At the beginning of every class and every coaching series, I ask the same question:
“What brought you here?”
I want to know what was going through someone’s mind when they hit the “Pay and Register” button. What were they hoping to find sitting across the room from me? How did they think I could help them?
People often come to me because they want to start a project and don’t know where to begin, or because they are in the middle of something and have lost their way. Or they’ve had a long hiatus from work and are having trouble finding an entry point.
Everyone wants to get working again.
It usually takes us a while to peel away the layers of judgment about what we are not doing and arrive at what we truly need, which is usually the opposite of what we think we need.
Last week a client came to me wanting to develop the discipline I had for practice and work.
She had tried to start a meditation practice on her own, but failed. She tried writing practice, but she preferred writing at her computer.
We talked in circles for a while until it dawned on me that I had no idea what would motivate her to sit down on a meditation cushion or open a notebook. I only knew what got me there regularly.
“I’ll tell you a secret,” I said. “I don’t do any of those things out of discipline. I do them because I love them and because they make my life more manageable.”
Meditation, writing practice, and yoga nidra release me from the tyranny of my mind and the constant pressure I put on myself to produce.
These practices point to my deepest desire, the reason I chose writing over academia: freedom of heart and mind.
At the end of the session I came up with four questions for her to sit with. I share them with you, because I think they are useful. Don’t try to answer them. Sit with them, walk with them, and let them go. Let the answers come in their own time and in their own way.
What practices would support your work and life?
For example, if you’re like me and sitting zazen every morning is impractical because of family and or health, try a guided meditation on the Insight App (Tara Brach’s are good) or practice yoga nidra (I recommend Bold Tranquility’s offerings.)
What simple structures would help you organize your days?
In addition to morning practice, I’ve recently discovered the Pomodoro method, which rotates twenty-five minute work periods with five minute breaks. After lunch, whether I’m tired or not, I lie down for a yoga nidra nap. This is a good model, but what would work for you?
What one small action could you take to move forward with your project?
If you get stuck with this one, try this old exercise I learned from one of Julia Cameron’s books:
Make a list of five small actions that would advance your project. And when I say small, I mean miniscule. Circle the one with the most juice, and do that.
What kind of support do you need from others?
Do you need a babysitter? An accountability partner? Do you need your significant other to give you some space? Speak up and ask for what you want.
It has taken me years to realize I do not have answers for my clients. I can only help formulate good questions and create, time, space and a little solitude for the answers to emerge.
At the end of our day together –a Recharge Day at Sol Healing and Wellness that included time in our co-working space and a massage — the client who came looking for discipline realized she needed deep rest, i.e. restorative practices rather than trying to whip herself into shape.
A day away from our regular routine, unplugged from the news and social media, works magic.
The Recharge program is full for the summer, but we’re opening up a few spots again in late August/early September, when the kiddos go back to school. Let me know if you want me to hold a place for you.