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Coaching as Sacred Space by Edna Murdoch

https://coachingsupervisionacademy.com/blog/supervision-as-sacred-space/

Supervision as Sacred space

sacred space

Written by CSA co-Founder Edna Murdoch

‘Our separateness is an illusion; we are interconnected parts of the whole…Our reality is larger than you or me.’
Ervin Laszlo

Several times recently supervisees have uttered the word ‘sacred’ as they have reflected on our work, their own work, or in conversations they are currently having with leaders and with their own supervisees. Why is this word cropping up more frequently now? It may be that beyond the eruption and distress of uncertainty that so many are experiencing, there is an expectation of finding something better in ourselves as we ricochet from uncertainty to stability and back.  As a result, we are touching (and not touching!) each other more deeply and experiencing directly what the well-worn phrase ‘shared humanity’ actually means. We really are in this together; together, is the way we all have to move forward. This is a new time and for many, our sacred core is more evident than usual. Professional webinar discussions and social media posts are full of this renewed awareness – the traditional news media will take a little time to catch up.

As I have explored the unexpected utterance of this lovely old word ‘sacred’ with supervisees, I have realised that we were reaching for something that names the almost unnameable – a coming closer to self and other, that has humility and hunger in it and sometimes tears. It is as if doors are opening inside each of us and between us. Our professional conversations are freighted with what has been loosened in this extraordinary time. Not that we can name all that yet.  The usual discourses of coaches, leaders and supervisors have been superseded by bigger, deeper conversations. Some of us wonder how to navigate the next weeks and months while being buffeted by rapidly changing news, death rates, economic turbulence, grieving for what has already gone and for what might yet collapse. Others find more equanimity in the middle of it all – even a level of presence, purpose and joy that has surprised them.

Sacred. Who are we really, what is actually there if we are quiet enough and slow enough to get close? Who coaches?  Who supervises? What in ourselves do we work from?

“There is a presence, a silence, a stillness which is here by itself. There is no doer of it, no creator of this stillness. It is simply here in you, with you. It is the fragrance of your own self. There is nothing to do about this, it is naturally present. This fragrance of peace, this spaciousness, it is the fragrance of your own being.”  Mooji

In the recently quietened world, many of us have felt the touch of the what we might call sacred – there is more tenderness, more heart, more giving, more clarity – and renewed purpose. Individual, and societal purpose.  Many people are re-loving their world, valuing having time at home, with partners and children, time to be in nature, time to muse. In the wider community, there is much greater urgency now to re-balance our societies and businesses so that all are honoured and all are suitably rewarded.

In the West, we have traditionally looked to religions to provide a sense of the sacred; unfortunately, they have provided a slimmed down version of the sacred – like being given a tiny taste of chocolate while that gorgeous bar is way out of reach. Centuries ago, the West lost its way, murdering and destroying older cultures for whom the sacred was everywhere.  We opted for money, and power instead, killing as we went, establishing subservience to a variety of male gods as a possible means of maybe touching the divine….if we paid enough……if we worked hard enough at it.  Just, maybe….

But sacred is what we naturally are. Einstein said it this way:

We are slowed down sound and light waves, a walking bundle of frequencies tuned in to the cosmos. We are souls dressed up in sacred biochemical garments and our bodies are the instruments through which our souls play their music.

That provides a rather vivid angle on the ‘who are we’ question. It may however, point to what is at work when in supervision, the conversation deepens to hold a space for everyone in the system, and includes purpose, values, desire, love. Of course, we touch the sacred then, and it is not a surprise that this is so; we touch the best in ourselves. Or as one supervisee, speaking of their work with leaders, said to me, ‘we step into mystery’.  The ‘I-Thou’ is constellated every time a coach, supervisor or leader meets the other openly and shares the willingness to discover something new, something better together. Sharmer/Senge remind of us the necessity for an ‘open mind, open heart, open will’ – a conscious letting go so that more can come through us.

When we meet like this, we are met along the way; intelligence, perception and imagination are increased and all parties have the experience of being touched by something ‘larger’ in themselves than they usually experience. For example, we may wonder where an image or idea came from. New insights emerge quite naturally and without strain. This emergence is natural of course; it is a result of who we actually are and we do not have to strive, or atone or pay for it. I am sure that many of you have noticed that you can go into a session a bit tired or feeling not quite up to the task, and emerge a couple of hours later glowing, full of energy and wondering where the tiredness went. In the ‘I-Thou’ conversations, the sacred is present, ‘our souls play their music’ together.

Having a sense of the sacred is not necessarily about having a ‘spiritual life’. The point is that at times of crisis, when the dense cloak of habit, comforts and distractions is stripped away, we are brought closer to who we really are – and that’s not our MBTI scores, personality patterns, professional roles, our meditation practice or the face we scrutinize in the mirror. No, this is about who and what we actually are.

We are “not blank…inside there is total serenity and peace. No planning, no strategising, no personal identity is there. Just the space of pure being. It is what we are.” Mooji

And if we get a bit squeamish about the directness of that statement, (and I sometimes do) I think the squeamishness underlines how far we can be from recognising who we are and how much we in the West, have been duped into accepting a much diminished sense of self. It is horribly clear at this time, how degraded western life has become. I need not outline again the litany of abuses that demonstrate this or how the drive for power, money and success has robbed western civilisation of its soul, left the natural world in such peril and ourselves, unnecessarily divided.

What cheers me enormously in our profession is the shift in our conversations over the last ten years or so, from focussing narrowly on developing individuals, to including the diverse human and natural systems that inform every dialogue in which we participate – from ego to eco. More often now, we are conscious of the living field of our work with clients and within organisations.

“The organisation is viewed as an energy field, emerging potential, a form of life that transcends is stakeholders, pursuing its own unique evolutionary purpose. In that paradigm, we don’t ‘run’ the organisation, not even if we are the founder or legal owner. Instead, we are stewards of the organisation; we are the vehicle that listens in to the organisation’s deep creative potential to help it do its work in the world’. Frederic Laloux

I was pleased to see that a recent joint statement by all of the major coaching bodies refers to: ‘the interconnectedness of all species and earth systems’. We are growing up together, more consciously living our sacred identity and our bodies indeed ‘are the instruments through which our souls play their music’.

The often quoted ‘who you are, is how you coach/supervise/lead’, came to me many years ago in a memorable conversation with Aboodi Shabi. It became the mantra for CSA. In teaching our brilliant students over many years, I have begun to touch what that mantra might really mean. I am still learning about it, as I work with supervisees. The phrase itself has become a kind of teacher, a lens through which to reflect on my work with coaches and leaders and on my work in CSA. Conversations in supervision can range from a kind of detective work that unravels complexity and brings clarity and resourcefulness to the coach, to conversations that also touch the sacred.

Supervision as sacred space?  For those of you who respond to poetry, Fred LaMotte has recently written a poem that eloquently underlines our sacred identity:

When you discover that

each breath is nectar

indescribably sweet,

and the space between

your heartbeats is

the silence between stars,

and the one who

encircles you with

unfathomable compassion

is inside,

and the luminous hollow

of each nerve in your body

echoes with the sound

that created all things –

then you are rich.

You need nothing.

You can begin to live

In the moonlight,

the sensation of dew

on bare feet,

the smell of honeysuckle,

the sparkling transparency

of this perishing moment.

Fred LaMotte

Edna Murdoch June 2020  www.coachingsupervisionacademy.com


Offering Ways to Cope

Dear Readers:

I am mindful of the aspect of fear that many of you are facing now and in the days to come. In an effort to assist you all, please know that we can work together in a one on one session. You can just email me or ping me on social media to schedule. My Instagram is @a_practical_guide_to_awareness  and Facebook is the same.

What would a one on session involve? We will target your fear or feelings that result in fear and we will practice a strategy to overcome that fear, as well as discuss it. Utilizing deep breath work,  and instructions to clear your mind, we will arrive at a balanced state and clarity of  mind will ensue.

After the session we will communicate and you will be provided with daily tips to get through the difficulties.  Soon you will automatically provide yourself the healing or calmness or balanced alignment you require as an individual.

Remember, we are all units of divine consciousness so the trust you place in the higher power, what you wish to call it, God, Goddess, Consciousness, or Creator, is the way toward freedom from fear.

Creating space in your day to reflect, go inward and clear your mind will only help to serve you in the days ahead. Namaste Dear Ones! img_6586

Hello, is anyone there?

Hello, is anyone there?

Lately, I have heard from colleagues around the world, that a common theme missing in professional and personal interaction  is the lack of real, productive, authentic and genuine communication. Yes, you read that correctly.

Let’s back up to the introduction of email messaging. Remember when we thought it was such a novelty? When emailing came on the scene, during the 90’s at the Florida Lottery,  I was a press secretary for Rebecca Paul. I was then thrilled at this amazing technology.

We could now do e-blasts of press releases to the media and communicate via email to people on an international level in an efficient way. There were so many advantages to sending out messaging to a large group of people for which I did not to have call individually. Whew! But, on second thought, I did have to answer the phone when they called me with questions. That was fun though!

Next, we can recall when text messaging was developed and introduced to the public at large and then in professional communication. Now, it’s such a common form of communication to the masses, the President of the United States utilizes it frequently without having to engage with the general public.

Study upon study provides us the research that screen time is detrimental to our kids health, to our health and now they say blue light increases sugar consumption! What?! So, for example, if you are on your computer at night and the screen is lit with no other lighting in the room, the blue light from the screen is detrimental to your health. Yep!

A very interesting article that I read recently in “The Balance Blog,” is about the top ten communication skills to cultivate. I happen to agree with this list.

  1. Listening

  2. Non-Verbal Communication

  3. Clarity and Concision

  4. Friendliness

  5. Confidence

  6. Empathy

  7. Open-Mindedness

  8. Respect

  9. Feedback

  10. Choosing the Right Medium

(https://www.thebalancecareers.com/communication-skills-list-2063779)

Obviously, we understand why sending an email cannot possibly demonstrate the benefits of listening, and many other passive communication items listed here. Do you feel that something is missing now, maybe in our feeling of accomplishment and achieving a feeling of purpose in the workplace? Doesn’t talking to each other by giving compliments on a job well done help everyone feel good? I think we can agree on this aspect of a lack of communication. Not to mention, within families and interpersonal relationships. Some people don’t talk on the phone anymore. Period. That is sad and it emphasizes the distance we now cultivate within our relationships. We can say anything we want by texting or emailing without a certain accountability. Especially on social media. Without having to look at the face of the person we are railing against, we can say whatever we want, right?

Finally, how about the amount of time it takes to go back and forth via emails to answer questions and discuss complicated topics? Oh my gosh! Just call me please?! It takes a minute to leave a message. And it may take a few minutes to actually talk to someone on the phone in order to clear up a confusion around …. guess what—an email. Even interviews are done in writing now. Not that it’s horrible, but where is the energy there? The shared energy and synchronicities are non-existent in a written Q and A.

I often used to visit the same village in the Luberon in South of France. A portion of my day as well as that of the local residents, was spent on visiting. Simply discussing the weather, the best meat at le boucher, the cheese at the épicerie, and so on. Not a lot of time but enough of a friendly respite, in being present. Listening, caring, and exchanging ideas and so on. It is common in many European cities and villages, especially small ones.

The days of calling each other have dwindled and it’s clearly not contributing to feelings of positivity, friendliness, clarity and conciseness.

I’d love to see a show of hands for those who feel the same way. In fact, my new book will focus on communication and the fear of interaction we exhibit now. It will focus on other ideas as well, but lets face it. We need to get back to visiting each other and spending time in conversation. Even at work. Talk to your friends, to your colleagues, to the mailman or woman, and ask them what they think. Conduct an informal study and see what your results turn out to be. Then share —-please! Exciting things happen when people talk to each other.

Oh yes and give me call…

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