A Research Paper By Steve Sankar, Transformational Coach, TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO
What Are Meditation and Coaching
History of Meditation
Cambridge Dictionary defines meditation as “the act of giving your attention to only one thing, either as a religious activity or as a way of becoming calm and relaxed”.
The earliest written records of meditation originated in India around 1500BCE from the Hindu tradition Vendatism. Other forms of meditation are cited around the 6th and 5th centuries BCE within Taoist China and Buddhist India.
Meditation first began to be of interest in the West in the 1700s, with the translation of The Upanishads, The Bhagavad Gita, and The Buddhist Sutras (Eastern philosophy texts containing references to meditation techniques and practices) into different European languages.
By the 18th century, meditation was seen only as a topic for discussion and interest by philosophers and intellectuals, including Voltaire and Schopenhauer (Abelson, 2008). It wasn’t until the 20th century, when the prominent Indian yogi, Swami Vivekananda, delivered a presentation at the Parliament of Religions in Chicago, that meditation became more prominent, especially in the United States. (Positivepsychology.com)
Types of Meditation
The website Healthline.com states that there are nine popular types of meditation practice:
- mindfulness meditation
- spiritual meditation
- focused meditation
- movement meditation
- mantra meditation
- transcendental meditation
- progressive relaxation
- loving-kindness meditation
- visualization meditation.
Benefits of Meditation
Meditation has a long history of use for increasing calmness and physical relaxation, improving psychological balance, coping with illness, and enhancing overall health and well-being.
According to the United States National Center for Complementary and Integrated Health (NCCIH), there is NCCIH-funded research that suggests meditation may physically change the brain, and body, and could potentially help to improve many health problems and promote healthy behaviors. Some of these findings are:
- 2012 study – researchers compared brain images from 50 adults who meditate and 50 adults who don’t meditate. Results suggested that people who practiced meditation for many years have more folds in the outer layer of the brain. This process (called gyrification) may increase the brain’s ability to process information.
- 2013 review of three studies suggest that meditation may slow, stall, or even reverse changes that take place in the brain due to normal aging.
- Results from a 2012 NCCIH-funded study suggest that meditation can affect activity in the amygdala (a part of the brain involved in processing emotions) and that different types of meditation can affect the amygdala differently even when the person is not meditating.
- Research about meditation’s ability to reduce pain has produced mixed results. However, in some studies, scientists suggest that meditation activates certain areas of the brain in response to pain.
Meditation and Coaching
There may come a time in life when we feel like we’ve lost all awareness of who we are, and come to believe that we are without value, virtues, and power, and from this state of consciousness, we set off to achieve our goals and create a life we want. This situation can occur to coaches and clients alike. Through the process of meditation, we can rediscover our unique qualities, virtues, values, and inner power.
This research paper aims to highlight the benefits of meditation, specifically Raja Yoga meditation, and how it can be useful in supporting both coaches and clients in achieving their unique objectives in the coaching session. This type of mediation can be considered spiritual meditation as listed previously under the meditation types by Healthline.com.
Raja Yoga Meditation
Raja Yoga meditation, as taught by the Brahma Kumaris World Spiritual University, is a form of meditation that is accessible to people of all backgrounds, free from rituals or mantras, and can be practiced anywhere, and at any time. Raja Yoga meditation is practiced with “open eyes”, which makes this method of meditation versatile, simple, and easy to practice.
Meditation is a state of being in that place just beyond everyday consciousness, which is where spiritual empowerment begins. Spiritual awareness gives us the power to choose good and positive thoughts over those which are negative and wasteful. We start to respond to situations, rather than just reacting to them. We begin to live in harmony, create better and happier, healthier relationships and change our lives in a most positive way. (https://www.brahmakumaris.org/meditation/raja-yoga-meditation)
According to the Brahma Kumaris World Spiritual University, Raja Yoga meditation is a five-step process that allows you to arrive at a quiet, still place, with just a single stride – a single thought. With regular practice, the practitioner will no longer require the five steps but instead be able to achieve the meditative state within one step – a second.
Step 1 – Relaxation
Relaxation is about letting go of tension and stress and bringing the mind and body into a state of calm and peace.
Step 2 – Concentration
Concentration allows the practitioner to use time productively, and once relaxed, be able to focus on the thoughts they choose to have.
Step 3 – Contemplation
Contemplation is reflecting deeply on oneself, their inner world, and values.
Step 4 – Realisation
Realization is when understanding and feelings combine, and there is the experience of a more profound, and more meaningful reality.
Step 5 – Meditation
Meditation is focusing on thought and remembering the eternal identity, re-awakening a wonderful state of well-being, and experiencing inner silence.
Raja Yoga meditation allows us to tap into our inner silence, find clarity, think differently, and change perspective. Experiencing inner silence can become a frequent experience with a regular meditation practice. From this place of silence, you will better understand what to do when life’s challenges come, and how to manage them. Challenges then become the means to strengthen our inner world and we become more resilient.
According to the Brahma Kumaris’philosophy, inner silence allows you to:
- Find peace within – peace is an innate quality of the inner being. Beneath all the confusion and negativity, thoughts and feelings, there is an unlimited supply of peace that exists at the core of every human being.
- Listen to the inner dialogue – inner silence allows us to observe the quality of our thoughts and identify their origin. This ability allows us to go to the heart of the challenges we experience, so the necessary corrective actions can be taken.
- Access the inner library – at the core of every human being, lies a wealth of virtues, and qualities that when used, will allow for achieving success and happiness in life.
- Listen to nature and others – being in harmony with others allows for positive connections and relationships, and sustainability for the environment and nature.
- Discover and heal the inner child – this reservoir of positive energy can be called the soul. It’s tiny and invisible to the human eye. The soul sparkles with spiritual power. The soul is naturally sweet and loving. The soul is peaceful. The soul holds memories. The soul is unique. Through this rediscovery, human beings are able to create positive thoughts, words, and actions, and create a life of success and happiness.
The Benefits of Raja Yoga Meditation in Coaching
The practice of raja yoga meditation can equally be of benefit to the coach and client. Coaches and clients are equally exposed to all of life’s circumstances and can be equally affected by all of these challenges, situations, and emotions.
Benefits of Raja Yoga Meditation Practice to the Coach
The coach will experience the mind and body being in a state of calm and peace. This relaxed state can support the coach by acknowledging and supporting the client’s expression of feelings, perceptions, concerns, beliefs, and suggestions, in a manner that allows for cultivating an environment of trust and safety in the coaching session, and within the coach and client relationship. It can also enable the coach to allow the client to speak without interruption unless there is a stated coaching purpose to do so.
Through concentration, the coach will be able to use the time in the coaching session productively, and once relaxed, be able to achieve a focused thinking process, i.e. choosing the desired thoughts successfully. Through concentration, the coach will be able to facilitate client growth by allowing the client to explore progress toward what the client wanted to accomplish in the session and inviting the client to consider how they will use new learning from this coaching session.
The coach will also be able to partner with the client to design post-session thinking, reflection, or action, and consider ways for moving forward, including resources, support, or potential barriers.
Contemplation allows for deep reflection on the self, thoughts, and values. This ability can contribute to the coach’s ability in maintaining a presence with the client. The coach will be able to act in response to the whole person of the client and in response to what the client wants to accomplish throughout this session. The coach will also be able to partner with the client by supporting the client to choose what happens in the coaching session, while demonstrating curiosity to learn more about the client, and allowing for silence, pause, and reflection.
Contemplation can also enable the coach to practice active listening and customize questions and observations by using what the coach has learned about who the client is, or the client’s situation. The coach will be able to inquire about and explore the words the client uses, the client’s emotions, energy shifts, nonverbal cues, or other behaviors.
Realization is achieved when understanding and feelings combine, and the coach experiences a more profound, more meaningful reality. This can support the coach with evoking awareness through asking questions about the client, such as their current way of thinking, feeling, values, needs, wants, beliefs or behavior, and to help the client explore beyond the client’s current thinking or feelings to new or expanded ways of thinking or feeling about themself (the who), their situation (the what), or their behavior toward the client’s desired outcome. The coach will also be supported by asking clear, direct, primarily open-ended questions, one at a time, at a pace that allows for thinking, feeling, or reflection by the client.
The coach will share observations, intuitions, comments, thoughts, or feelings, with no attachment, and invite the client’s exploration through verbal or tonal invitation. The coach will use language that is generally clear and concise and be able to succinctly reflect, and/or summarise what the client communicated to ensure the client’s clarity and understanding.
Meditation is focusing on thought and remembering the eternal identity, re-awakening a wonderful state of well-being, and experiencing inner silence. This experience will allow the coach to follow the basic coaching principle of “Trust the Client, Trust the Process, Trust Yourself”, demonstrate the competencies and markers established by the International Coaching Federation, and also experience a quality of life that is predicated on peace, happiness, and inner power.
Benefits of Raja Yoga Meditation Practice to the Client
Through relaxation, the client can release tension and stress, bringing the mind and body into a state of calm and peace. This will allow the client to be able to express their thoughts and feelings in the coaching session comfortably without the distortion caused by tension and stress.
Concentration will allow the client to use the session time meaningfully and productively, once relaxed. The power of concentration automatically brings mental clarity, an elevated state of mind, and several other powers, including discernment, decision-making, and judgment, according to B.K. Usha (thedailyguardian.com/the-benefits-of-concentration/).
According to Psychology.com, the benefits of contemplation range from “improvements in emotional intelligence, mood disturbance, and psychological well-being by practicing one of the many forms of meditation. Further examples are increases in learning ability following reflection as part of professional practice, as well as better educational achievement and health outcomes due to effective self-regulation strategies”.
Realization is when understanding and feelings combine, and clients experience a more profound, more meaningful reality. There can be a greater appreciation of the present life situation and optimism about creating a brighter future. Positive Psychology’s founding father, Martin Seligman, argues in his concept of Learned Optimism that a positive perspective can be cultivated. This can benefit clients with achieving improved health, motivation and performance, and career health among other things. With a more joyful outlook on life, he explains, we’re in a much better position to enhance our wellbeing.
Meditation is focusing on thought and remembering my eternal identity, and re-awakening a wonderful state of well-being, experiencing inner silence. This can allow the client to achieve their coaching goals and objectives, along with happiness and peace in their life.
Practical Use of Raja Yoga Meditation in the Coaching Session
As with the use of any tool in the coaching session, the coach must first seek the client’s permission before its use. The coach and client can first practice a deep breathing exercise, allowing them to relax and become mentally present in the space and coaching session.
The coach can then either play an audio recording of a guided Raja Yoga meditation commentary or recite a guided meditation commentary.
Sample Raja Yoga Guided Commentary
Allow the body to become relaxed and comfortable
Focus the awareness on the center of the forehead, and away from the rest of the body
Now say to yourself –
I am a being of peace… a being of light… at the center of the forehead
I am eternal, immortal… imperishable
My original qualities are peace, love, bliss, power, and purity
I am the child of the Supreme Father… the Almighty Father
I am not this body
This body is a gift from the Almighty Father… and it serves me in every way possible in my daily activities
I am grateful for this body
I am a peaceful, loving soul
I radiate peace and love from the center of the forehead to my entire body
I radiate peace and love to everyone in my life
I allow the feelings of peace and love to overcome any feelings of hurt, anger, or fear
I am a being of peace
Raja Yoga Meditation Resource – Bee Zone App
According to Brahma Kumaris, “Bee Zone is an app created for anyone who would like to refresh themself mentally and emotionally, or needs a break from all that doing and to enjoy just being for a little while. The app contains tools that can help you relax, re-energize – and be ready for life’s next adventure in a matter of minutes.”https://bee.zone/
History of Coaching
Types of Meditation
NCCIH Benefits of Meditation
Raja Yoga Meditation
The Benefits of Concentration – B.K. Usha
Benefits of Contemplation
Learned Optimism – Martin Seligman
Bee Zone App