A Research Paper By Maurizio Salucci, Transformational Coach, ITALY
Discover the Coaching Applications of Mindfulness
This paper seeks to explore mindfulness and its coaching application. It details what mindfulness is, its history, the difference between mindfulness and meditation, some simplified practices, its benefits, and how mindfulness can be applied in coaching.
What is Mindfulness?
We live but are not present in our lives.
The ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we are doing, and not unduly reactive or overwhelmed by what is happening around us is known as mindfulness.
Developing a conscious awareness of our thoughts, feelings, and environment at all times while avoiding judgment on the experiences is what it means to be mindful. We gradually learn which thoughts and deeds bring about happiness and which ones result in sadness and unease.
Most people concur that Buddhism was the birthplace of mindfulness meditation. Although there are other theoretically distinct varieties of mindfulness practiced today, the fundamental kind has its roots in the Buddhist tradition.
Since many people believe that the word mindfulness is a translation of the Buddhist concept of Sati, which is “moment-to-moment awareness of present occurrences,” it is easy to see how mindfulness is truly at the core of Buddhism.
The message of mindfulness spread to more individuals, especially in the western world, as more Eastern Buddhists spread their teachings globally. One of them was Jon Kabat-Zinn, who is widely recognized as the founder of mindfulness.
Mindfulness or Meditation?
Given how frequently they are used in the same context, it is understandable that there is confusion regarding the differences between mindfulness and meditation. While mindfulness and meditation have similarities and can occasionally be misunderstood, they are practiced differently and have different goals.
You can be mindful without being in a state of meditation, but you cannot be in a state of meditation without being mindful. (Peter Brooks).
Being aware entails actively concentrating on the present moment while keeping an accepting and open frame of mind. It may be done “anywhere, anytime,” says Brooke Schwartz, a psychotherapist and licensed clinical social worker in Los Angeles. An approach to mindfulness known as “grounding” encourages purposeful thinking and experience with the goal of bringing you into the present. Simply said, being aware is the act of focusing on the present and your surroundings without making judgments.
Being attentive doesn’t always need you to stop what you’re doing, so it’s a great habit to develop whenever you have a moment, even while you’re rushing about (e.g. driving on the highway and finding yourself stuck in a thought spiral).
There are several methods for improving the mind, including directed (guided by another person), movement-based (body alignment that concentrates on breathing), and visual meditation (thinking of an image of something or someone and focusing your intention toward that image).
Kiana Shelton, a licensed clinical social worker with Mindpath Health, claims: “Traditionally, we think of meditation as more of a formal and time-structured activity.”
Why Do We Need to Be Mindful?
The problem we have in daily life is that, even in our spare time or leisure, we seldom ever do “nothing.” The majority of individuals are either checking social media, texting friends, or organizing their forthcoming calendar of events. We have a propensity to perform, even while we are in the middle of doing nothing. The human mind occasionally finds it difficult to stay in the present. In fact, a Harvard study found that people spend 46.9% of their waking hours thinking about things other than what they are doing. Since the mind is typically busy with thoughts of the past, the future, or speculative situations, this condition of mindlessness is frequent. The study also found that depression can result from allowing the brain to act in this way. The researchers stated that a dissatisfied mind wanders.
Most people go through life not understanding who they are or what motivates and inspires them. The first stage to becoming aware is understanding your own thoughts and motivations.
The first stage is to awaken yourself and assess who you are. The main purpose of mindfulness is impartial self-discovery. The individual just watches their feelings, concepts, and reactions without making any comments.
Teaching the mind to be aware of being present at the moment is what the second step includes. Instead of trying to change outside events due to discontent, it is important to teach the mind to accept things as they are.
The third level emphasizes mental liberty. One of the more harmful kinds of clinging is to ideas, judgments, people, or objects. As our brains progressively get unburdened, we experience higher levels of attention, focus, creativity, and relaxation.
Meditation is a terrific approach to training and calming the mind, even though mindfulness may be done at any moment. The process is just to intentionally direct your attention to your ideas.
Everyday Mindfulness Meditation Practices
Every one of us has the seed of mindfulness. The practice is to cultivate it – Thich Nhat Hanh
Mindfulness Practice 1
Choose a comfortable position for yourself and begin by focusing on your breathing to help you get grounded. Then, pay attention to what is going on in your immediate surroundings, such as a baby crying or the lawnmower generating noise.
Never attempt to explain any of the ideas or sensations. Simply observe and let them be. As you pay attention to each feeling or thought, take three calm, deep breaths. Then, gradually reenter consciousness.
Mindfulness Practice 2
Concentrate on breathing, calling each inhale an inhalation and each exhales an exhalation (exhaling). Pay attention to how warm or chilly you feel as you breathe. Instead of attempting to regulate your breathing, simply pay attention to how your body breathes naturally. You could breathe quickly or slowly, shallowly or deeply. Observe your thoughts without judging or condemning them as they come and go. Refocus on your calm, deep breathing.
Mindfulness Practice 3
In contrast to breathing meditation, walking meditation focuses more on the environment when being done.
The wind, the sun, the rain, the feel of the grass beneath your feet, and other people are a few examples of what you could notice. Walk while practicing being conscious of your gait. You are not attempting to walk differently, slowly, or quickly; you are simply becoming more aware of how you walk. Consider how the air or wind feels against your skin as you walk and how your arms are moving in unison. Be conscious of your thoughts while you walk. How do you feel? What are you thinking about? Is your mind happy or depressed? Do you ever experience thoughts that are angry or resentful? Do you feel content and at peace? Observe each sensation or thought, then slowly come back to consciousness.
What Are the Benefits of Mindfulness?
But can mindfulness affect our bodies physically as well?
This topic has recently been the subject of some surprise study results. According to studies, among other things, mindfulness may have an impact on our immune systems, hearts, and brains.
One research randomly assigned pre-hypertension patients to attend either a course in mindfulness meditation or a program that included taught progressive muscle relaxation in addition to their medication therapy. Learning progressive muscle relaxation was not as effective at lowering systolic and diastolic blood pressure as learning mindfulness, which suggests that mindfulness may be able to lower blood pressure in people who are at risk for heart disease.
People usually lose some of their short-term memory and cognitive flexibility as they age. However, mindfulness training may even be able to slow cognitive decline in people who already have Alzheimer’s disease. Meditation may enhance attention, according to a 2017 research that looked at the brains of healthy older persons. Participants in this study ranged in age from 55 to 75, and they underwent either an eight-week practice of focused breathing meditation or a control exercise. The group was next given the Stroop test, which measures emotional control and attention, while electroencephalography was utilized to monitor their brain activity. Breath training resulted in significantly enhanced attention on the Stroop test and increased activity in an attention-related brain area compared to the active control group.
Patients with HIV or breast cancer who practiced mindfulness meditation had greater amounts or more active T-cells, according to numerous studies. This demonstrates that the fight against cancer and other immune-dependent diseases may be aided by mindfulness. In fact, a variety of signs that may point to disease progression in cancer patients appear to be improved by mindfulness.
It is important to remember that mindfulness affects both our physical and psychological health. It has been shown that adding mindfulness to addiction therapy can be beneficial because it helps patients better understand and control their urges, which may help them avoid relapsing once they have successfully weaned off of drugs or alcohol.
Mindfulness in Coaching
A sense of openness and accessibility within a coaching discourse is one of the most important aspects of becoming a coach. Making a client feel comfortable in the dialogue allows for tremendous learning, and it also helps the coachee feel at ease and develop their thinking.
Stress reduction, the capability to overcome self-limiting beliefs, increased attention, relaxation, and the ability to retain emotional control are some of the advantages of mindfulness for the coaching session.
The coaching dialogue is influenced by the following three degrees of mindfulness:
- A blank mind
- A non-judgmental mind
- An open mind
A coachee who is mentally empty is free from the internal chatter that so frequently detracts from the present and slows cognition. When the coachee’s thoughts are diverted by trivial thoughts, they are not completely present in the coaching dialogue. By showing up to the session unburdened by thoughts, you may as a coach demonstrates to your client that you respect them and are ready to hear them totally. It’s important to remember that our role as coaches is to guide our clients to the answers they need, not to give them advice. This means that in order to hear them and listen to them, we must be fully awake.
Using the client as a coach to evaluate them will only undermine trust and impede growth. The client needs to feel encouraged and unjudged by the coach. Coaches shouldn’t compromise their judgment for the sake of objectivity. Actually, mindfulness encourages better decision-making about what is important and what is not. To get the best results, the coachee is given the freedom to thoroughly explore their ideas by the coachee.
An open mind is one that is exposed to alternatives rather than focusing on the purported pitfalls of the current situation. It moves the debate away from pessimism and into one that is more interested in exploring the “what if” from the standpoint of novel possibilities. The coachee’s present circumstances should not be prioritized over the possibility of considerable future growth and outcomes.
We may transition swiftly between meetings or coaching sessions as coaches. Because we are more concerned with getting to the session on time or at the right place, we occasionally don’t give ourselves enough time to let go of the day’s cares, stresses, and concerns. Being aware is a way to put these expectations aside.
The second potential application is to help the coach stay focused and avoid daydreaming throughout the coaching session. Mindfulness exercises can improve focus and attention during two-hour coaching sessions when done in between sessions. The concept may be used in coaching sessions as well by continually directing the coachee’s focus back to the current work anytime the mind wanders.
Maintaining emotional distance is the third beneficial application. Being aware can assist us in maintaining control over our fluctuating moods and emotions throughout a coaching session. The capacity to be emotionally detached is essential for coaches. While the coach has to be aware of the emotions their coachee is experiencing, they shouldn’t let them overwhelm them to the point that they can’t help their coachee go ahead. Flooding occurs when a coach starts to cry after learning that their coachee has been sacked or when the coach overidentifies with their coachee’s situation to the point when they lash out at their boss or another adversary. The coach should make an effort to strike a balance between being able to sympathize with their coachee and at the same time offer constructive criticism in order to regulate these impulses.
Facts About Mindfulness
- Being mindful is not something we do on a regular basis. Being present doesn’t need us to change who we are since we are already capable of doing so. But we can hone these natural skills with a few simple strategies.
- You do not need to change. We have frequently failed to put into practice strategies that require us to change who we are or become someone or something we are not. Being attentive allows us to appreciate and nurture our greatest human abilities.
- Religious ideology has a byproduct which is meditation. Meditation has nothing to do with any certain religion. Westerners typically relate the practice to Buddhism and Hinduism. Aspiring meditators are free to hold any spiritual beliefs or affiliations. There is no conflict between meditation techniques and any type of religion or lack thereof.
- It’s doable by anyone. Nobody’s perspective needs to change in order to cultivate universal human values through mindfulness practice. It has benefits for everyone and learning it is easy.
- It is supported by data. Faith is not a prerequisite for mindfulness. Science and experience have proven that it has beneficial benefits on our health, happiness, job, and relationships.
Why Is Mindfulness Important?
The study found that everyone who made an effort to practice mindfulness would benefit from it. According to the research, mindfulness can enhance our coaching abilities and help us better handle stress, and be happier and more focused every day. In a coaching environment, mindfulness may support a client’s sense of comfort in the conversation, which opens the door to major learning and allows the coachee to expand their thinking.
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