I sometimes wonder how often I see another human being. By which I mean, really see them. People are amazing – infinitely deep. complex and self-contradictory. It was that sense of the potential and rich variety in people that first drew me to coaching.
As a Supervisor, I see the potential in Coaches and often how their own self-definition, anxiety or attachments limit the expression of that potential. So, part of my job is to explore and co-discover that potential with the Coach. The Coach’s relationship with their clients is the field in which this work is done.
It seems fairly obvious that the first pre-requisite of this work is that, as far as I am able, I bring the totality of my Self to the party. I need to be fully embodied and in the room with the Coach, modelling the quality of Presence that will allow the Coach also to be fully embodied and Present. The question is “What is the totality of my Self, and how do I bring that to the service of my clients and my world?” This, to me, is the heart of coaching and supervision as reflective practices.
In the Coaching Supervision Academy we value that quality of Presence greatly, and you may have seen it exquisitely demonstrated by Monica and others during our Diploma Workshops. What interests me is how that quality can be developed and enhanced. Clearly, Presence is not a technique, though it involves some skills. I think it may be more accurate to say that Presence is a state which allows those skills to manifest most effectively.
In my experience, the most powerful way to develop and maintain that quality has been the practice of meditation. Meditation, of course, is a bit in vogue – particularly something called “Mindfulness Meditation”. Mindfulness Meditation, in conjunction with techniques in Cognitive Therapy, is advocated by the NHS as an effective treatment for depression, anxiety and stress, and in pain management. Some of you may have been involved in this work, and I have seen it’s beneficial effects at first hand. There is mounting evidence from studies in neuroscience and neuro-biology that this approach has tangible physiological benefits.
However, the benefits of meditation go deeper than this. Mindfulness is a doorway – and much meditation stops at the door. A deeper meditation practice is one way to develop presence with yourself – a pre-requisite to developing presence with another. And presence with yourself is the key to accessing your own – and your client’s – deeper levels of intuitive wisdom.
So – developing presence through meditation helps a Supervisor to:
- Model openness, calmness and authenticity
- Demonstrate a level of clarity about themselves, the Supervisee and the Supervisee’s client which will identify areas of parallel process and transference
- Help the Supervisee reflect on wider and deeper implications beyond a specific client or situation
- Access deep levels of intuition and intuitive wisdom
- Be prepared to operate in a field of “not knowing” in which knowledge, understanding and wisdom can spontaneously arise
I’ll be writing later blogs on how this works and practical ways of developing the qualities of presence and intuitive wisdom.
Later in 2013 I’ll be running workshops in Brighton on this theme, specifically for Coaches and Supervisiors. In the meantime, for those interested in a more generic approach, I am running a workshop on Formless Meditation at the Anahata Centre in Brighton on February 9th. Details on the Events Page at : www.bodhitreebrighton.org.uk
If you would like more information about this or future events, please contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org .
Ian Mackenzie is a trainer and tutor for the CSA Diploma in Coaching Supervision