At a recent coaching session, my client turned up late. Having arrived, they immediately downloaded a lot of story. This, that, this, that. Fifteen minutes. I was overwhelmed by the speed and complexity of thought. Momentarily disabled by a wave of recounted experience, judgement and self questioning by my client.
My client has a map drawn on a piece of paper. We created it several sessions ago. It maps out their pattern of stuckness. The behaviours, thoughts, feelings, values which interconnect to create how they are.
I asked them to bring it out so that we might look at it again. We notice the pattern repeating in their story that began the session.
I then notice that there is a pattern in our coaching. We have been here before. We meet in the same room. My client, although not usually late, begins with a high octane cognitive download of what has been happening, their difficulties, their thinking and judgements of self. By the end of the session, they are calmer. They are more balanced and more present in what is true for them. Less in their busy head. Then they go out into the world and return a few weeks later so that this pattern can repeat, alongside their mapped pattern of being.
We have talked previously about mindfulness. My client has a book. They have attended some sessions with a qualified practitioner. My client accepts they are useful, but has found it hard to find the time in their busy world. Irony of ironies.
I tell my client we need to break the coaching pattern. So I offer the opportunity for them to practice their mindfulness now, without me. They look taken aback. I leave the room.
I return some minutes later. Already they are calmer. I invite them to walk with me. My client sets off out of the building at pace. I walk with them but slightly slower, drawing them back a little. I explain we are going to be mindful walking for just 30 seconds, then talk. Then mindful for thirty seconds, then talk.
We practice paying attention to the physical movement of limbs as we walk. Then we talk about the experience and its relationship to their pattern. Then we walk noticing how sound and light are around us. Then we talk about the experience and its relationship to their pattern. Then we walk noticing the sound of footsteps and explore correlation to heartbeat. My client puts their hand on their chest and calibrates. Then we talk about the experience and its relationship to their pattern. Walking the talk.
Throughout, my client walks more and more slowly. Bit by bit. Finally we pause and notice this.
Returning to the room to end the session, my client is completely different. Their experience as they reflect on the map, still on the table, is more deep, more profound, more embodied. They remain slow.
They have quietened their thinking. They have more awareness. They can see what needs to be done. They know they can achieve mindfulness in many ways in just a few moments. They discover motivation. And… they aren’t bombarding my senses with cognitive verbiage.
A top trumps victory on all fronts. Tortoise beats hare.