People need to know that they have all the tools within themselves. Self-awareness, which means awareness of their body, awareness of their mental space, awareness of their relationships – not only with each other, but with life and the ecosystem.
Some coaches talk about motivational coaching while other coaches attend to behavioral change, and others offer a co-active approach. Integral Health Coaching relies heavily on awareness as a necessary step for motivating change. Key to changes in behavior and achieving optimal healing is building awareness. Briefly, we will look at how to build awareness with our clients and how to leverage behavioral change using awareness-building.
Individuals seeking coaches are looking for professional support for deep change in lifestyle and health habits. While it seems that a coach holding a client accountable provides the necessary ingredients for change, over time external accountability often does not provide lasting motivation. If we think of our behavior as resulting from our internal experiences partly informing the choices we make, both must both be engaged in an Integral coaching program.
In a previous blog, Four Ways of Being, Which One Are You? I discussed four different orientations–two of which are a person oriented toward their experience, while another may orient by doing, to name two of the four. Coaching methodologies to favor one of these four orientations. Some techniques focus simply on motivating by doing, while other methods pay close attention to how an individual feels or senses his or her experience. In an integral approach, we allow for both the doing and the feeling in our coaching process. Our coaching does ask for clients to make behavioral changes. To exercise, to eat differently, to learn about nutrition, to speak up for oneself, but this is only half of the work. The interior of these actions have to do with the experience of the client and require engagement.
Using the same examples, if your work is to exercise more, the integral coach asks you to attend to how you feel while exercising, or how does exercising affect the way you feel, or perhaps what feelings come up that interfere with your ability to choose to exercise. In terms of nutrition, how do the different foods you choose to eat affect they way you feel? How does the way you feel affect the foods you choose to eat. I know for me, I have many comfort foods and my choices drastically change based on what is going on for me emotionally. In terms of speaking up for oneself, what does it feel like in your body when you don’t speak up for yourself. How does saying what is important feel inside? This is the awareness that when coupled with behavioral changes supports deep change.
For example, if your work is to exercise more, the integral coach asks you to attend to how you feel while exercising, or how does exercising affect the way you feel, or perhaps what feelings come up that interfere with your ability to choose to exercise. In nutrition, how do the different foods you choose affect the way you feel? How does the way you feel affect the foods you choose to eat. I know for me, I have many comfort foods and my choices drastically change based on what is going on emotionally.
In terms of speaking up for oneself, how do you feel in your body, when you don’t speak up? What happens inside when yo do? Awareness coupled with the associated behavior helps integrate changes in attitude and choices.
We access this type of work through an awareness practice. In Integral Health Coaching, the cornerstone work for the client is the awareness practice. In an effort support deep change Integral Health coaches recommend an awareness practice to help build a new way, the way the client is seeking to access.
Let’s look more closely at Jim as an example. He is working on releasing long-held internal stories about being having ADD and chronic fibromyalgia. His goal is to become a conscientious professional leaving behind old somatic patterns that limit his potential for flourishing. Jim’s current practice is to be more able to sense and connect to others people’s beliefs and feelings while maintaining his balance. Perhaps a simple activity, Jim’s tendency is to adapt quickly to the feelings of others, he is very sensitive and picks up other’s feelings.
The awareness practice constructed for Jim ask that several times a week, when Jim finds himself in a in a social situation, he should pay attention to when he notices that he is adapting to another’s beliefs. When he notices, he assumes a physical Koan posture. (We work on the Koan posture during the session. It is a physical movement that allows him to check inside- without having to close his eyes and breath.) After several seconds in the Koan, Jim is to being to notice ” What are the stimuli that I am adapting to?” and “What do I notice in my gut? ” The attention here is to notice when he is adapting and making space to notice what is going on. This goal is not to change any behavior at this point, rather; it is to interrupt a pattern in gaining awareness. If he can do this, we can introduce another behavior, but for now Jim simple needs to become aware of what the reactive response feels like, when it happens, in what circumstances.
Jim journals about his experience each evening before bed, which will give him and opportunity to see himself in a way that he may not have seen before. Over time, he will be able to make a different choice as he notices his conditioned response. This awareness practice is helping Jim prepare for making a new choices for behaviors. It will be essential for him as a professional to be able to notice, connect and maintain inner equanimity. His sensitive to the feelings of others is useful this way.
Awareness practices form the cornerstone of the Integral Health Coaching method for motivating change. The blend of doing and feeling form a necessary coupling that greatly supports clients achieving the results they crave. Awareness is a necessary and powerful means for growing, ultimately allowing more freedom to live life fully and with greater health and fulfillment.