If you have worked with me or spent some time reading this blog, you might have already noticed I have a unique approach to coaching. As Covid-19 spreads throughout the United States, I see a rush to create what comes next. While I too will keep working on supporting you as you change careers or grow in a more fulfilling position, I also feel the need to acknowledge the complex and sometimes painful feelings arising in me at this very moment.
The importance of staying present
People are dying of Covid-19 all over the world, and in the United States we will see infections and related deaths increase in the next weeks: already medical professionals are risking their lives without proper protective gear, hospitals are underresourced and there is no real social safety net for the millions who need or will need help because of the effects on the economy.
There is a tendency in the coaching world to only focus on the light, to cater to those who are already successful, and to avoid staying with the suffering of people. When that happens, coaching becomes a tool of denial, a way to suppress our feelings, a strategy to detach from what is really going on. But we can only create a better future by being rooted in our present experience, not by running away.
It's long been my observation that every human being is already in some way feeling their calling and living their Purpose. You might not know what it is, you might not be able to put your finger on it, but that thing that is nagging you, that wants you to do something more with your life...that is your Purpose calling you. It won't stop until you fully embrace it.
How I Found my Purpose
I awoke to my Purpose a few years go. It happened in a coaching group. We were asked to pair with someone in the group and to look into their eyes for a really long time. As I looked around for a partner, this guy looked at me to pair up with me. He was the one person in the group I found a little creepy - and definitely someone I would have never in a million years wanted to spend time gazing at! But it all happened so fast and it would have been so weird to decline, that I went ahead and sat in front of him.
The coach invited us to look in each other's eyes and we did. I remember his eyes were blue. He smiled. It was really uncomfortable, I still felt that he was creepy. But there we were, and we had to look into each other's eyes. And after what felt like a really long time, something deep was moved inside of me. I felt my judgement of him, my impression of who he was, dissolve. And I felt tears coming to my eyes. In that moment, it was as if everything around me collapsed and there was no separation between my deepest being and his, no separation between my deepest being and everything else.
I understood then that my intellectual belief that we are all One was not a belief at all, but the reality of everything. When the coach asked us to thank our partner, I was changed forever.
I don't remember what my partner's name was, and I never got to know him. But after my awakening, I knew without a doubt that there was something deeper and bigger than our individual selves. Oneness.
I would have never awoken to this inner knowing had I refused to look deeply into what made me uncomfortable, if I had turned away from what was difficult. Staying with what was, as it unfolded, made it possible for me to recognize my Purpose: creating, inviting, opening up to the reality of Oneness in everything I do.
A Spiritual Passage
Millions of people are losing their jobs and their financial stability, and small businesses, including my own, are in danger of disappearing. In the United States, there is little help for those who need it the most. Republicans in Congress want to give less money to the people who made the least in the past 2 years.
I feel called to acknowledge how this suffering is in my heart, and how uncertain these times feel. Now is the time to look forward and envision what we want to do next and it is the time to stay present. To embrace all human beings. To look into the suffering of others and not turn away to retreat into our individual survival if we are more privileged.
Last week I went back to one of my favorite books, Dark Nights of the Soul by Thomas Moore. It's a book about those times when life is hard and about truly living through what is happening as a spiritual rite of passage. One quote stuck with me as I was rereading it:
The most precious gift of your dark night might be the sheer edge and heft of your soul, your presence as a person of real substance."
I feel my soul strongly these days, I feel its weight, and I feel it edging to say more. I feel it calling me to have more substance in all I do, to be more present, to show more courage, to be more aware, to remember those we fail to acknowledge, to mention grief, to express empathy, to have heart.
This is not a time to suppress our very human emotions. This is not a time to ask simple coaching questions, to look for easy answers. Sometimes learning is joyous and easy and (en)lightening. Some other times the only way forward is through the courage to feel our grief, sadness, compassion and anger.
Sometimes things are so big and complex, we need to come together to feel and share and be witnesses to each other's experiences. We might need to stay with the inquiry a little longer, we might need to admit that we don't yet have answers, we might need to feel our calling as it gets louder and louder.
For the time being, I am going to host online gatherings at least twice a month. Alongside hosting mini workshops and panel discussion events, I will also host a special kind of gathering, inspired by facilitation practices designed to break down traditional power structures and rebuild a more equitable way of relating and connecting.
I invite you to join me in entering the liminal space we are living in, this time that is between what came before, and what is yet to be created. The invitation is for you to share yourself authentically and for us to collectively call forth what we envision for the future.