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Contemplative Coaching

Decades ago, Zen master Shunryu Suzuki presented his students with a powerful yet paradoxical piece of wisdom: 'Each of you is perfect the way you are…and you can use a little improvement.' This seeming contradiction points to a profound truth: we blend the extraordinary and the ordinary, the absolute and the relative. It’s in this space of seeming duality that we face our lives, and it’s here that contemplative coaching operates, teaching people to dance in both domains.


In the relative realm, human responsibilities often become the driving force for our lives, obscuring the absolute and sometimes the things we love, too.  What makes it so difficult is that these drives get us into fixed mindsets that are often so compulsory, so automatic, that we are in them before we know it.  The most peculiar thing about the process is that we tend to take these experiences as true and complete—that this is who we are—even if we knew ourselves differently just moments ago.  To meet these mechanisms, we need access to our foundation in awareness.


Fortunately, with the advanced mindfulness practices used in contemplative coaching, practices that engage experience rather than just observe it, it’s possible to not only “see” these parts of yourself but to build a relationship with them that gives you more room to move.  As you do, agency, authenticity, and opportunity increase, simultaneously opening the door to the direct experience of your deepest sense of self: a spacious, loving presence—the absolute reality of who you are—called being.


Coaching is focused on finding your best way of being. Again considering the relative and absolute, the word being has more than one meaning.  In coaching, we explore these dual aspects of being to foster a more integrated and fulfilling existence. In the deepest sense, it means resting in our experience, stepping out of the forward-focused momentum, and finding the felt sense of space within.  On the relative level, being means showing up to our needs, tasks, and responsibilities with a full sense of ourselves and whatever resource is necessary, knowing that our roles are like outfits we wear to certain affairs, but not the place we call home.


It's important to distinguish contemplative coaching from psychotherapy, as they serve different but complementary purposes. Coaching doesn’t diagnose and treat mental health disorders, whereas psychotherapy does.  Coaching is here to help people live more fully so they experience more of what they want, while psychotherapy will help you resolve past issues that interrupt the present.  Lastly, Coaching is more of a short-term service, whereas psychotherapy, due to its depth, is often longer in duration.


Coaching is a great option if you’re interested in opening to the depths of who you are or want to find more freedom.  If you are looking to work through the trauma from your past, get out of depression, or do something like EMDR, psychotherapy is the better option.  The two services aren’t meant to be mutually exclusive; they can work well together in tandem and often do, and I’m more than happy to have a discussion to help clarify these things a little further if ever needed.


If you would like to schedule a no-cost, 30-minute consultation or have any lingering questions, please feel free to contact me.


-John



Photo Credit: Daniel Torobekov



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