My self-coaching journey – second session

Almost a month ago I started this self-coaching journey, I am in a phase of my life where I feel I need to re-valuate and re-consider the direction I’ve been taking with my life and this type of journey is far from being easy or straightforward and these first steps are taking longer than I expected  landing me temporarily in an even more confused situation than before without a clear sense of my direction and with doubts appearing along the way about what I am doing and its relevance for my ultimate goal of living a meaningful and happier life.

The possible self-coaching process I envisioned for this personal journey was going to go through an ideal set of steps: during the first session, I was going to assess my current situation “my here and now” using the “Wheel of Life” with the underlying vague sense of my ultimate goal as a compass for the process during this preliminary phase, then in time for my second self-coaching session I planned to have investigated the values, beliefs and aspirations (needs, wants and wishes) which are the foundations, the borders and the background of my life and for my goal. By the third session, possibly by the end of the second month of this journey,  I thought I would have defined an action plan, following the clarification of my Goal possibly using a SMART approach during the second session, which would have implied an in-depth revision of the Specific goal (who would have been involved, what I wanted to accomplish, where it would have taken place, why I was doing it, what would have been the constraints/requirements that needed to be considered), the necessary Measures of my progress and ultimately my success, its practical Achievability and its Relevance or its being Realistic  in relation to my needs and my personal situation, the Timeframe within which I could have realistically achieved my goal. Along the way, I thought I would take time to assess my level of success to make adjustments where necessary and, if necessary, considered some support systems to use in the moments of doubts or difficulties that I could have used also after the coaching process was completed. I also expected that I needed to do lot of work in between session to be able to progress to the next stage.

In reality, I reached my second session without having fully completed the homework I had give myself and with still quite  a confused picture so not ready to work on the specific aspects of my Goal.  This does not mean that the self-coaching process is or would not be effective, but it only highlight a need for continuous adjustments to fit the reality of life. I believe that this process is effective because it provides practical tools and directions instead of generic guidelines or principles, but that is also effective only as long as I trust the process and myself, I am fully honest with myself about what I want to achieve and the commitments I can realistically make and I am really engaged.  In fact, I believe that the effectiveness of any process to change my life will depend on me, not on my coaches, therapists, mentors or even doctors, because there is not perfect solution that can fit everybody’s life and condition and nobody else other than me can have the solutions for my life or hold the Truth about my own life.

This  self-coaching process is far from being  an easy quick fix  and at time, it can even feel awkward, confusing and hard because it might make us face situations that needs healing. I see  any coaching process as a healing process, because I believe that if we feel that we need to change something in our life it is because something in our life is not in harmony with our deeper self needs and values. On the surface, it might look like that we “simply” feel stuck, mildly dissatisfied or demotivated at work or in our personal life but these feelings very often are the symptoms that something deeper is not ok for us and needs to be brought out in the light and healed.

During the last weeks I have been working on my values along with the beliefs that are holding me back from living the life I desire, investigating what is missing from my life, what I need, what I want and what I desire and especially the false desires, wants and wishes that do not really belong to me but to convictions and ideas I inherited and made mine but only on the surface from my family, my education, the society. I started questioning the nature of the subtle fear that clouds and have clouded many of my choices and prevented me from taking the risk to live the life I desire. This investigation is not a one time reflection, I sat several times reflecting on all this, but more importantly I left my heart and mind open to reflect on this anytime that something inspired me some further, deeper reflections. I sat for sometime with all the questions that emerged as a result of these reflections without even trying to answer them for a while, but simply making them to myself and let them lead my thoughts to possible new avenues that I had not even know before. It is a long process and it is far from being completed, I will continue for a little while longer to work on this investigation before I proceed to the next phase of this journey, but during this period, I realised some important things for me:

– That there is no magic or simple solution for me in the near future, but I don’t need to despair because it is ok to take the time I need, because nothing of what I’ve been learning and did in the past is either wasted or useless but it is what has brought me here to this point of my life and even if some of the practice I’m doing might feel ineffective or confuse me, everything will become clear eventually, when the time is correct.

– That this is a life journey, that happiness needs our constant presence and awareness about who we are, where we are going and what we want so that  we are ready for the changes that happens all the time in life;

– That I need to take the time to re-learn about my priorities, what is really important for me and the reasons behind my choices and even challenge some perceptions I have about myself and my level of unhappiness;

– That even though the big solution is not possible in the next months there are actions and projects I can put in place that not only can bring me closer to my big goal but can also make the present life happier and more fulfilling, because while being able to have project for the future is fundamental, living our best possible present with what we have right now is as fundamental and might be the only thing we have.;

– That is ok to take it slow and enjoy the life and the world around me while I move forward, that I don’t need to rush anywhere or into anything because in reality nothing counts more than this moment I’m living now so I need to trust that whatever the next moment will bring while I cannot control it I can manage it as I did in the past;

– That if I before doing something I ask myself the question “what would I do in this situation if others’ opinion did not exist”, I can in those moments maybe behave differently and more freely from what I did in the past, letting the fear of others’ opinion cloud my ability to choose the best path for myself and stopping me from enjoying simple pleasures.

So my next step is to continue to work on the big picture, keeping my mind and heart open to the inspiration that can emerge from my life and the practices that are now part of my life:

– Meditating and journaling almost daily to manage my feelings and thoughts

– Drawing mandalas and continue to publish one drawing and a post at least once a week,

– Have a weekly virtual meeting with myself to assess my progress and define possible action to continue to move forward.

– Have another self-coaching session in a month time.

While this might look like a big list, in reality it requires approximately less than one hour a day for the daily task and possibly another hour a day to complete the other weekly tasks and  that is a realistic commitment for the next month.

Twenty-second Mandala – A black and White Mandala

Twenty-second Mandala – A black and White Mandala

 

Black and white demands courage and a certain degree of self-confidence.

It demands trust in my still beginner’s ability to draw confident lines, to connect the dots without too much arrogance or too timidly with control and concentration.

It demands trust that I can choose the right lines, to draw the right shapes that combined together create a harmonious picture, that I can create the right balance of blackness and whiteness that the picture does not feel empty, but that I can stop in time with the marker that the shapes are not lost in a single black circle.

It demands trust that I can use the right line, the right depth, because not all mistakes and uncertainties can be easily covered by a change of design or direction or by a simple eraser.

Black and white demands courage to let myself go with the flow and trust my intuition and my shaky and beginner hand to find the right balance, trust my awareness to recognise the right time to stop or to continue with my marker.

After few months of this Mandala project, I realise that my lines are now more confident, the patterns are becoming in some way richer and as it happens with other creative activities, the more I practice them the more ideas and image come to me of what I could do.

A creative process requires the courage to be in front of an empty page and believe that I can create something to fill that the page with words or lines, to be in front of a handful of small crystals and trust that I can create a harmonious combination with all those small separate parts and in this way give life to something that was not there before not even in my own mind.

Like with this Mandala, very rarely I know where I’m heading when I start drawing and  even when I have a preliminary idea the final picture is always a surprise full of ideas to reflect on.

Mandala - 22 - A Black and White Mandala

What I am learning thanks to this project but also from various courses I’ve been attending in life coaching, mindfulness and Buddhism is that as I can cultivate my awareness and my lovingkindness, I can cultivate my Faith and my Creativity and therefore that some limits that I believed as given and impossible for me to surpass in reality they can be surpassed with practice and an open-mind. That, yes that there is lots of people that is born with very special talents above everybody else, but even if I was not born with any special talent or passion, I can still choose to cultivate my own set of gifts and regardless if I can become at any stage a recognised writers or artist or earn any sort of income from my efforts, continuing to cultivate these gifts has a worth in itself completely separated from any utilitarianism concept, it is part of my path and it has nothing to do with gaining any success but  with my realisation of my potential as a person. For this reason, I will keep drawing these mandalas regardless if anybody else likes them or if they look like a mediocre attempt of a beginner, I will keep writing my thoughts regardless if anybody likes or shares them or if they are grammatically incorrect or sound silly, because these practices are feeding a need inside me for creating something and they are my way in this phase of my life to embrace my vulnerability and to risk “looking like a fool for the adventure of being alive”,

 

“I want to know if you will risk looking like a fool for love, for your dream, for the adventure of being alive.” (From the Invitation of Oriah Mountain Dreamer)

Twenty-first Mandala – A daring Mandala

A daring Mandala: a glimpse beyond my usual territories, playing carelessly with new tools and bolder colours.

“Life Energy,

Beauty and Thorns,

Perfect symmetries and asymmetrical imperfections,

Through thick layers the light still softly shines for ever daring.”

Mandala - 21

I’m working on this personal life coaching project using the Invitation by Oriah Mountain Dreamer for guidance, as a map to navigate ab uncharted territory.

As first step I’m working with a beautifully challenging question that I’m using for reflection on my life and on the direction I will eventually decide to follow. The question is: “What I Ache For?”.

I have been playing with this question for few days, in my notes, in my mandalas and also plainly in my ordinary thinking. – I love asking myself questions more than trying to answer them. –

The first answers that came to mind are that I long for connection, intimacy with my life and the people and the world around me, for engagement and commitment, for challenges that bring me to be a positive and an active part of the community, to help others and, at the same time, sometimes I fiercely long for solitude, for anonymity and nothingness. These two opposite longings are keeping me stuck where I am and I think I need to investigate them farther, to look for the one that is real true for me before I try to get into the details of how I can translate any of them in practical day to day living.

When we start asking ourselves certain questions, it is important to continue asking, to go deeper. If we stop at the first answer, we take the risk to stay on the surface and we might never uncover the deep honest motivation that could really give us strengths and conviction to make the radical changes in our life we might need to do. In this process of deepening investigation, other beautifully simple but powerful questions can be “What else?”, “What will it gives me?”.

Recently, the suggestion to bring to my mind somebody that loves or loved me unconditionally  in a guided meditation (Heartscape- Lovingkindess – Guided Mindfulness Meditation, Series 3 – Jon Kabat-Zinn) opened up my mind to a series of questions and reflections that gave some direction to the self-investigation I was doing about my deepest longing. I started asking myself first who could be these persons and then why I found so difficult to pick somebody that I believed loves or loved me unconditionally. I used the word believed because, while, rationally, I think I have and I had people in my life that loves and loved me unconditionally , the big issue for me lies in my beliefs or lack of faith that I would be worthy of such type of love. I started wonder if this fear of being discovered not worthy of love then be at the foundation of my longing for solitude, anonymity and nothingness? If one of my longing is born out of fear, is it then an honest and true longing?

Then I started asking myself new more complicated questions like:

What would happen in my life if I dare to have faith that I can be loved, if I dare to have faith that I am loved and accepted as I am right now?

Can I let, or better, make myself be vulnerable and take the risk to deeply connect with the people in my life? To fully have faith in them knowing that our relationship will change, that I will lose them as I know them now, because life is impermanent and nothing stand still forever and change is inevitable?

Do I dare to have faith in myself to be courageous and open my heart and my life to joy and the suffering that will come from losing someday who I fully allowed in my heart and life?

And if I don’t take the risk of being fully committed and have faith, knowing that it is a risk that will eventually become a reality, does all the work I’m doing on myself to be a better me like coaching, meditation, drawing, writing make any sense? Or would all just become another more colourful and complicated attempt to numb, distract and to not feel?

If I don’t choose the path of courage, vulnerability and the pain that will come with them, what hope do I have that meditation can heal my deepest subtle anxieties and the depression that always shows up eventually? What hope do I have to experience and know real happiness?

And finally, does living a half-life controlled by fear and anxiety really protect me from suffering? Or would it only mean that I choose suffering without experiencing real deep positive emotions because it is impossible to lose something you never had from the start?

It is very uncomfortable and emotional experience to question one’s deepest beliefs and convictions. I started to experience lots of resistance from the part of me that is very comfortable within the familiarity of my old but tight and thick walls, even if these walls are causing me incredible suffering at times. Doubts are strong. I started to experience emotional turmoil, because nobody can tell me for sure what are the right decisions or directions, because it is an unchartered path and there are no instructions or certainties and because nobody can reassure me that is not my anxiety or my “tricky” mind talking and bringing me towards a breakdown instead of a meaningful path.

I am continuing my exploration, once we start certain adventures there is now way back, we can only continue to create our life with each single efforts, which is our most creative actions because nobody else can understand, live it or shape our life for us. I found this quote some time ago and I find it very inspiring: “I will not follow where the path may lead, but I will go where there is no path, and I will leave a trail.” – Muriel Strode

The Invitation Mandala is in the early phase, there is still so much to uncover.

The Invitation - Mandala

The Invitation Mandala: a self-coaching journey – First Session.

This is the start of a journey, my first step in a self-coaching journey. I will use for map to navigate the unknown sea a book called “The Invitation” by Oriah Mountain Dreamer (http://oriahmountaindreamer.com/). Each paragraph of the poem in the book inspired questions that I will use to reflect and to move forward in this journey while completing a Mandala about it.
My goal is unclear, my purpose is blurred and the frustration and discontent of the last months, possibly years, find their roots in the unmet needs, wants and desires that have not found yet a clear description, which had no voice for too long, in a Life purpose that have not definition at the conscious level but it is very much alive and restless at the subconscious level.
Any journey that hopes to have some degree of success and to reach a safe harbour somewhere needs to start from making an inventory of what you need to bring in the journey, what support you need to have and most importantly from where you will depart. For this reason, my first step was to draw my personal Wheel of Life and identify the aspects of my life that I believe are important to me right now, not what I think they should be or what I would like them to be, or what I think others would think appropriate, but what they are for me in the present moment. Once I choose my headings, the next step was to reflect on them and score my level of satisfaction for each of them and to link the dots. The final steps were to take a step back and look at the “Wheel” that emerge and reflect on the picture of my life that resulted, the bumps and the deep dives.
Once I have clear my starting point, before to clarify my goal, I need to clarify what is that I profoundly long for, “I want to know what you ache for, and if you dare to dream of meeting your heart’s longing.” (From the Invitation). This is the first question I will reflect on. I will sit with the question without rushing into answering, letting the message sink in deeply. And as suggested in the book, I will then play writing sentence that start with: I need…, I want and I desire.
In few words, for this first coaching session, I will use the Wheel of Life to assess the here and now, my starting point, then I will reflect on my values and then I will work on identifying my needs, wants and desires so that I hope I can start delimiting my goal.
At the end of this Journey I hope to have completed a Mandala that I’m naming the Invitation Mandala, where the most external circle represents the first questions I wish to work on: What do I ache for? What is my heart’s desire?

The Wheel of Life
The Invitation Mandala- the first stage.

Seventeenth Mandala – My Wheel of Life

Seventeenth Mandala – My Wheel of Life

My Wheel of Life Mandala – The beginning of a new self-coaching journey.

The inspiration behind this Mandala is the coaching tool the wheel of life, it is a freely representation of the wheel of life that I’m going to use for the first step on a new self-coaching Journey I’m going to start. I will use this wheel to assess my “here and now” before to engage in any kind of investigation around my goals. I divided the wheel in all the aspects of my life that are important to me.

I will use my first Wheel of Life for my reflections and enquiry.

I will then use an adapted version of the standard Wheel of Life as a working sheet before finalising this process. And, finally,  to close this first coaching step, I will use the result form this self-enquiry to complete my second Wheel of Life Mandala which has not headings or clear segments at this stage because they might be different as a result of my reflections and self-enquiry.

I’m starting this self-coaching journey with a travel companion that will engage in a similar personal journey of self-discovery and transformation. Maybe we will find more travel companion along the way.

My Wheel of  Life Mandala:

Mandala - 17

The Wheel of Life – working sheet.

Mandala -17 (Companion)

My Wheel of  Life Mandala- 2:

Mandala - 17.2