span can only handle a limited amount of information. Therefore, it is difficult to hold different perceptions or views at the same time. (To realize that just think whether you can hold in your mind just four different views of a given object: front, back and two side ones). The second limitation is that you will look for patterns and ways to simplify things. As a result will tend to overgeneralize or make a hasty generalization. Finally, thinking often moves around a vicious circle circular by following the same types of thoughts.

In brief, thinking gets into a self-perpetuating mode, where with time, little novelty is allowed.

To have a fresh perspective, even if you need to tackle a problem that is similar to the ones you encountered before, it is still important to consider the whole context: raw facts, emotions, circumstances and obstacles. This means that any time you want to apply your problem solving skills to a problem that is similar to the ones you tackled before.

How to be successful at problem solving?

The simplest strategy is to get your thoughts out of your head into the world. Then, you use dedicated tools to release emotions and organize thoughts.

There are two good approaches to problem solving and both of them focus on moving from the non-physical world (thoughts) into the physical one. Thoughts and emotions are attracted to physical anchors, which are basically forms of expressive outlets. In general, your body acts as such an anchor but it holds all the thoughts inside. Once you want to move the thoughts and emotions into the world, you need to attach them to another anchor. It has to be a tangible one.

The spoken word is a step in the right direction, though not long lasting. A better anchor is created by the written word, or even an artistic expression (drawing, painting, collage, etc). Both the written word and the art expression can last for a long time, hence they are purposeful modalities. They can direct both emotions and thoughts from chaos to order.

These two approaches are:

  1. Talking-modality: coaching or talking through
  2. Writing-modality: self-coaching, journaling or automatic writing

Talking modality: coaching, talking through or a role play

In this modality, the role of the anchor is played either by a human or an object.

Women often talk about their problems, or rather they talk about their emotions (of course, I realize this statement is a generalization ;)). They hardly ever want an advice, but instead, they want to be heard and appreciated.

Women can perfectly describe the tiniest details and feelings. First, it helps them to relieve the tension. Secondly, it helps them to organize the thoughts. In fact, hearing yourself explaining the issues to another person is of a great value. And … If there is great active listener, he/she may direct them towards a solution.

The task of the active listener is to ask open questions that help the person to clarify the problem. In addition, the listener helps to challenge some fixed points of view, shift perspectives and reframe. An active listener is a blessing.

If you want to solve your problems effectively, one way is to talk through them with a willing and gentle soul. This person, however, should refrain from giving advice unless you explicitly ask for. He/she is there to be a genuine listener, caring for you and offering you full attention. Your goal is to be heard and understood. If you miss such a partner, you can still become successful at problem solving by creating an imagined anchor-partner.

The pillow exercise

For myself, I choose a pillow as a prototype, but you may choose any other still object/plant you like. The choice of a pillow is of course intentional. A pillow can offer a great service as an object to cuddle as well as to hit or cry to. It’s good for reconciliation too 😉

The best is to imagine that the pillow is a specific person, alive or not. It should be a person whom you admire and/or respect and whose traits you know. It can be somebody such as your beloved grandma or a friend. Alternatively, you can just imagine a certain kind of a person with a few specific traits or values such as honesty, kindness, courage, independence, etc.

Then you simply imagine a role play between yourself and the pillow character. You begin by explaining the problem, and then you project yourself into the mind of the anchor person, who is going to react to what you are saying by asking open questions. In doing so, you pretend to be the pillow character listening to you with empathy and total interest. You keep taking roles (while you remember your pillow is a gentle soul indeed) until you have said everything it was to say and your mind has become empty.

Of course, you may imagine such a role play directly in your head but it will stay in the realm of thoughts. It makes a tremendous difference whether you have a physical object that you can touch or cuddle and when you use a spoken word (in your normal voice). You will arrive at calmed emotions, clarity and the feeling of power.

However silly it may sound, I’ve found this exercise to work extremely well for a few complex problems involving lots of emotional baggage. As I my preferred learning style is a mix between visual and touch-and-feel approaches, I personally prefer the written word or an artistic expression. Nevertheless, it was my pillow exercise that helped me through when other modalities couldn’t. As such the talking modality is especially beneficial for people whose main learning style is auditory (i.e. they organize knowledge and learn mainly by listening).

 Automatic writing, journaling or self-coaching

In this modality, paper (or computer screen) plays the role of the physical anchor for thoughts. It works especially well for people whose dominant learning style is visual. However, when paper is used and doodling encouraged, the power of paper proves its worth for those with the touch-and-feel learning style.

Writing down thoughts as they come, especially in an uncensored way, is a great tool, often overlooked for problem solving. Writing helps for gaining understanding, releasing negative emotions and achieving goals. The majority of us hardly writes down about own problems, yet it is such an easy way to move forward.

Automatic writing exercise

In an automatic writing, called also freewriting, the idea is to open an editor or take a piece of paper (paper works usually better) and write about your problem. You need to have one or two good questions about it, such as “What is really my problem about?” and “How can I solve my problem in/while X?” (where X is used to specify your other constrains, e.g. “in the next three months”, “in the most effortless way”, “for the highest good of all involved” etc).

Write the first question down and set your timer for 10-15min (the old-fashioned egg timer is perfect for this, but you can also use this one). Begin to write your thoughts down as fast as possible. Even if you don’t know what to write, just write “don’t know what to write” or “this problem bothers me” or whatever else is in your head. The idea is to get all these annoying thoughts out. You may use single words or half-baked sentences.  Keep writing continuously in an uncensored way, i.e. without taking any care of spelling, punctuation, and a neat look. Write big or small, whatever suits you at the moment. Don’t pause to read what you have written or stare before you. “Keep writing” is the idea!

The idea behind writing fast and careless is to release the junk thoughts (“i can’t”) and pass your inner critic until you relax. Once the waste of your thoughts is out of the way, you will relax and open up to the stream of quality thoughts. You will notice that different words become to flow. Just keep writing until you hear the timer beep.

Then you work on the second question (concerning your solutions). Set the timer for another 10-15min and start to write again.

Of course you can ask any other relevant question, such as “What stops me from working out the solution?” or “Which resources do I need to solve this problem?”. Similarly as in the pillow exercise, you can also hold a conversation on a paper about your issue with a real or imagined friend.

Please know that this approach may not work well for the first time, as your inner critic may act too strongly. If you are persistent, however, with little practice you can be surprised by the quality of answers from your inner wisdom.

Why do you need a timer?

Without the time constraint there is no external push or force to make you work to find the answers. The limitations, when set, inspire your brain for activity and creative thinking.

Journaling

Journaling usually involves a longer time of writing and inspecting a few well-structured questions. It can be a method to use daily before or after the day to write about your goals for the day, the expected or experienced progress, disappointments etc. It is a way to get the perplexing thoughts out of your head and leave your mind empty for a creative work.

Self-coaching

Self coaching is a powerful modality that helps you to work towards improvement through a series of well-structured questions. Although it is imperfect substitute for a 1-to-1 coaching, it can nevertheless deliver great results with a small price. What you need is a way to phrase your problem as a goal or target and then explore the context, identify possible solutions and the obstacles and decide for the way forward.

This again works best when explored in a limited time frame (say 40-60min) and involves the written word, in answer to the questions.

Example questions include:

  • What is exactly your problem?
  • What tells you that there is a problem?
  • What is your key challenge that you need to overcome?
  • What are you afraid of when the problem remains unsolved?
  • What would you do if you had no fear and no limitations?
  • What is the first simplest step forward?
  • What is the most effective way forward?
  • How can you create, borrow, learn what you need?
  • What are your obstacles that you need to address?
  • How can you motivate yourself to work towards a solution?

If you coach yourself regularly, alongside the automatic writing, you will gain clarity and liberate yourself to taking action.

In summary

In order to move both the emotions and thoughts towards manifestation in the world, you need to find a physical anchor for them. All approaches to effective problem solving rely on getting the thoughts out of the head and make them explicit.

When thoughts are talked through or written down, the release of emotions leaves the mind with the partially organized thoughts. They are labeled, hence born to existence into the physical world. In fact, the thoughts are not ephemeral any longer; they become things, as they are anchored to reality. Inspecting the maze of the shaped thoughts, your solution to a problem boils then down to an intuitive insight or a recognition of what a good idea is.

To employ both modalities, write and repeat your solution loudly every day.
Keep taking the necessary action.

The power of the spoken and written word will surprise you.

***

 

wu_wei

Remember your golden times of trust

When I was a child I used to spend summer holidays at my aunts, in villages they lived in. I was playing in the meadows, cycling along small paths, walking in forests and picking up berries and mushrooms, helping in the garden or around the animals. Life was simple, yet rich in sensations and experiences. These were the golden times of an enormous growth yet peace. There was trust.

I loved to be an explorer. I used to jump on a bike and cycle as fast as I could over off-beaten tracks until I arrived at a new place: a hidden meadow, a tiny hill, an old tree, or far-away field. I loved to lie on the meadow grass or warm sandy ground in the forest and look at the high grass, trees and clouds. I felt fully alive, in resonance with the vibrating earth.

I was there, present in the moment, feeling the pulse of Life in me and around me. It was magical.

I was observing the gracious movements of flowers or weeds, dance of tree tops, walks of ants or the hard work of bees, or bugs carrying their food. I was listening to the tuk-tuk and cuckoo sounds, grass-hooper’s music, wasps’ melodies and all type of noises and sounds of living nature. I was connected to the plants and creatures. Inseparable, it seemed.

With only little time, my senses used to become sharp. Extra-sensitive, I would say now. I was seeing colorful light bubbles and sun-rays dancing playfully around. I was sensing the heavyneass and tingling of the air. I felt the vibrations of the leaves. I was hearing the sounds of flying butterflies, songs of light zephyrs or heated discussions between insects.  I was both an observer and a participant of the vibrant reality.

I felt an enormous respect for the Order and Structure behind the things and their place. I was blended in to Life around me.

These were perfect times for a busy child, teaching her to be. No problems. No worries. No obligations. Just a healing presence in the magically orchestrated Whole.

I used to spend hours by being a part of these Experiences. I have always had a highed sense of calm and poise when I was returning from my exploration to my daily tasks. I felt strong yet flexible at the same time.

Wu wei

Wu wei is an interesting principle that basically teaches us about active non-doing. When you face a difficult challenge or a problem, your natural inclination is to do something about it. Be it a judgment, a talk, a call, a plan of action or a piece of advice. You want to solve it in one way or the other in order to move forward. 

This comes from the belief that problems are being solved by taking action as if the energy required for the doing can be translated into the final result. While it is necessary at right times, in other times – it is simply not so. Action may become counterproductive.

There are times when doing will not bring the solution you hope for. This is especially true when there is a shock or a big challenge outside your comfort zone. You may educate yourself, read books, take courses, collect advice and imitate successful people to learn which actions to take. And you may take the effort to optimize your actions. Yet, the results are none, poor or mediocre at best. Your frustration is high, hope is gone and there is no solution at a horizon.

Patience, my Dear!

We often believe we need to plan and organize things all the time. Yet, the nature operates in perfect ways without our organization. Perhaps, things do not need to be organized as much as we think, but simply appreciated, given attention to and understood. If you understand them, either you or they will change.

Active non-doing teaches us that Doing originates from Being. Doing for the sake of doing only creates the illusion of progress. You need to be first before you can do. It may sound trivial but … do you practise it?

  • How many times did you jump to conclusions or take action before even understanding what the issue was about?
  • How many times did you give your advice to your kids, spouse, friends, colleagues or neighbors without listening to them with full attention first?
  • How many times were you frustrated because the pattern repeated itself for the Xth time? Say, your kids got strep throat again, you put on weight, you got reprimanded by your boss, your report or article was either neglected or rejected,  you again scored poorly on job interview, and so on.

Perhaps your active doing to improve the situation is totally in vain, even if you educate yourself to the highest level. Perhaps there is the time for wu wei.

Wu wei or active non-doing simply means to stop and pay attention.

Pause.
Look around.
Observe patterns. 
Feel the presence of weeds, shoes, hands, clothes, cars, faces or own thoughts.

When you perceive a problem, blend in to the circumstances surrounding it. Observe the problem. Let it be. Don’t give it names, adjectives or descriptions. Don’t analyze it. Sense it instead.  And in meantime, nourish yourself. There is no need for an immediate solution. Wait!

Stop preaching to and reprimanding your child. Feel as he may be feeling first to understand his issues with the pears.

Stop thinking of strategies to make your boss like you in order to get the rise. Pay attention to his presence: his intonation, voice or face expressions. Be there and observe. Understand his frustrations. Become like him to sense what the issue he has with you.

Feel the frustration of your spouse or friend. Let him/her be loved and understood. They don’t need your advice (unless they deliberately ask for it), but they need your acceptance and love. 

You can think rationally, plan new approaches, discuss strategies of action with experts, follow the best advice, yet everything may just brings confusion. In order to be effective with your doing you have to be present in the moment first.

So…

Be present. In this very moment. Blend in. Pay attention to the details. Participate. Listen.

When you are present, you will be blessed with answers. The answer is already there, in the silence. You only need to wait, notice it and understand.

*** 

Exercises:

1. Presence.

Stop what you are doing. Look around. Notice the details. Even if there is seemingly nothing happening, pay attention. 
What do you hear? What do you notice now that you haven’t had just before a while?
What is the atmosphere around?
How are your hands and feet? Are they fresh or tired? What do they sense?
Look around closely. Notice five elements that you have not noticed before.
Close your eyes. Find another five.

Train your attention and perception. Sense. There are the colors, the temperature, the sounds, the vibrations, the smells ….

2. Active non-doing.

Think of three challenges that solved themselves without your doing and participation. Recall them. Pay attention.

What were the essential ingredients that led to the solution?
How did they contribute to a sequence of events that brought you to the final solution?

What was your active non-doing contribution? 
What did you have to notice, observe and feel to restrain from taking action? 
What was it to have  helped in creating this spontaneous effect (i.e. the problem has solved itself)?

Do you see any patterns, or a trend perhaps?

***

Photo copyright by Moyan Brenn. Photo available under the Creative Commons license on Flickr.

***

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Recently I’ve found my Request Box I’ve long forgotten about. It is a small cartoon box I created seven years ago. It holds my dear wishes.

Inside the box you will find a few pieces of paper, each dedicated to a single request. Different colors are meant for different types of wishes.

Each request is described only briefly, but it contains the necessary details. I explain why I want this particular event happen in my life and how I want it to happen. 

What is more important, however, is the ritual of writing. At that moment I was seeing, hearing and feeling the circumstances around the request. On the canvas of my imagination I created a short movie of how it would have been to participate in the events if the request was a reality.

How would I feel? I felt the feelings.
How would I think? I thought the thoughts.
What would I say? I said the words in my mind.
What would I be hearing around me? I heard the sounds and the silence.
I spent a day per request to remember the feelings well.

The requests are written in a form of a prayer to Holy Spirit, who is the Doer and the Performer on the Earth. The prayer is structured in a simple way but it is a free-flow within it. In fact, it is more a demand than a request. I don’t beg, but explain, ask and command.

I open and close each request in the same way. In the beginning I say “Dear Holy Spirit and my High Conscious Self“. Why do I address the request to myself as well? Because I deliberately ask my Super-conscious Self to become aware of the longings of the present down-to-earth Ela and make her prepare well for the things to come. In the end, communication is the key, even within yourself, isn’t it?

I end my prayer by saying “Holy Spirit make it so to the highest good of all involved“. My ending is meant to be open so that the request comes to life in a way which is beneficial and rewarding and perhaps still beyond my imagination.

At that time all these wishes were far beyond my reach. There were perfectly legitimate wishes, in general, but seemed impossible for me because of the real or imagined limitations and obstacles. At that time I did not believe they would come true.

Now, seven years forward and all the requests have become reality. They are fulfilled in abundance and in ways that surpass my imagination. They have not come to life neither at the time I wanted nor exactly the way I imagined. They however closely matched the feelings I created.  In fact the feelings were my guide because at some point I had to discriminate between a number of responses that seemed to fulfill my wishes, yet weren’t. I knew I had to yet wait for something different, because the feelings didn’t match. It was worth it.

Prepare and let it go

Why to wait seven years, you may ask? Well…. what else is there to do except conscious action and trust?  It has taken me less than seven years, but still a few long years. Why? Looking back I was certainly not ready at the time I wanted the requests to be fulfilled, even though I was convinced otherwise.

I was certainly motivated and excited to have the wishes granted, wanting them from all my heart, demanding them and pushing towards them as goals. Over the first two years I had made little progress by my conscious efforts. Whatever I did to move towards my goals, I was pushed away. There were always new obstacles and challenges, simply growing out of nowhere. I couldn’t grasp it. In all my self-coaching efforts, I was pushing myself forward, yet it didn’t work.

Until I have finally understood it. My over-motivation, over-determination and over-excitement were counterproductive. It was the best learning I got on goals and what is beyond them. Two years after the creation of the Request Box, I finally relaxed and let it go. And then things slowly started to happen. Not that I realized that at that time – I can only see it now.

Readiness is an intention or a state of sharp alertness, when you are prepared to do / welcome something in your life and gracefully handle the consequences that follow. Oftentimes you believe you are prepared simply because you want something deeply and desperately. Oftentimes, you are not. (For instance you may easily get kids to later find out that you were not yet prepared for compromises, sleepless nights, cuts in spending and new responsibilities.)

If there is desperation to your wish, you are not ready yet for it to come. You need to let it go and free yourself from the outcome.

What is the purpose of the Request Box?

Writing is tangible. It is a physical act that creates an anchor for our abstract thoughts. Without an anchor, our thoughts are like clouds that sometimes are there and sometimes fly away. Writing is like planting a seed.

The structure of the request and the box are there to create a ritual, a distinct form. This is to make the requests important, to mark particular thoughts and feelings as special. The box is to create the imaginary space for germination without your influence.

The feeling and imagination are the principles for characterization of what we want and the recognition when it arrives. The key is to ask yourself the question “How would I know / see / feel / hear what others are saying when my request is fulfilled?” Simple yet powerful.

The requests are closed in a box and left for germination. No, please don’t open the box every hour or every day to remember what is there. You will remember it anyway. Your seed will be disturbed or perhaps even die if you are going to constantly dig in the soil. Open your box, say, once or twice a year (unless you want to add a new request, of course).

The best strategy is to plant the seed consciously and let it grow. Forget the box. Really, forget it. Forget the box until one day the feelings will make it clear to you. There is your seed which has grown into a tree :).

***

I am going to fill in my Request Box this month. What about You?

***

Photo courtesy Fe 108Aums, available under the Creative Commons license on Flickr.

***

 

 

Coaching is a practice of conscious development

Coaching is about paying attention.
Coaching is about acceptance.
Coaching is about asking questions.
Coaching is about listening.
Coaching is about learning.
Coaching is about rising your consciousness.
Coaching is about the right actions at the right time.

In the traditional view, coaching is about setting goals and taking actions to achieve them. Coaching is also focussed on solutions, instead of what is not working.

While this is true, it is only a partial truth.

Why?

Because coaching is much more than that.

Coaching is about powerful transformations. And you can make them happen either with or without goals. Goals are helpful but not necessary.

Coaching is about asking powerful questions

It starts with the most important questions:

  • Who are you?
  • How do you feel in this moment?
  • What do you notice about yourself and your feelings?
  • What makes you joy?
  • Whom do you want to become?
  • What are your deepest desires?
  • What do you want to achieve in the coming five years?

But it doesn’t stop there. Coaching always wants you to go through a process of learning: observation, thinking, feeling, action, reflection and change. Coaching encourages you to go for a direct experience because coaching asks for a balance between action and thought.

Coaching is a process

Oftentimes, coaching or self-coaching is presented as a bag of tools and techniques that once implemented will lead you to a particular result. This is a partial truth, again. The tools work when short-term efforts are required for achieving specific goals or challenges, but they fail when a transformation or change is necessary on multiple levels.

Why?

Because general tools are insufficient. There is much more happening beyond the surface of You (and who You are) that needs addressing before a real transformation may happen. Be it fears, guilt, lack of motivation, values or limiting beliefs. Only specific, person-tailored or situation-tailored exercises and practices can help with that.

True coaching goes hand in hand with the process of change, encouraging you to dig deeper, ask better questions, find better answers, act on them and learn.

Willing to change

Coaching only makes sense if you really want to change and are willing to transform. Without that, coaching can only lead you through avenues of frustrations.

You can easily understand that by watching coaches of the famous athletes.These sportsmen really want to achieve a particular result. They don’t lack the motivation in a big frame although they may lack it on a particular cold and wet morning. Coaches are their ultimate supporters, the guys who will join them in effort, pain and joy.  Coaches are there to encourage, acknowledge, support and challenge, while going alongside until they feel comfortable enough to do it alone.

In my early enthusiasm I used to coach anyone who was interested. It was a great learning time. Now, I know that selection is the key. Not everybody is willing to go through coaching and only few are willing to grow. No quick fixes bring satisfactory results. Coaching others who are unmotivated and refuse to take the actions is useless.

True coaching

True coaching always touches the deepest issues of our being: identity, spirituality, desires, motivations, core values and beliefs. So, if you want to go through coaching or self-coaching, be prepared to tackle such issues. You will remarkably benefit from that! Not even mentioning your enormous growth.

You don’t need to have a personal coach for an effective and long-term growth, although having one is helpful. Self-coaching works very well if you are prepared to ask yourself questions and act upon the answers you find.

Finally

Remember, the miracle of coaching lies in its focus on the solutions, instead of the problems.

Coaching always looks for the way forward.

***

The image above is a photo of a painting of the remarkable Chester cathedral. I made it some years ago when a number of paintings were collected there.

 

 Page 1 of 2  1  2 »