In this blog I will outline some practical benefits of mindfulness for coaches and those using a coaching approach at work (with staff, clients etc).
What is mindfulness?
Let’s start with a definition of mindfulness. It is the practice of being aware of one’s experience in the present moment. So often in life we ‘live’ in our thoughts, recreating or imagining scenarios and narratives – effectively focusing on our past or fantasising about our future.
Although these thoughts are very useful in some situations, such as planning or problem solving, they also take us away from a genuine experience that is happening right now. It is the mental equivalent of watching a video clip when we could be experiencing the world around us.
By practicing various techniques and deciding to focus our attention on the present moment, we can begin to gain a more balanced state of mind and a greater awareness of our environment.
The benefits of mindfulness
One key benefit of mindfulness practice is it can make one a much better listener. In order to listen effectively, it is important to be able to be fully present, so that the ‘talker’ has a genuine sense they are being attended to. It is important not to confuse this with agreeing with them; a coach is able to listen without necessarily agreeing or disagreeing, but instead takes a stance of curiosity about how the talker perceives the situation.
Mindfulness can also bestow charisma. The words present and presence are similar for a reason. A charismatic individual has a sense of genuine connection to others – i.e. presence. This can be learnt by practicing to be present, to concentrate one’s attention on the other person and their state, moment by moment.
Cognitive Behaviour therapy and mindfulness
CBT, or Cognitive Behavior Therapy, is often now taught in conjunction with mindfulness, helping people learn to be observers of their thoughts, rather than being controlled by them.
CBT and NLP both talk of destructive thought patterns. Mindful practice enables you to look inside yourself and spot these patterns at work, and give yourself a choice to pursue other, more constructive paths of thought. Coaches can teach clients these patterns – and use them in their own lives, too.
Stress management uses techniques to ‘switch off’ our adrenalin system called the ‘relaxation response’.
Mindfulness is one such proven way of doing this, helping us rest and recuperate – and even be more happy!
Great coaches are present, a model of calm and great listeners. So are influential people.
Try it yourself: Robbie’s mindfulness breathing exercise
Try this: count silently from 1 to 10 after each out breath: breath in, then breath out: count 1; in and out: 2 and so forth.
Once you reach 10 return to 1 and continue. You can try a variation of this by counting just before the in-breath using the same pattern. Once you are sufficiently relaxed, just focus on your breathing and cease the counting.