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Holding the Space i...
 

Holding the Space in Transpersonal Coaching  

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(@ronanrooney)
Active Member
Joined: 12 months ago
Posts: 3
13/12/2018 7:53 pm  

In discussing the value and technique of holding the space in coaching I aim to concentrate on Transpersonal coaching and thereafter having explored the concept then specifically focus on Transpersonal coaching for burnout and spiritual emergencies or awakenings.

The Oxford dictionary (2018) describes transpersonal as, "Denoting to states or areas of consciousness beyond the limits of personal identity".

In the context of Transpersonal Coaching the concept and practice of ‘holding the space’ is paramount. The value of same cannot be underestimated. It is more than an integral aspect of Transpersonal Coaching it is the underlying platform supporting the entire process.

Coaching, leadership, education and spiritual practices empower the individual to access and bring forth their greatest self but can be influenced by the power of the ego conscious conditioned mind. Transpersonal perspectives go beyond the ego conscious which is affected by past conditioning external to our true essence.

Transpersonal Coaching involves facilitating shifts in the client’s perspectives by going beyond the client’s normal state of consciousness. Walsh and Vaughan (1980) suggest that each state of consciousness reveals its own picture of reality, which in turn makes one's perception of reality only relatively real, therefore one's perception of reality is a reflection of one's state of consciousness. What one identifies depends largely on the state of consciousness in which the mind or self are observed. Consequently, the Transpersonal coach has the ability to help the client to change their reality and change their world.

This echoes the overarching idea in quantum theory that reality is observer created, or as it was stated by Anaïs Nin, (1961) we don't see things as they are, we see things as we are. The ultimate essence is an understanding by the client that they are in control of and are creating their world and by using transpersonal methods can identify their perfect world and create same. As Taylor 2010 citing Kant pointed out.

“Our view of reality is not the absolute truth but a vision which is relative to us and moulded by our particular kind of psyche. This is similar to what the German philosopher Kant suggested; that our awareness of reality is filtered through the structures with which we perceive it. Our mind does not just observe reality, it co-creates it.”

The role of the transpersonal coach is to create and hold a safe space leading the client beyond their restricted tunnel awareness “a limited perception of oneself as separate from everyone and everything else in life, which in turn leads us to behave destructively towards ourselves, others and our environment.” (Dangeli 2018, p.108)

It also involves “intuitive resonance and rapport, a participatory perspective, mindfulness, an accepting and compassionate attitude, and a shift in both practitioner and client from a narrow to an expanded state.” (Dangeli, 2018, p. 42).

The coaching process can lead people to awakening and subsequent transformation by facilitating a shift in the clients perspective to overcome problems. Scharmer (2016, p.4) describes the results of such a shift as “a heightened level of individual energy sand awareness, a sustained deepening of one’s authenticity and personal presence, and a clarified sense of direction, as well as significant professional and personal accomplishments. ”

Paramount in the transformation is the shift in the clients perspective which can only be really completed by expanding their awareness and state of consciousness beyond the conditioned Ego using transpersonal methods.

A pre-requisite is that the coach have themselves experienced the transpersonal. A Transpersonal coach cannot authentically coach a client in the transpersonal without having a knowledge of the process and experiences of the transpersonal itself. Stork (2018, p.89) asserts that “we can at least agree a transpersonal approach to coaching is going to begin with the assumption that the human self is capable of states which can transcend beyond normal states of functioning and experiencing the world.” Bearing this in mind it is quite clear that the coach must have experienced themselves of transpersonal states.

I believe that the ultimate ingredient of coaching beyond which everything takes its rightful form and shape is the ability of the coach to create what is described in this essay title as ‘Holding the Space’.

More specifically, holding space in the transpersonal coaching relationship includes tuning in to establishing an open state of conscious awareness, otherwise known as open awareness Dängeli (2018). Open Awareness is a calm and receptive state of applied mindful awareness with aspects of introspective, extrospective and somatic awareness, accompanied by a sense of interconnectedness, compassion and a presence in the space-in-between (Dängeli, 2015; as cited in Dängeli 2018). Dängeli, J. (2018). 

To further extrapolate from this, the ‘holding the space’ refers to what I believe to be a two-part interrelated process. The first part involves the art of creating a safe and encouraging platform for the client to feel comfortable to tread new pathways and explore aspects of themselves in open awareness from a transpersonal perspective.

Creating the space is described by Dängeli (2017, p.36) as “a liminal space that is open, receptive and emergent and that promotes transpersonal knowing” can be achieved predominantly by the coaches pure intention to present the platform to create the space.

The second part involves maintaining the safe space and open awareness, Open Awareness is a calm and receptive state of applied mindful awareness with aspects of introspective, extrospective and somatic awareness, accompanied by a sense of interconnectedness, compassion and a presence in the space-in-between (Dängeli, 2015; as cited in Dängeli 2018).

Once the space is created the second part the coaches’ ability to maintain Open Awareness for the purpose of “Holding the Liminal Space” in which the client’s process can unfold. (Dängeli, 2018) can be challenging and requires intuitive non-invasive action by way of probing and encouraging the client to evolve through the process unfolding in confidence and with the reassurance of the underlying safe space already held.    This is achieved as described by Dängeli, 2018), “the client through a transformative passage of questioning and expansion, while helping the client to reintegrate new, widened and resourceful perspectives into their lives” (Dängeli, 2018).

Intuition is very important and a coach who is highly intuitive can ensure that the pace of the process of unfolding for the client does not over accelerate over and above what is right for the client and does not gather a momentum that is beyond the clients ability to process.

I believe that the quality of the coaches ability to keep their own ego and personal impressions and beliefs out of the space will determine the success of the journey for the client. There can be a tendency in coaching as per the universal law of attraction for coaches to attract clients with similar challenges and experiences to themselves. The temptation is to succumb to the Ego in bringing the coaches perspectives into the coaching session thus distorting the authenticity of the clients process. Awareness of this if it occurs is as important as maintaining the Open Awareness itself for the client.

The transpersonal coach facilitates the re-programming of beliefs and behaviours to be more aligned with the clients best expression. It is vitally important that the coach does not make any pre-suppositions or recommendations but keeps the space open and allows for the client to arrive at their own conclusions. Coming to their own conclusions will ensure a greater integration of this new perspective and realisation.

Transformation in coaching occurs when the coach creates a safe space with compassion and commitment to the client. The coach then facilitates in the emergence of a shift in perspective to see the true nature of the block and to allow for a transformational move forward and beyond the challenge. The client then recognises the positive message to be learned and the small steps to take to overcome the challenge and integrate the learning towards growth.

Coaching, leadership, education and spiritual practices empower the individual to access and bring forth their greatest self but can be influenced by the power of the ego conscious conditioned mind. Transpersonal perspectives go beyond the ego conscious which is affected by past conditioning external to our true essence.

Paramount in the transformation is the shift in the clients perspective which can only be really completed by expanding their awareness and state of consciousness beyond the conditioned Ego using transpersonal methods.

The coach through the law of attraction can unknown to themselves be attracting clients with similar challenges to themselves. So it is so important for the coach to continually check that they are being fully at service to the client and the clients journey and experience and not mirroring or shadowing the experience from their own psyche. I think this requires a strong commitment and intention to serve the client fully and in whatever capacity one as a coach is directed and to commit to following the direction intuitively.

When a coach feels the urge to comment or make suggestions it is imperative they ensure they check in with themselves to see are they serving the client with the comment or suggestion or their own ego based idiosyncrasies. A personal commitment on the coaches behalf to keep a sacred space open, follow intuition and allow the vast majority of the discourse to come from the client will suffice and protect from overstepping the boundary.

The essence is ‘holding the space’, maintaining open awareness, ensuring the focus remains on the clients perspective only and then with the coaches intuitive ability to lead for the client’s greater good. “intuitive resonance and rapport, a participatory perspective, mindfulness, an accepting and compassionate attitude, and a shift in both practitioner and client from a narrow to an expanded state” (Dängeli, 2018, p.42)

In considering this in the context of Transpersonal coaching for burnout and spiritual emergencies or awakenings the value of holding the space and maintaining same is clearly evident. Modern day society is suffering hugely from stress and the symptoms of stress and the over bombardment of the information and technology age. Hochschild (1983) referred to emotive dissonance , which occurs when “corporate expectations and pressures contradict worker’s self-conceptions and emotions…workers…experience a sense of inauthenticity, alienation, and consequently dissatisfaction and burnout” ( Schaible & Gecas, 2010, p.318). 

Yet burnout may very well be the catalyst for transformation and evolution as described by Taylor (2010, p.21) “Turmoil and stress can be like an earthquake, breaking down the structure of the normal self and allowing a more expansive and intense state of being to unfold.”

I believe that burnout or spiritual crisis and turmoil is the after effect of ignoring the subtle messages from the inner self to the outer self to change. The importance of realising our path and best expression is highlighted by Lasley, Kellogg, Michaels, Brown (2015, p.331) citing the Bhagavad Gita “it is better to do your own duty imperfectly than to do another’s perfectly.”

This form of transformation is tremendously powerful because it concerns all aspects and layers of the self. “Burnout is a form of deep human suffering at every level – physical, psychological, social, spiritual – which occurs when old ways of being in the world no longer work and start to disintegrate”. Wright (2005, p.1-24) The transformation then affects all aspects of the self and brings alignment into the person at multiple levels.

It is also hugely rewarding leading to a total transformation of the self to its true essential nature.

“Burnout … can be, a door to walk through into a life with space, love and joy – indeed, a sense of being able to be one’s true self” (Glouberman, 2002). The importance is further endorsed by Tolle (1997) "Awareness of the inner body is consciousness remembering its origin and returning to its source". The goal of the process then is an ultimate return to wholeness for the client and the essence of the process itself is the allowingness for the layers of conditioning and past perspectives and states of consciousness to subside to make way for the newly transformed self.

The importance of establishing securing and maintaining a safe space then is very important when one considers the intensity of this type of coaching and development. “The birth of a new self can be painful and dangerous, but eventually the difficulties pass and the new self-settles into a new state.” (Taylor, 2017, p.158).

The coach not only needs to continue to hold and maintain the space but also to encourage the client to traverse normal states of consciousness to eradicate past conditioning and habitual patterns to enable the newly evolved self to emerge.

It requires strength and experience on the part of the coach to continue to hold the space as the client traverses this new paradigm in their development. It often requires a number of sessions to eradicate past habitual patterns from years of conditioning. Taylor (2010, p.xv) discussing temporary awakening experiences explains “You can think of our normal consciousness as a particular kind of ‘mental structure’. In awakening experiences the structure dissolves but it usually reforms itself soon afterwards”. “An awakened person may have pre-established behavioural traits that carry over into their new state and may take a long time to fade away (or may never fade away completely” (Taylor, 2017, p.175). The coach facilitates the client to initially feel safe and supported in the space to allow the growth and transformation to occur and then thereafter continues to support to override past conditioning aspects and perspectives of the self no longer serving the client.

In summary, holding the space is fundamental and imperative without which the process cannot progress. Thereafter, the process involves maintaining the space and encouraging the clients progression in the fullness of support and in the absence of Ego to establish new states of consciousness and perspectives which serve the client in their development.

 

References

Anaïs, N. (1961). Seduction of the Minotaur . The Swallow Press, Chicago, Illinois, p. 124.

Dängeli, J. (Ed.) (2018). “Approaching a Working Definition of Transpersonal Coaching Psychology”, in The transpersonal coaching handbook. p.36, 42, 108

Glouberman, D. (2002). The joy of burnout: how burning out unlocks the way to a better, brighter future. (Kindle version). Retrieved from Amazon.co.uk.

Hochschild, A. R. (1983). The managed heart: Commercialization of human feeling. Berkeley: University of California Press. 

Stork, J. (2018). Transpersonal Coaching: Models for Transformation and Self

Scharmer, C. Otto. (2016). Theory U: Leading from the future as it emerges. 2nd Edition Berrett-Koehler Publishers Inc. p.4.

Taylor, S. (2010) Waking from Sleep: Hay House p.xv

Taylor, S. (2017). The leap: The psychology of spiritual awakening. New World Library. P.158, 175

Tolle, E (1997) The Power of Now

Lasley, M., Kellogg, V., Michaels, R., Brown, S. (2015). Coaching for Transformation: Pathways to Ignite Personal & Social Change. p.331. Second Edition Discover Press.

Metzner R. (1995). “Therapeutic application of altered states of consciousness (ASC)”, in Worlds of Consciousness, vol 5, edited by Schiliclitiny M, Leunes H. Berlin, VWB.

Walsh, R and Vaughan, F. (1980). Journal of Humanistic Psychology 20 , pp. 5-31.

Wright S (2005) Burnout. A spiritual crisis. Nurs Stand 19(46): 1-24 


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(@dshields)
Active Member
Joined: 2 years ago
Posts: 5
26/12/2018 6:29 pm  

I think that's well written. I think this sentence is important: "The temptation is to succumb to the Ego in bringing the coaches perspectives into the coaching session thus distorting the authenticity of the clients process."

It's good to remember that the client has to come up with their own conclusions and we shouldn't allow transference to take place where the client starts to view the therapist as a type of guru with all the answers, especially since we could be dealing with spiritual matters and the law of attraction, there could be a lot of synchronicity about.

I also like to remember when I'm holding space for the client and being in open awareness, that I shouldn't talk down to them or let them play games with their problems, such as acting like a victim. I remember and keep in my mind that I'm also talking to the higher-self of the person, and so should speak and act with respect, and coach and connect with the more aware higher-self aspect of them. I feel that when you do that, the client meets you at the same level and it helps build trust and form that safe healing space.

 

 


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(@hennie)
Member Moderator
Joined: 2 years ago
Posts: 16
26/12/2018 9:54 pm  

So, does the ego have no role to play in transpersonal coaching? 

Does Open Awareness really edit out the ego? Should it? 

It's conceivable  that, as coaches, overidentification with the aspects of our individual processes that fall under the collective term ego may influence the coaching space.

Does that mean we should leave the ego outside the door? (but then, what would do the leaving and where would we know to fetch it when we're done?). Or, what aspects of our egos could we harness, through integrated and expanded awareness?

I wonder, when we say we bring the totality of our beings into the held space, what do we really mean?

Hennie 


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(@dshields)
Active Member
Joined: 2 years ago
Posts: 5
27/12/2018 12:12 am  

Here is an interesting transcript from one of my sessions when we discussed the ego:

Daniel: “She said that she feels like she has a block at the moment about needing to be heard, what’s that about?”

Client: “I think it’s a lesson of, of maybe understanding the ego, so it's another aspect of wrestling with her ego, but it’s not important”

Daniel: “She said it might be about self worth, which would be related to ego…”

Client: “Yes but it’s all just very small… in the grand scheme of things. It’s big for her, but in the grand scheme of things its tiny, irrelevant. It’s also maybe a good reminder for her to have compassion of her own fragilities in order to keep compassion going with peoples fragilities and what for her may not seem like a big thing but for others is. I think that’s what that’s about for her.”

Daniel: “Can you please do a body scan and see how the bodies doing?”

Client: “Nervous of having said that, of what I just said… so my hands have been very still and crossed along my chest for a long time and now its almost like there’s an arrogance, not comfortable — so that’s the answer, and that in itself is the ego… and I know the ego doesn’t serve me so well sometimes. So, my body scan shows my body is wrestling with my ego, who is interfering with this, and its getting fuzzy. So I need to ask my ego to only be in position to be of service, only if its of the highest good, and please to respect that, and thank my ego for bringing that to my awareness.”

Daniel: “What is the ego saying now.”

Client: “It’s quiet. It’s very lovely. Humbled. It feels like a monk has gone into its wilderness… but nicely, with respect. So I thank it and thank that monk for representing it.”

The client was interested in helping others during the dying process, and she helps facilitate mushroom ceremonies, so “fragility in others” refers to this. I like to think back on her personification and that we can ask the ego to be in service if it's of the highest good and to respect that process, because the ego does have a role of its own. I think the ego also exists to remind us and teaches us lessons, so we can listen to it and perhaps the more we respect we show the more like a mindful monk it will become.

I'm not an expert on psychology so I'm not sure about all the individual processes used to categorise the mind, and we may lose value by grouping everything into a general term of ego. However, I'm not sure if there is even a consensus understanding of the ego.

Regarding the totality and bringing it into the held space, this is just my own opinion but I think only when the ego is quiet (and respected), only then do you make room to invite the higher-self aspects into the room. In magical work you often enter a sacred circle, or wear a sacred cloak, which represents this entrance into an altered state where magical things can happen, like healing and transformation.

I don't think you need to go through such measures to access a state of open awareness, but I do still think we should be mindful of our own perspectives and not force our opinions and spiritual beliefs onto the client, especially if they are in a trance or vulnerable space, we need to take extra care not to make impressions on them, and as the article mentions, allowing the client to come to their own conclusions ensures greater integration of the healing or realisations.

But it's a large topic so I'm interested to hear some other perspectives... I believe that in transpersonal regressions, I'm only a guide and a blank slate without presuppositions, so if I have to ask the client to drop their ego then I have to do the same, but then a transpersonal coach may have a different role to play and work in a different manner.


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(@vladimir-vujovic)
Active Member
Joined: 11 months ago
Posts: 4
07/02/2019 12:29 pm  

@ronanrooney

Experiences from other modalities, such as psychotherapy and counselling are useful for coaches, as they can understand that some people need more time, sometimes even years, to heal or transform themselves. Although, there are some sudden and dramatic transformative moments, transformation more often happens gradually (Schlitz, Vieten, & Amorok, 2008). It is beneficial to understand levels/depth of breakthroughs and insights. In this way, although that can be significant for the client, it can also be misleading for them, and coaches can help them put their experience into perspective.

In addition, I think that continuous self-development and well-being are imperatives for coaches. I agree with you that coaches’ ability to keep their own ego and personal impressions and beliefs out of the space will determine the success of the journey for the client. Next to countertransference and/or possible ego’s influence on a process, as we enter “a liminal space that is open, receptive and emergent and that promotes transpersonal knowing” (Dangeli, 2018) personal mental and emotional hygiene, are of significance as well, as they can have a significant impact on a client.

@Hennie

I support your questions regarding ego, and for me Washburn’s model of Human development (Washburn, 1988) seems appropriate. In a nutshell, in Washburn’s model, the ego harmoniously rooted in the Dynamic Ground, is the subject of spirit, which is the sovereign power of the psyche. Therefore, the ego has a choice to willingly serve spirit, and not to be regarded as a undeveloped structure or a hindrance.

 

References

Dangeli, J. (2018). Approaching a Working Definition of Transpersonal Coaching Psychology. In J. Dängeli (Ed.), The transpersonal coaching handbook.

Schlitz, M. M., Vieten, C., & Amorok, T. (2008). Living Deeply: The Art and Science of Transformation in Everyday Life. Oakland, California: New Harbinger Publications.

Washburn, M. (1988). The ego and the dynamic ground: A transpersonal theory of human development. . Albany, New York: SUNY Press.

This post was modified 10 months ago 2 times by vladimir.vujovic

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