Archive for the ‘Coaching Tools’ Category

  • Open channels for others to communicate their feelings

    Wednesday, July 17th, 2013

    ‘I have found it enriching to open channels whereby others can communicate their feelings, their private perceptual worlds, to me.’

    “Because understanding is rewarding, I would like to reduce the barriers between others and me, so that they can, if they wish, reveal themselves more fully.

    In the therapeutic relationship there are a number of ways by which I can make it easier for the client to communicate himself. I can by my own attitudes create a safety in the relationship which makes such communication more possible. A sensitiveness of understanding which sees him as he is to himself, and accepts him as having those perceptions and feelings, helps too.

    But as a teacher also I have found that I am enriched when I can open channels through which others can share themselves with me. So I try, often not too successfully, to create a climate in the classroom where feelings can be expressed, where people can differ – with each other and with the instructor. I have also frequently asked for ‘reaction sheets’ from students – in which they can express themselves individually and personally regarding the course. They can tell of the way it is or is not meeting their needs, they can express their feelings regarding the instructor, or can tell of the personal difficulties they are having in relation to the course. These reaction sheets have no relation whatsoever to their grade. Sometimes the same sessions of a course are experienced in diametrically opposite ways. One student says, ‘My feeling is one of indefinable revulsion with the tone of this class.’ Another, a foreign student, speaking of the same week of the same course says, ‘Our class follows the best, fruitful and scientific way of learning. But for people who have been taught a long, long time, as we have, by the lecture type, by the authoritative method, this new procedure is ununderstandable. People like us are conditioned to hear the instructor, to keep passively our notes and memorize his reading assignments for the exams. There is no need to say that it takes a long time for people to get rid of their habits regardless of whether or not their habits are sterile, infertile and barren.’ To open myself to these sharply different feelings has been a deeply rewarding thing.

    I have found the same thing true in groups where I am the administrator, or perceived as the leader. I wish to reduce the need for fear or defensiveness, so that people can communicate their feelings freely.”

  • Permit yourself to understand another person

    Tuesday, July 9th, 2013

    ‘I have found it of enormous value when I can permit myself to understand another person.’

    “The way in which I have worded this statement may seem strange to you. Is it necessary to permit oneself to understand another? I think it is. Our first reaction to most of the statements which we hear from other people is an immediate evaluation or judgment, rather than an understanding of it. When someone expresses some feeling or attitude or belief, our tendency is, almost immediately, to feel ‘That’s right’; or ‘That’s stupid’; ‘That’s abnormal’; ‘That’s unreasonable’; ‘That’s incorrect’; ‘That’s not nice’. Very rarely do we permit ourselves to understand precisely what the meaning of his statement is to him. I believe this is because understanding is risky. If I let myself really understand another person, I might be changed by that understanding. And we all fear change. So as I say, it is not an easy thing to permit oneself to understand an individual, to enter thoroughly and completely and empathetically into his frame of reference. It is also a rare thing.

    To understand is enriching in a double way. I find when I am working with people in distress, that to understand the bizarre world of a psychotic individual, or to understand and sense the attitudes of a person who feels that life is too tragic to bear, or to understand a man who feels that he is a worthless and inferior individual – each of these understandings somehow enriches me. I learn from these experiences in ways that change me, that make me a different and, I think, a more responsive person. Even more important perhaps, is the fact that my understanding of these individuals permits them to change. It permits them to accept their own fears and bizarre thoughts and tragic feelings and discouragements, as well as their moments of courage and kindness and love and sensitivity. And it is their experience as well as mine that when someone fully understands those feelings, this enables them to accept those feelings in themselves. Then they find both the feelings and themselves changing. Whether it is understanding a woman who feels that very literally she has a hook on her head by which others lead her about, or understanding a man who feels that no one is as lonely, no one is as separated from others as he, I find these understandings to be of value to me. But also, and even more importantly, to be understood has a very positive value to these individuals.”

  • Listen to yourself, be yourself

    Saturday, June 29th, 2013

     ‘I find I am more effective when I can listen acceptantly to myself, and can be myself.’

    “I feel that over the years I have learned to become more adequate in listening to myself; so that I know, somewhat more adequately than I used to, what I am feeling at any given moment – to be able to realize I am angry, or that I do feel rejecting toward this person; or that I feel very full of warmth and affection for this individual; or that I am bored and uninterested in what is going on; or that I a eager to understand this individual or that I am anxious and fearful in my relationship to this person. All of these diverse attitudes are feelings which I think I can listen to in myself. One way of putting this is that I feel I have become more adequate in letting myself be what I am. It becomes easier for me to accept myself as a decidedly imperfect person, who by no means functions at all times in the way which I would like to function.

    This must seem to some like a very strange direction in which to move. It seems to me to have value because the curious paradox is that when I accept myself as I am, then I change. I believe that I have learned this from my own experience – that we cannot change, we cannot move away from what we are, until we thoroughly accept what we are. Then change seems to come about almost unnoticed.

    Another result which seems to grow out of being myself is that relationships then become real. Real relationships have an exciting way of being vital and meaningful. If I can accept the fact that I am annoyed at or bored by someone, then I am also much more likely to be able to accept his feelings in response. I can also accept the changed experience and the changed feelings which are then likely to occur in me and in him. Real relationships tend to change rather than to remain static.

    So I find that it effective to let myself be what I am in my attitudes, to know when I have reached my limit of endurance or of tolerance, and to accept that as a fact; to know when I desire to mold or manipulate people, and to accept that as a fact in myself. I would like to be as acceptant of these feelings as of feelings of warmth, interest, permissiveness, kindness, understanding, which are also very real part of me. It is when I do accept all these attitudes as a fact, as a part of me, that my relationship with the other person then becomes what it is, and is able to grow and change more readily.”

  • Do not act as something you are not

    Sunday, June 23rd, 2013

     I am going to share some discoveries about relationships which I have been ‘taught by Carl Rogers’ through his writings, and these learnings are taken from his book: “On Becoming a Person”.

    ‘In my relationships with persons I have found that it does not help, in the long run, to act as though I were something that I am not.’

    “It does not help to act calm and pleasant when actually I am angry and critical. It does not help to act as though I know the answers when I do not. It does not help to act as though I were a loving person if actually, at the moment, I am hostile. It does not help for me to act as though I were full of assurance, if actually I am frightened and unsure. Even on a very simple level I have found that this statement seems to hold. It does not help for me to act as though I were well when I feel ill.

    What I am saying here, put in another way, is that I have not found it to be helpful or effective in my relationships with other people to try to maintain a facade; to act in one way on the surface when I am experiencing something quite different underneath. It does not, I believe, make me helpful in my attempts to build up constructive relationships with other individuals. I would want to make it clear that while I feel I have learned this to be true, I have by no means adequately profited from it. In fact, it seems to me that most of the mistakes I make in personal relationships, most of the times in which I fail to be of help to other individuals, can be accounted for in terms of the fact that I have, for some defensive reason, behaved in one way at a surface level, while in reality my feelings run in a contrary direction.”

    If these thoughts resonate with you in one way or other, do share with us. It would be great to have a discussion going with others who have similar experiences.

  • There is no need to ‘fix things’

    Sunday, June 23rd, 2013

    ‘The more I am open to the realities in me and in the other person, the less do I find myself wishing to rush in to “fix things”.’

    “As I try to listen to myself and the experiencing going on in me, and the more I try to extend that same listening attitude to another person, the more respect I feel for the complex processes of life. So I become less and less inclined to hurry in to fix things, to set goals, to mold people, to manipulate and push them in the way that I would like them to go. I am much more content simply to be myself and to let another person be himself. I know very well that this must seem like a strange, almost an Oriental point of view. What is life for is we are not going to do things for people? What is life for if we are not going to mold them to our purposes? What is life for if we are not going to teach them the things that we think they should learn? What is life for if we are not going to make them think and feel as we do? How can anyone hold such an inactive point of view as the one I am expressing? I am sure that attitudes such as these must be a part of the reaction of many of you.

    Yet the paradoxical aspect of my experience is that the more I am simply willing to be myself, in all this complexity of life and the more I am willing to understand and accept the realities in myself and in the other person, the more change seems to be stirred up. It is a very paradoxical thing – that to the degree that each one of us is willing to be himself, then he finds not only himself changing; but he finds that other people to whom he relates are also changing. At least this is a very vivid part of my experience, and one of the deepest things I think I have learned in my personal and professional life.”

  • Accept another person, wholly

    Sunday, June 23rd, 2013

    ‘I have found it highly rewarding when I can accept another person.’

    “I have found that truly to accept another person and his feelings is by no means an easy thing, any more than is understanding. Can I really permit another person to feel hostile toward me? Can I accept his anger as a real and legitimate part of himself? Can I accept him when he views life and its problems in a way quite different from mine? Can I accept him when he feels very positively toward me, admiring me and wanting to model himself after me? All this is involved in acceptance, and it does not come easy. I believe that it is an increasingly common pattern in our culture for each one of us to believe, ‘Every other person must feel and think and believe the same as I do’. We find it very hard to permit our children or our parents or our spouses to feel differently than we do about particular issues or problems. We cannot permit our clients or our students to differ from us or to utilize their experience in their own individual ways. On a national scale, we cannot permit another nation to think or feel differently than we do. Yet it has come to seem to me that this separateness of individuals, the right of each individual to utilize his experience in his own way and to discover his own meanings in it, – this is one of the most priceless potentialities of life.

    Each person is an island unto himself, in a very real sense; and he can only build bridges to other islands if he is first of all willing to be himself and permitted to be himself. So I find that when I can accept another person, which means specifically accepting the feelings and attitudes and beliefs that he has as a real and vital part of him, then I am assisting him to become a person: and there seems to me great value in this.”

  • Two ways of seeing the world

    Tuesday, October 2nd, 2012

    The Buddhist monk and humanitarian Mathieu Ricard celebrates the virtues of optimism as the attitude that allows us to move forward and accomplish our aims in life, despite setbacks and difficulties. While pessimism convinces us that our problems will last forever and we have no capability to act, optimism brings hope (the kind that is not simply the observe of fear), as well as resolve, adaptability, serenity, and meaning.

    An optimist is somebody who considers his problems to be temporary, controllable, and linked to a specific situation. He will say: “There’s no reason to make a fuss about it; these things don’t last. I’ll figure it out; in any case, I usually do.”

    The pessimist, on the other hand, thinks that his problems will last (”It’s not the sort of thing that just goes away”), that they jeopardize everything he does and are out of control (”What do you expect me to do about it?”). He also imagines that he has some basic inner flaw; he tells people, “Whatever I do, it always turns out the same way,” and concludes, “I’m not cut out to be happy.”

    How many of us are afflicted with this sense of insecurity when we allow such pessimism to take over our lives?

    The pessimist is constantly anticipating disaster and falls victim to chronic anxiety and doubt. Morose, irritable, and nervous, he has no confidence in the world or himself and always expects to be bullied, abandoned, and ignored.

    The optimist, however, trusts that it is possible to achieve his goals and that with patience, resolve, and intelligence, he will ultimately do so. The fact is, more often than not, he does.

    If pessimism and suffering were as immutable as fingerprints or eye color, it would be more sensitive to avoid trumpeting the benefits of happiness and optimism. But if optimism is a way of looking at life and happiness a condition that can be cultivated, one might as well get down to work without further delay.

    How do we want to see the world?

    Even if we are born with a certain predisposition to look for the silver lining, and even if the influence of those who raise us nudges our outlook toward pessimism or optimism, our interpretation of the world will shift later on, and considerably, because our minds are flexible.

    “How marvelous human society would be if everyone added his own wood to the fire instead of crying over the ashes!” – Alain

  • Developing healthy desires

    Saturday, September 22nd, 2012

    Jack Kornfield, the renowned Buddhist teacher and psychologist said:

    “Desire is not a bad thing. It’s a source of life and creativity. But unhealthy desire causes pain and suffering. If we pay intimate attention to the workings of desire, we can discover how to transform it into an experience of health, wealth, and well-being.”

    Our world runs on desire. We would not have been born without sexual desire. Without continuing desire we would die. There is desire for love, connection, understanding, growth. When people lose their desire to live, they jump off the bridge or swallow pills. We need desire. And yet, desire is also a great challenge for us. There is no getting rid of desire but how do we differentiate between healthy and unhealthy desire?

    Connect the root of desire with the neutral mental factor called the will to do. It is part of the energy of life. When the will to do is directed in healthy ways, it brings about healthy desires. When the will to do is directed in unhealthy ways, it brings about unhealthy desires. The traditional description of unhealthy desires includes greed, addiction, overwhelming ambition, gambling, womanizing, and avarice. Unhealthy desires give rise to possessiveness, self-centredness, dissatisfaction, compulsion, unworthiness, insatiability, and similar forms of suffering.

    “Most people fail to see reality because of wanting. They are attached; they cling to material objects, to pleasures, to the things of this world. This very clinging is the source of suffering.” ~ Majjhima Nikaya

    “You, the richest person in the world, have been laboring and struggling endlessly, not understanding that you already possess all that you seek.” ~ The Lotus Sutra

    Healthy desires allow us to feed and clothe and care of ourselves, to tend our body and our children, to develop work and our community. Healthy desires are associated with caring, appreciation, and loving-kindness. This is evident in the healthy, caring bond between parents and children in some countries. Thai, Tibetan, and Sri Lankan children are held in every lap, with beaming faces, uninhibited playfulness, full of love of life. For all of us, these same healthy desires give rise to dedication, steadiness, stewardship, graciousness, generosity, and flexibility. They are the source of happiness.

    It is apparent which desire we will choose to develop but we must remember to do so more freely, without worry and grasping. It feels so much better. With this mindfulness, we will have the ability to enter the world of desire without clinging, playfully and freely. Buddhist psychology wants us to release unhealthy desires and to hold healthy desires lightly.

    A quote from Hsi Tang describes this advice aptly:

    “Although gold dust is precious, when it gets in your eyes, it obstructs your vision.”

  • How will I use this day?

    Tuesday, August 14th, 2012

    I am sharing this article written by SAKYONG MIPHAM RINPOCHE on ways we can use the day with mindfulness and great awareness. He mentioned that all of us meditate throughout the whole day but the focus is often on “me”. He said that if we cultivate a different outlook on our day and how we spend it, our meditation can turn toward more positive and creative qualities. And they will give us the inspiration and strength to make the decisions we need to encounter life’s challenges.

    Our modern culture does not encourage awakening, and without a sense of inner strength, we are easily invaded by the difficulties around us. If we don’t orient our day toward spiritual growth, the speed of our life takes over, fueled by habitual patterns. While some habitual patterns are a source of inspiration, others just drain our energy. Meditation trains us to notice these patterns, which create the fabric of the entity known as ‘me’.

    How do we cultivate this mindfulness into the day?

    His answer: By seeing the day as our life, and our life as the path, we learn to regard everything we meet as an opportunity to practice. He recommended 7 facets of awakened mind that we can consciously cultivate to enhance the path-like texture of our life.

    (1) Egolessness. In order to grow, we must be willing to give up territory. We may look fervently for the teacher, teachings, or situation that fits into our comfort zone, but the path is not going to happen on our own terms. Are we prepared to abandon our habitual patterns – to give up the support of concepts, opinions, and comforts? To make progress, we need to be willing to change.

    (2) Faith. The word ‘faith’ often has the sense that even though we’re not really sure about something, we believe in it anyway. The faith we’re talking about here, however, is based on knowing what we’re doing, not in hoping for the best. It’s as if we’ve checked our boat for holes and found none, so we set sail with a yearning to be completely engaged in practice because we’re certain that the teachings will work. The active ingredient of our yearning manifests as strength and compassion. There are 3 kinds of faith. First is the faith of inspiration. Seeing a teacher, hearing a dharma, or visiting a meditation center,we feel immediate inspiration. Faith suddenly arises as a very powerful hit. It hooks our mind and we become excited about it. We just know. But that kind of faith is not sustainable. We must supplement our inspiration with curiosity, from which the second kind of faith arises, understanding. We ask ourselves, ‘What made that person that way? Why is this place so powerful?’ Unless we investigate our inspiration, we will lose our motivation to practice. So we get curious – reading, studying, and hearing dharma. That’s how we increase our understanding, which leads to a deeper kind of faith because we know why we were inspired in the first place. The third kind of faith is following through. Having been impressed, then curious, we now think, ‘I want to be like that, so I will follow through.’ The three kinds of faith naturally sequence into a potent driving force, combining inner strength and compassion.

    (3) Daring. Daring to do what? We dare to jump out of our samsaric habitual tendencies into more dharmic ones. When we see ourselves falling into the ‘me’ meditation, we emerge from our hallucination and courageously take a leap into a more open place. This can be as simple as giving up our place in line to someone in a hurry.

    (4) Gentleness. If we dare to jump out of laziness, we might become slightly aggressive, thus this quality of gentleness is needed for cultivation. This means slowing down so that we synchronize our intention with our speech and action. Our intention is to use the day as a spiritual path. What is the path? It is a place to grow. With gentleness, we provide the space and warmth for growth, but we don’t force progress – our own or others’. If we’re not in a rush with our own mind, we have the patience to let things unfold naturally.

    (5) Fearlessness. If we become too gentle, however, we might become too feeble, so fearlessness will help to balance it. In terms of how we engage in our life, we’re no longer second-guessing ourselves, because we’re not afraid of our mind. We can look at it head-on. Although we encounter obstacles, we steadfastly move forward; we’re not afraid of giving up territory or taking a leap. Fearlessness has a decisive element, too: at some point we can respond to a situation with a simple ‘ye’ or ‘no’ – the ‘maybes’ go out of the door.

    (6) Awareness. No longer cloaked in habitual patterns, no longer using hope and fear to manipulate the environment, we’re aware of what’s happening in our life. We have more energy because we’re not burdened by trying to maintain the concept and polarity of ‘me’. Our practice becomes more three-dimensional.

    (7) Sense of humor. No great practitioner is without a good sense of humor. It’s s sign of pliability and intelligence. Who wants to be a brow-heavy practitioner, squinting hard as we try to push out realization? With a dharmic eye, we’re able to see things with some levity because we’re connected to our wholesomeness.

    Each morning we can choose one of these elements as a daily contemplation and practice. Throughout the day, we can train ourselves to bring our mind to ‘egolessness’, ‘faith’, or ‘gentleness’, for instance – as words, then action. In the evening, we can take a moment before going to sleep and reflect on what happened: “How did I use this day to nurture my mind and heart?”

    (Article taken from “In The Face of Fear” by Shamhala Publications, Inc.)

  • Loving Speech is speaking from the Heart

    Sunday, February 26th, 2012

    “Words can travel thousands of miles. May my words create mutual understanding and love. May they be as beautiful as gems, as lovely as flowers.” – Thich Nhat Hanh

    How often have we allowed ourselves to say a harsh word or two to a friend or a family member in a moment of anger or irritation? I have witnessed too many parents berating their children in public, sometimes over the slightest mistake made by the child or when the child was simply being playful like how most children would be. I have seen the spirit of these children diminish as seeds of fear, anger and frustration were watered before my eyes. Words have power. They can be used mindfully and responsibly to inspire motivate, create, heal, and offer guidance and support. They can also hurt, abuse, divide, attack, lie, gossip, judge, and diminish.

    Buddha once said: ‘A person is born with an axe in his mouth. He whose speech is unwholesome cuts himself with an axe.’ The blade wounds us, for what we say of others is often true of ourselves. Our communication often reflects the seeds within us that have been nurtured or neglected.

    Jerry Braza shared in his book “The Seeds of Love” :

    Loving speech implies deep listening, taking the time to be still and quiet long enough to listen to what takes place in our minds and hearts so that we are better equipped to respond mindfully to others. We usually tend to speak from the head rather than from the heart. It is typical to be thinking and planning what to say from the head. At other times, the need to be right interferes with heart communication. Do you want to be right, or do you want to be happy?

    When we focus on feelings and happiness over righteousness and superiority, we create a communication from the heart. These are the cornerstones for emotional intimacy and a means of developing a deeper connection with others.

    “No man should talk one way with his lips and think another way in his heart” – The Talmud

    How do we water the seed of loving speech?

    Thich Nhat Hanh said: ‘Knowing that words can create happiness or suffering, I am committed to speaking truthfully using words that inspire confidence, joy, and hope.’

    Jerry Braza shared further: ‘In every moment, as you are about to communicate electronically or verbally, mindfully stop and realize the potential impact of the message you are about to send. Does it inspire confidence, joy, and hope? Or does it foster greater suffering in yourself and others? A friend who responds to your illness with ‘I send you healing light and energy’, versus ‘Why haven’t you taken better care of yourself?’ is watering the seeds of loving-kindness in you with loving speech.

    Loving speech is best achieved by our awareness of how our words reduce suffering and inspire hope – or how they create more suffering. Knowing the power our words can have, it is important to consider the impact of what we say.

    How will our next words water the seeds of joy, compassion, and equanimity?

    How do my words fuel the seeds of anger, fear or jealousy?