At the closing of a recent meeting with my coaching mentor, she spoke out loud something I’ve thought for a while–that coaching is a spiritual practice. I sat and breathed that in. Yes, coaching is a spiritual practice.
What do I mean by a “spiritual practice”? To be clear, I do not call myself a spiritual coach. There are excellent coaches who coach around people’s faith, religious trauma, and crises of faith. Rather, I help people live and lead with purpose and joy.
A spiritual practice is one in which we connect with another person at an essential level…that is, the essence of that person and the space between us. I think of this type of connection as a deep and resonant sharing of those things that matter most to another person.
Whether we’re talking about time management, energy management, leadership skills, reclaiming dignity after harm, conflict at work or home, emotional exhaustion, or strategies for finding joy, we connect over the most important things in life. And here’s the thing…as a coach, my own agenda, solutions, and problems fall away.
As I write this, I realize that I cannot adequately describe what happens in a coaching session, the feeling of being separate from the self and completely connected with another person.
Spirituality is recognizing and celebrating that we are all inextricably connected to each other by a power greater than all of us, and that our connection to that power and to one another is grounded in love and compassion.
MBrené Brown, The Gifts of Imperfection
So how does this happen? I suppose this happens when someone makes a decision to show up as their messy, scared, overwhelmed, curious self. When someone trusts another person with their deepest wishes. When someone commits to being better tomorrow than they are today and decides that the work is worth it. When they begin to believe–if only a little–that they are worth it.
Sundays have always been different from other days. When I was a child, Sundays were reserved for family and church and quiet time. Although I at the time wished I could have been playing with friends, I see now that the stillness and the quiet were a necessary part of connecting with the deeper parts of life, with what really mattered. My father didn’t go to work on Sundays and would take me and my sister sledding or skating or hiking. He would play the piano while I sang or played my clarinet. These were the songs his mother and father had taught him. His devoting this time to our family was deeply meaningful to us. I know that I was fortunate to have a father like this. (He hasn’t changed.)
My children are out of the house now. I don’t consider meeting with clients to be labor. Yes, it’s my work, my vocation in the truest sense, but it’s also a profound experience of meeting people where they are and walking beside them as they create the kind of life they want.
What is essential to you? Have you had the experience of deeply connecting with another person? Do you have someone who can hold your truest self in stillness?