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Sunlight on Leaves

So I’m sitting with Edna on a Summer afternoon in a tea garden in Lewes. The sun is warm and bright and we are talking about presence and mindfulness and other things.

Edna says “You should write a blog.”

“I wouldn’t know what to write about”, I reply

“Whatever you think is important”

I look out across the garden, and say “I think sunlight on leaves is important…”

So this is a short blog on sunlight on leaves. Now, you may well be thinking “What’s this doing on a Coaching Supervision web-site?”  Well, before I get into that, I invite you stop and look around you. What do you see? No, really. What do you see? Not what do you think, feel, like or dislike about it. What do you see? What do you hear?  If you get out of the way – what’s there?

As I develop as a coach and supervisor, I become more and more aware of the difference between the stories I tell myself about what’s going on, and what’s really happening. Not that the  stories have no value – at their best they enable me to evaluate, plan analyse, respond. But the moment I think they’re any more than stories, or when they take up the majority of my perceptual field, then I’ve lost contact with what’s actually going on in the room. And in a very important sense, that’s all that’s real.

So this is about Presence

“ …a deep listening, of being beyond one’s preconceptions and historical ways of making sense”  – Peter Senge.

“The ability to be fully conscious and create spontaneous relationship with the client”  – ICF competency framework

To me it seems that Presence has two aspects which are closely linked:

  • The ability to be fully present with ourselves – to be aware of our own process, feelings and thoughts without identifying with or becoming attached or averse to them.
  • The ability to be present with others  – extending the same non-judgemental awareness.

As Supervisors, we clearly need to be fully present with our Supervisee – we need, most of the time, to be more aware of the Supervisee than we are of ourselves, with our full attention on their issues, process, emotions etc. We also need to be able to help the supervisee discover that calm, open awareness in themselves. And then to be able to work in that open space with their own clients.

It is in this space that the coach’s “inner supervisor” can manifest. It is also in this space that we become aware of transference, counter transference, projection and parallel process.

My own belief – and experience of myself and others – suggests that we all have that ability, but we don’t always access it. There are various approaches that can help us re-discover it – and I’m hoping to say more about those in future blogs. But one key element is confidence – or perhaps even faith. Faith in one’s intrinsic ability to let go of the need to be safe, or to be right, or to be able to fix things, or to be in control, or please the client, or give value for money, or have the right tool or process. Faith to let the skilled, appropriate response arise from a space of not-knowing.

So – sunlight on leaves. Today the rain is falling. It is as it is.

Ian   e:

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