GIFTED | As you may remember if you read my very first couple of blog posts, 2019 is a new chapter for me. It’s all about making changes, being brave, forging a new path. And a focus on self, wellness and goals for the future have been a huge part of that.
With that in mind, the lovely Hannah Austin of The WellBeing Space offered me a wellness coaching session, to help me connect to the inner wisdom that is the source of our well-being. Her sessions utilise the practice of Zen Coaching, a one-to-one experience that is based on two key questions:
– ‘What is happening now?’
– ‘What do you long for?’
The idea is that these ultimate guiding questions allow you to explore the present moment and access inner resources like peace, trust, strength, joy & truth. And from these natural & powerful states, you gain the clarity to see what it is you truly long for in life, and how you’re going to get there!
It’s certainly a powerful – and intimidating – idea and as a newbie to this kind of thing, even the concept of it was tricky to get my head around! But I’ve become increasingly interested in practices such as these this year, as I’ve inched towards the recognition that my old ways of thinking and acting have been unhealthy, and that there ARE other ways. Where I previously scoffed and rejected, now I’m seeking out the mindful and open conversations and practices that I’ve come to realise I need.
Nonetheless, my fear of the unknown meant I was (of course!) anxious in the run up to our appointment. Hannah had been very helpful and kind in our communications beforehand, but because of the nature of the practice, it’s hard to describe what’s going to happen in an easily digestible soundbite.
In my efforts to know as much as I could, I’d scoured the websites testimonials and found that some of them really echoed my own feelings and experiences – the inner critic, the repercussions from childhood learned behaviours and the control these things have over my life. (And little did I know; these themes would emerge strongly later.) It was good to see others struggling with similar issues genuinely finding help through this kind of coaching.
Hannah was kind enough to visit me at home and, as I’d managed to banish the husband and children upstairs, we were able to settle in the living room in a space where I felt comfortable.
We started just by closing our eyes, and Hannah invited me to notice my breath as it flowed in and out; then afterwards, to notice different parts of my body in their stillness. After a few minutes, I opened my eyes and already felt in a different state. Whether it was simply relaxation or the meditative calm that comes with listening solely to another’s voice and following instructions, it certainly wasn’t a state I find myself in often (or ever?!)
Hannah asked me what I could feel, how I really felt in that moment. And despite its simplicity, for a second the question seemed difficult to answer. The idea of actively thinking about and feeling your body in a more conscious way, and how it linked directly to your state of mind, was new to me. Daily life often leads to a frenetic state, that doesn’t allow for these kinds of considered attentions.
I realised I felt still, with heavy grounded hands and a woozy, almost sleep-like (although I wasn’t tired) feeling in my head. Hannah asked me what had brought me to this point. I explained to her the events of last year and it served to remind me that, although I’ve come so far, I still don’t think I’ve fully come to terms with it all.
And I don’t really remember the specifics of what came next. We must have moved onto the second key question of zen coaching (‘What do you long for?’), but it flowed instinctively then.
Despite having never met, it felt natural to start to confide in Hannah. It was empowering to talk with no fear of judgement or consequence, and incredibly validating to speak and truly be heard. So many people seem to half listen through the filter of their own agenda (myself included sometimes), but not so with Hannah. She took my ramblings, understood them and presented them back with clarity.
Hearing somebody repeat back to me the root of my feelings and the truth behind my words was at first unnerving, then comforting, and ultimately powerful. It helped give credence to those feelings, gave them life outside my head, made them a reality that I had the ability to confront.
There were emotional highs and lows during the session, but we always seemed to be moving forwards, almost like I was being subconsciously led to some kind of personal epiphany. And importantly, I always felt in safe hands – I was always supported, never left alone in a place of vulnerability.
As we reached the end of the session, I felt positive. That ultimately, I’m going in the right direction and that, if I listen to and trust in myself, I truly am capable of something amazing, whatever that something is. And isn’t that the kind of liberating self-belief that we’re all searching for?
I highly recommend Hannah as a coach at The WellBeing Space. She is not a psychiatrist or therapist – and that is not what this process is about. It’s more spiritual, more authentic, than that. In this frantic, money and technology driven world, we are swiftly losing our ability to look within and be aware of our own driving forces and passions, instead of the ones we’re told should drive us by others. The key to our own happiness and success is found within, but we need to know where – and how – to look.
*My coaching session was gifted, but all opinions are my own.*