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10 ideas for creating a still space in a frenetic world

These are tips for coaches and coach supervisors who wish to clear a little space and try out some mindfulness practice because a) you might have heard a bit about it (or a lot) and are curious to see or could enhance the sense of presence you bring into the coaching and coaching supervision space, but don't seem to find the time to commit big chunks of time or b) you know in your heart of hearts you need to need to find some stillness for you because the pace of life is fierce and it isn't getting any better doing what you are doing now. This is not about how to develop a formal mindfulness practice. It is about a taster to finding some stillness and space and try it out.

Tip 1 - DECIDE (mind set comes first)

By giving yourself some stillness, space and time you say you count. No lycra outfit needed! Notice any resistance that comes but don't listen. Just notice it but don't follow it. You know you need this space. Decide to make it happen.


Size up where you can take your take your mindfulness moment. Look for somewhere practical, where, as near as possible, you can avoid being disturbed by others and ideally you can use on a regular basis. Some people like total silence, for others not. What works best for you? In a busy café works for some, the loo for others when choices are really limited! Be determined to find somewhere, maybe even a couple of choices but find it first. This helps you have the determination to begin if you have a place to do it in.


As a coach the clock is a familiar companion. It is probably both friend and foe. Many coaches and supervisors are good organisers able to squeeze yet one more activity into an already full day. In the beginning setting a fixed time will give you confidence. This is a boundaried chunk of time and when the alarm sounds you can stop. Eventually you won't need it because you will know, intuitively, when the right time has elapsed. Don't worry because a strong left brain will always bring you back to the business at hand.


"Maitri" is a word that comes from the Buddhist practice of mindfulness and it means unconditional, non judgemental kindness we give to ourselves. It means we create a space where there is no right or wrong, good or bad, as we allow our mind to flow. For many people this is relief alone as often in our work there are continual reminders of a dualistic world where one may feel judged whether about performance, being good enough, accepted, or in other aspects. This is a breathing space where we suspend that busy brain.


We begin to learn the practice of observing without evaluating (including 'I'm not doing this right', or 'it's only 4 minutes and I am struggling', or 'why did say I would do this?'). Notice the thought and then using a metaphor of your choice: let it go. I especially like either treating it as a cloud and let the cloud float away, or as a train, stopping briefly at a station, then moves on. Try these or find one that works well for you. This is not about ignoring our thinking it is about creating a small oasis where we turn off the analysis to recharge. This is where we can get a sense of being fully present in a bigger and wider sense of who are beyond and separate from our thoughts.


A good beginner's exercise is to count to 100 with your 'in' breath through the nose as '1' and your 'out' breath, through the mouth, as '2' and so on. Every time a thought comes into your mind focus on your breathing and start over at 1. See how far you get at the end of a few minutes. Alternatively you cay try on in the 'in' breath 'I am arriving' and on the 'out' breath ' 'I am here'. Whatever you choose it is about keeping focus on the breath. The point is to keep your attention on your breathing and to push aside the thoughts that absolutely will butt in.


Regular practice is important as a way to anchor this as part of your busy schedule. This is an appointment with yourself that you keep. This helps to create a shift in how you look after yourself and it will show up in the presence you bring to your work. Ten minutes will not give you the depth that 45 minutes will. You know that – think of the gym: five minutes a day on an exercise bike is a good start but you will need more for real change. But don't underestimate establishing a consistent time for this activity as a place of renewal and refreshment and commitment.


There are opportunities around us all the time to improvise! Whether it is between meetings or catching a train. Look for the opportunity rather than miss a day out especially in the early stages. Don't let the fact you are away from the 'regular' place to stop you, The more comfortable you get with the process you will be more confident in practicing in different spaces if you have to. It is still ideal at the beginning to have a particular place to go to do as it adds consistency to regularity.


The positive effects of regular practice will carry over into the rest of your day. The longer you practice the greater sense of feeling more present in yourself, more able to accept life's ups and downs. Bringing a sense of presence as a coach or coach supervisor can take us to a deeper level of knowing in the work we do. Like a plumb line used to get a sense of what is 'true' so mindfulness can also give you an opportunity to reconnect with what is most important in you and who you are as you coach. This becomes a place of re-alignment with that vertical axis of energy and that, in a frenetic world, that can only be a bonus.


Psychologists say it takes 100 days to embed a new habit so this gets you started. You will need some commitment to have a go, so do a deal with yourself to set aside five minutes, twice a day 3 times a week for the first month, four times a week twice a day in month 2, increasing, if you can to ten minutes twice a day, in month 3, and a whopping 6 times a week in the fourth month. Let me know how you're doing!

Karyn Prentice 2010