80% of people 80% of the time know what they want to do when they face a problem. The average human being is intelligent. Whether through instinct, when facing a life threatening dilemma or through intellect when requiring thoughtful response, every man, woman and child does have an answer. These answers may not be universal, and would serve for the most part individual needs.
The Need for External Guidance
Why do people, intelligent people, seek out mentors, coaches and therapists to seek answers to questions they already know the answers to? In some cases, the 20%, the answers may be buried within at various levels of depth. This may need some exploration, which most people are capable of, yet lazy to work on. In most cases, however, the reason is that we don’t trust ourselves to know what to do, and when we think we know, then we doubt the what and how and when and with whom to do.
I think it was Einstein who said that a problem cannot be resolved at the same level of awareness at which the problem arose; yes, we do need to create a higher level of awareness to resolve the problem. Given the human consciousness of thought, emotions, instinct, intellect and intuition, somewhere deep within us we do have the capability to create this awareness. Yet, we don’t. Ironically, we do create this awareness with the help of another human being, as a coach, mentor or counselor, who may have far less access to all the information than we do to create the required awareness.
Instinctively, Intellectually or Intuitively, most of us most of the time have a flash of insight that tells us what to do when we are faced with a problem. It is not as if we are deer caught in the headlights of a car transfixed unable to think, feel and act, except in extraordinary situations. Ironically at such times, it is too late to seek out others to help.
This flash of insight is immediately caught in a web of uncertainty and ambiguity, not because it is volatile and complex, merely because we have a powerful friend in our mind that creates a doubt about our capability to possess the ability to create this insight. We then move into zones of discomfort, with anxiety, fear, and stress.
My Observations From Coaching Executives and Professionals
Let me illustrate with cases. Many executives and professionals, who I have trained to be coaches, have experienced day-to-day business situations where they flow with solutions. When I train them as coaches, not only do they learn to coach others in creating awareness leading to fruitful actions leading to their desired outcomes, they also learn to coach themselves using the same process. What you cannot do for yourself, you cannot do unto others.
Yet, many when they wish to embark on a coach’s journey leaving behind whatever else they did before are suddenly seized with anxiety, fears and stress. Do I have what it takes to be a coach is the question they often ask me? When I sit with them as a coach they realize that, yes, I do have what it takes to be successful as a coach and this is what I need to do, how, when and with whom.
Why is it that they need me? Why is it that any one needs a coach? Why cannot they coach themselves to the same awareness that a coach brings to the table?
Notwithstanding the fact that understanding this ‘why’ would put me out of business along with many other coaches, I do believe we need to address it.
The more I see this phenomenon and reflect on it, the more I realize that this self doubt leading to loss of confidence and the creation of anxiety, stress and fear arises when we lack clarity, and therefore conviction in what we wish to pursue. From a mere possibility, it becomes a Mission Impossible. No, it does not become; we create the Mission Impossible.
We lack purpose, meaning, North Star, Source or whatever the new age buzzword of the moment is that would allow us to anchor, focus and center ourselves in the moment, and then align ourselves to that vision that we seek. Each of has a vision. We are just too lazy to find it if we haven’t found it already; or we are too afraid to move out of the painful zone of comfort we are settled in fearing that moving out of the pain will cause us more pain.
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The Role of Meditation in Building Awareness
The question for most of us is, what tool or technique would help me find that purpose if I am not aware of it now? What is that one factor which would infuse me with confidence removing the doubt within?
The simplest answer I can give from my experiential wisdom is meditation. The definition of meditation is to focus on a thought, feeling, sensation such as an image or sound, instead of allowing our monkey mind to wander seeking more and newer pastures to graze on uselessly, distracting us and when we try to settle and be still create doubts and fears within.
Meditation to our mind is the leash to a dog. Once conditioned to focus we won’t need it; till then most of us cannot do without it.
Once you finish reading this piece, take 10 minutes. Pose this question to your inner intelligence – what is my purpose?
Sit where you are comfortable. Place your feet firmly on the ground if you are in a chair, or under you if you are sitting on the ground. Place your hands on your lap. Bring the thumb and first two fingers of both hands together in a kinesthetic anchor that will help your body and mind to come back to this state when you repeat. Close your eyes.
Breathe in deeply from below your diaphragm, as deep as you can with both nostrils, with your stomach moving out. Feel your stomach if you need to reassure yourself. Imagine you are inhaling the energy of the universe. Feel refreshed. Fake your thoughts and feelings initially, if you need to.
Hold this breath for a few moments, as long as you are comfortable. Do not count or otherwise measure. Think that this energy that you inhaled is spreading through your body and mind, to every organ, and feel energized.
Then exhale, if you prefer with your mouth slightly open, letting out all that you held, including your feelings and sensations. Allow your body and mind to expand beyond the bag of skin that holds your organs together into the energy space of the universe you are breathing from. Don’t worry; nothing will spill out.
Hold the exhaled breath without counting or measuring, as long as you are comfortable. Think you are now part of the energy space of the universe; feel you are the energy of the universe. Feel the peace and bliss, eventually.
Repeat this cycle of inhalation, holding, exhalation and holding for at least 10 minutes initially, and 20 minutes once you are comfortable as a minimum. Bring your attention to your heart region while continuing to breathe. With your mind held in leash by the focus on the breath the answer to your question will emerge.
There are multiple ways to leashing the mind. What I have described is the simplest. Try it.