Tag Archives: Coaching

The learning spiral – from fractals to freedom


spirals-and-fractals-5

 

Have you noticed how time never passes ‘normally’? It’s always faster or slower than you think. Which makes me wonder how we intuitively know what is time’s normal pace. Otherwise how can we experience it passing by at a quicker or more lazy pace than it ‘should’?

Although our brains love to turn time, and most of our experience of life, into a linear pattern of moving from A to B, there may be different, more interesting shapes out there in the universe.

Like the spiral for example. It’s everywhere in nature…from our DNA to roses, snails, hurricanes and even galaxies like the Milky Way. In maths, the Fibonacci sequence (0,1,1,2,3,5,8 etc) describes these gracefully unfurling shapes.

If you add two Fibonacci sequences you approximate the Golden Ratio which defines the architecture of historic monuments such as the Giza pyramids and the Greek Parthenon.

Dogmatic creationism aside, there is poetry in the idea that “the spiral is the fingerprint of God which resides in all of creation.”

spirals-and-fractals

From Fractals to Freedom

Even in our subtle emotional bodies we experience spirals of deeper and deeper learning.

Again they’re often misinterpreted by our brain as a two-dimensional line. We feel disillusioned when an issue we thought we had ‘dealt with’, comes back with a vengeance.

‘What? It’s still not over?! I’ve not made any progress and am back where I started?!’ – our saboteur brain starts chattering. We become convinced that we’ve taken quite a few steps back on our journey.

I see this often happening when coaching clients go through grief, process a break up or even let go of patterns that are no longer serving.

Instead of perceiving progress as linear, let’s add a third dimension and experience it as a spiral. Then we’re not going back to where we came from, but are tracing a circle, adding depth with each step taken, like the rose, snail and planets do.

In the reiki healing tradition, the sacred symbol of the spiral adds power and protection, indicating to “place the power of the universe here’.

Every time we reach the same side of the circle at a deeper level, we have the opportunity to understand the issue more deeply so that healing and integration can occur at a more profound level.

We continue to go deeper down into our learning spirals until we reach the deepest core of the issue, the end point of the spiral.

Then we may become aware of an even bigger spiral repeating the shape of the first smaller spiral. Like in a fractal image of expanding symmetry, one spiral is the building block for an even larger spiral.

In yoga philosophy, the serpent lies coiled like a spiral at the base of our spine until the kundalini energy, or the intelligence of complete maturation, is awakened.

Perhaps our fractal learning experience continues until our karma expires. Until we reach enlightenment and we’re free of patterns, be they lines or spirals.

fractal-spiral-wallpaper-2153-2262-hd-wallpapers

What spiral are you on?

I’d love to hear from you about your current learning spiral!

On the Maitree Community – the Sangha of Joy’s September calls, we are sharing and learning about spirals of self love, following the heart, being soft and firm, letting go.

I’m on the ‘surrender’ spiral. Every time I’ve surrendered more deeply, I’m presented with an even harder thing to surrender. It’s almost as if the universe is trying to tell me:

“Do you think you’ve mastered surrender by letting go of your high performing corporate career, and receiving a beautifully balanced and free life doing what I love most?

Then try this: surrendering your relationship.

Now do you think you’ve mastered the trick by breaking up and being gifted a fully unexpected reunion with your partner when he asks you to marry him?

Then try this: give up your home and sense of belonging in Auroville.”

That’s where I am at in my surrender spiral.

Deep down with no end in sight and a smile on my face thanks to the gift of 20 all Indian sisters in the dance and movement therapy course I just started in Bangalore. But I’m sure despite these gifts I’ll find something else to cling to!

fractal-771972_960_720

Spirals and movement

The dance and movement therapy course has much inspired me in many ways, integrating movement into my coaching practice and finding innovative ways of exploring authentic intuitive movement with clients.

In the sangha calls, we have been exploring the fun yet sacred element of moving spirals. Once we identified our learning spirals, we found movement to express them – from whirling dervish to rolling child and surfing on the waves of life.

The spiral movements we discovered were both liberating and transformative. They helped us shake off old patterns, for exampling shifting into an anti-clock wise upward spiral when in a clock wise downward spiral. And shifted us into new ways of being, for example from strongly spiralling our arms to protect ourselves, to a gentle swaying of the hips as a soft and peaceful pillar of strength.

Some say that spiral movements are among the oldest on the planet, as eye-less creatures grazed the ocean floor following their mouths with their digestive tubes.

There is a mysterious power in recreating ancient, primitive movement patterns – at once healing and joyful. While it’s fun to move in spirals, the movement awakens a deep vibration within us that seems to allow us to shift quickly from one state to another.

If you’re interested in exploring the mystery further, join me end January in Auroville for the ‘Swing Your Hips’ 3-day women’s intuitive dance retreat.

I’m also starting to offer authentic movement spaces in Auroville and Pondicherry, organically for women only for now, yet I’m planning mixed dance spaces later in the season.

For more info, keep an eye out on the website or get in touch via julie@maitreecoaching.com. Looking forward to hearing from you!

Advertisements

Restoring the Lotus


I’ve been much resonating with this passage from Anodea Judith on ‘Restoring the Lotus. Healing the Fifth Chakra’:

“If we express ourselves before our truth is fully ripened, then our actions are out of sync with our potential fullness. This is commonly experienced as ‘poor timing’.

Years ago, I habitually pushed myself in my work rather than waiting for my organic fullness to motivate me. When I rushed myself ahead of my own natural rhythm, I felt unprepared, stressed, anxious, and even a bit breathless. We push our timing out of sync because of financial pressure, emotional insecurity, fear, hunger for power, and the excessive rule of our mind as it orders our bodies with its barrage of “shoulds.”

Instead, when mind and body are balanced, we can dance to the rhythm of our own personal vibration as it resonates with the environment and the people around us.”

From her beautifully complete and masterful work on the psychology of the chakra system, ‘Eastern Body, Western Mind.’ Highly recommended!

The last full moon highlighted for me a blockage in my throat chakra and in the process of working with that I rediscovered Anodea’s work.

IMG_0627

I realised I was very much fighting to acknowledge and express two realisations brought up by my return to Auroville which coincided with this strong Aquarius full moon. I’ve noticed a funny pattern over the past half year – all my travels have been aligned to the full or new moon.

In Auroville I feel the presence of the moon stronger. Being in the forest the night sky is more visible, and the absence of city vibrations leaves more space to notice the moon’s impact.

This month’s full moon was in the sign of the future. Aquarius, the harbinger of things to come. A curveball moon, full of unexpected turns.

These turns were twofold for me – in love and work. And they shook me, making me feel quite wretched until I let go of attachment to what I thought was meant to be. As soon as I found back my flexibility, I could see new perspectives open up.

In Anodea’s words, as soon as I lost my rigidity of fear, paralysis of uncertainty, I could resonate at a new vibration, and create opportunities. Another approach to going at the pace of what is real.

I acknowledged two core inner truths about my love and work, and now feel fully aligned again.

In love, I renewed my vows to my life partner and committed even more deeply to a love and union of evolution.

In work, I moved on to work with those people whose values I share. Again, it comes down to the frequency – we resonate more fully when we work with people and organisations that we are aligned to. Then creativity can flourish.

Let’s see what the next full moon has in store!

At the pace of what is real


I’ve been travelling a lot over the past month – South of France, French Alps, London, Amsterdam, and now back in India…with a full heart, relieved to be home again, and grateful for all the soulful joyful reunions with friends and family in Europe. Also with a tired body, taking time to rest and get comfortable with the monsoon weather and crazy beloved India.

The need for rest has been appearing synchronistically in conversations with friends and coachees for the last few weeks. For example my GP and health coach cousin who works with women in their 30s that have developed a range of psychosomatic conditions, often because of a diary full of everything, but rest. A coachee saw her emotional eating habits transformed once she allowed herself proper rest. And my partner Shivi needs complete rest to recover from a viral fever – no phone, no movie, not even a book…

This – naturally! – comes at a time when I’m learning how to rest properly, for example deactivating after lunch and dinner, taking a break after every hour spent behind the computer, no phone 1hr after waking up and 1hr before sleeping…and the health effects are so clear. More peace of mind, clarity, ease, stability. Less stress, cravings and fewer outside events triggering annoyance or frustration.

Mark Nepo calls this state ‘At the pace of what is real’ in one of his poems in ‘The Book of Awakening‘. I love sharing it with my Joyful Living Retreat participants on Day 4 when we look at how to flow through life..

The ocean stirsthe heart, inspiresthe imagination& brings eternaljoy to the soul-4

In my search for rest, I’m facing a big saboteur – the one saying ‘you’re not working hard enough, you’re not productive enough, you don’t deserve rest, you’re not doing anything with your life.’ Or even ‘You’re already meditating and doing yoga every day, what more rest do you need?!’

Luckily my inner leader is telling me that I’m more productive when fully rested because the right things happen at the right moment, effortlessly. And that in rest and quiet we create the space to listen to our soul and where it’s guiding us. As Rumi puts it so beautifully:

Rumi quote

I’m curious to hear your thoughts and experiences with busy-ness, rest, going at the pace of what is real and listening to your soul. Respond to this post, email me or join us for the next Maitree Community – the Sangha of Joy’s monthly call where we’ll be exploring what INTUITION and GOING AT THE PACE OF WHAT IS REAL means to us..

The August Sangha calls are taking place on Sunday 14th August at 11am Central European Time/2.30pm Indian Standard Time and Thursday 18th August at 4.30pm Central European Time/8pm Indian Standard Time. Get in touch with me if you’re keen to join (julie@maitreecoaching.com)!

Ikigai or the reason you wake up in the morning


tumblr_nhkqr5BQqh1r2oqzao1_540

IKIGAI

(n) a reason for being; the thing
that gets you up in the morning

As a life and executive coach I’m intrigued and inspired by this Japanese idea that is said to contribute to the many healthy centenarians living on the islands of Okinawa in Southern Japan, where the word originates.

The word ikigai is composed of two Japanese words: iki (生き), which means ‘life’, and kai (甲斐), which roughly translates as ‘the realisation of what one expects and hopes for’.

Having ikigai means that you feel fulfilled and have a reason to get up in the morning. Even if it’s a dark morning, you’ll feel purposeful and balanced. Like this 100+ karate teacher.

Karate Master Uehara Seikichi - A 26-yr old student spars 96-yr old Karate Master Uehara Seikichi

Ikigai is a key component of a long and healthy life in addition to a plant-based diet, daily exercise and a strong sense of community. Okinawa’s population counts 50 centenarians per 100,000, compared to 5-10 in the US. They are healthy, independent and happy.

In fact, people do not retire in Okinawa. Instead, they belief that one should make life worth living no matter how old you are. You help others and continue to express your ikigai.

“Our ikigai evolves and transforms with us, just as much as the knowledge and identification of our ikigai transforms us.” Goju Karate

Everyone has an ikigai. So how do you find yours?

According to the Japanese, finding your ikigai requires a profound search of self, a natural and spontaneous process of self awareness.

ikigai diagram.001

The diagram shows how ikigai combines four key elements in life:

  • Passion
  • Mission
  • Profession
  • Vocation

Those four key elements in turn consist of the overlaps between:

  • That which you love
  • That which the world needs
  • That which you can be paid for
  • That which you are good at

Together these make up your ikigai, which evolves and transforms over time. All ikigai are equally important and powerful because by definition they are the reason of living for someone.

cherry-301253_1280

It is vital to our health and wellbeing that we find our ikigai. Yet it can be a challenging process to identify, refine your awareness, and clearly communicate your ikigai to yourself and others.

Life coaching can help with just this. I’m offering ikigai sessions in which we explore your purpose of life through guided visualisation and creative conversation.

Email me at julie@maitreecoaching.com if you’re interested in discovering your ikigai!

 

Heart Space: the magic of synchronicity


“Is it always like this or are we special?” asked one of the participants of the my latest retreat in Crete. I replied: “Both. It is always like this and it is always magical.” In the months leading up to the retreat I was observing the group coming together – some signed up months in advance, others cancelled last minute. Coincidence? Or is it a complex cosmic law that our limited understanding is (yet) unable to grasp?

11050285_10153456708621474_5756494883385179597_nIt has been two weeks since the end of the Joyful Living retreat in the remote village of Sfakia in the South of Crete. I’m still in awe of the perfect synchronicity – perhaps the best term for that complex cosmic law – that brought this group together. So are the participants who are already booking their flights for the reunion in October. One of them, a theatre producer from Zurich, writes: “I’m astonished at how open and warm we were in the group and this very quickly.” “It was a real joy to see how the group evolved into a small family in just the space of a few days!” shares Mouna, an interpreter from Paris.

The swift intimacy created after sometimes only a couple of hours is a marvel to most people attending my workshops and retreats. In my experience, connection and transformation happen when synchronicity enters the scene. Then meaningful coincidences start occurring, such as people find themselves working on a similar life purpose, or bringing an identical inspiring object to the workshop. Or I will intuitively share an experience which is deeply meaningful to one or more participants.

10960096_338628133003942_6718140125432231663_oTo trust in synchronicity is one of the cornerstones of being a transformational facilitator and coach. My coaching school CTI calls this skill ‘dancing in the moment.’ To surrender control initially feels counterintuitive because as a facilitator you are ‘doing nothing’ but following the flow of a session. Slowly you build trust that whatever is unfolding, is exactly what participants need in that very moment. When I feel I am working hard, I know now something is wrong!

In fact the only thing to ‘do’ as a facilitator is to role model how to interact with an open heart, a sensitive spirit, a curious mind and a flexible body. Thus you give the group permission to enter into a safe space. They respond by sharing the full spectrum of their humanity. It is as if in this ‘heart space’ we can uncover the strength of our vulnerability. We recognise each other’s stories of feeling intensely alive or of sabotaging our wildest dreams. By “taking the lid off ourselves” (‘The Heart of the Buddha‘ by Chogyam Trungpa, p6) we give each other permission to relax, be present, connect with our inner self and leave our unique footprint.

FullSizeRender

Occassionally I come across a group where the heart space is unstable. This usually indicates that one or more participants has become sceptical and closed their hearts. The crucial thing to do as a facilitator is to stay curious and avoid closing our heart in retaliation. Fear can easily make us defensive or judgemental. Yet when we stay open hearted we invite a participant to express their doubt and neutralise the impact. Mostly this is enough for the air to clear and for synchronicty to work its magic once again. I remain in awe.

Watch this space for my next piece on how flow and synchronicity are related to gut feeling.

5 tips to make an ordinary day extraordinary


Check out my article on online wellness magazine MindBodyGreen!

“Days come, days go. Some last an eternity, others fly by. Some are cheerful, others uneventful. Yet you can be sure that the sun and the moon will rise and set, that the birds will sing in the morning.

I used to have a busy corporate job in London. Once I learned to live my days mindfully, I noticed how I became much more relaxed. The days weren’t less stressful, but I wasn’t as stressed anymore. Instead, I was feeling grateful for my life.

I often help clients of my coaching practice improve their work-life balance. These five tips have helped them to anchor their days and have more fun. They gained time as they prioritized according to their values.

1. Wake up mindfully

[…] To read more click here.

 

Yoga and human development weekend retreats in Europe, summer 2014


Come and join me for one of four refreshing weekend retreats this summer in Europe!

imageInspired by the popular retreats in Auroville, South India, I’ll be facilitating three human development retreats in three places in Europe that are close to my heart.

I’m also super excited about co-facilitating a yoga coaching retreat weekend in London with the wonderful Laura Graham Dullaert (12-13th July, see more info below).

Through coaching, we distinguish our inner leader and saboteur voice, connect with our life purpose, and discover where we store our emotions in our body. Listening for the answers within, we create more awareness in our body, mind and soul, and how they’re connected.

The retreat will give you coaching tools so you can start using your listening capacity and intuition both with yourself and others. We’ll tune into that life affirming fulfillment energy so you can unlock your full potential. You’ll come away feeling refreshed and empowered.

Each retreat we’ll draw upon the beauty of the natural environment.

In the Provence, there’s the lavender fields and the gentle June sun. In the Cotswolds, there’s the ancient English forest and village life. In Amsterdam North, there’s the water, the boats and the harbour looking out over the busy city life from a distance.

Get in touch with me to reserve your place!

The lavender retreat, 28-29th June

image Bonnieux, Provence, France (1hr drive from Marseille airport) Explore your full potential in the fresh early summer in the Luberon. Sample the air filled with herbs, lavender and the gentle June sun. For more info, click here.

 

The green retreat, 19-20th July

imageLower Slaughter, Cotswolds, UK (1.5hr train drive from London Paddington) Retreat into the green forests and English village life. Rejuvenate and explore in a beautiful garden home. Register by 7th June to qualify for the early bird fee! For more info, click here.

The water retreat 16-17th August 

imageAmsterdam North, the Netherlands (location tbc, 30 min cycle ride from Amsterdam Central station) Jump on the ferry away from busy Amsterdam town and take in the quiet harbour perspective. See the sun or rain drops play with the water. Register by 19th July to qualify for the early bird fee!

Yoga and coaching retreat, 12-13th July

imageSynchronicity yoga studio, Clapham, London SW9 Join Laura and Julie for an urban retreat to build awareness in your body, mind and soul through yoga and coaching.

Laura and I have been working together for the past 10 months on fusing yoga and coaching. We’re super excited to share our learning with you on three key themes: listening, intuition and balance.

imageYoga and coaching invite you to listen to the conversations going on between your mind, body and soul. You learn to recognise the different voices and to find your own path, in your life and on the mat.

You start to become familiar with the voice of your intuition and how to use it to enhance your well being and your relationship with others. You learn to look after yourself, to trust yourself to create the yoga practice that you need.

Balancing the need for discipline that a daily practice requires, with adapting it according to your needs is the key to a sustainable, injury-free and joyful yoga. This integrity is exactly what we’re looking to achieve in life. We want to make empowered decisions which are in line with our values, instead of following what our circumstances dictate.

Check out Laura’s website to see the amazing teacher she is, making ashtanga yoga accessible, sustainable and a lot of fun! For more info, click here.
Register by 31st May to qualify for early bird fee.

About meditation


On Thursday I came out of a 5 day silent meditation retreat in the green mountains of Sri Lanka. I would like to share with you 5 insights I gained as many of my coaching clients are keen to keep up a regular meditation practice and lead more mindful lives.

I often work with clients on addressing the balance between being and doing. Meditation is a great antidote against our tendency to perceive ourselves as ‘human doings’ instead of ‘human beings’.

1. The middle way

20140307-130813.jpg

One of the challenges of meditation is finding the middle way between trying too hard and too little. The meditation instructor at the retreat explained that he generally taught Northern Europeans to reduce their current effort by 50%. Southern Europeans should reduce their effort by 25%, while Sri Lankans should increase their effort by 500%.

Meditating is like holding a little bird in our hands. If we squeeze to tightly, the bird will suffocate. If we hold it too loosely, the bird will fly away. The same goes for meditating. If we manage to walk the middle way, our mind neither suffocates nor does it fly away.


2. Clarity

20140307-130826.jpg

Meditation is not about fighting the mind, it’s about taming it.  We cultivate the mind’s power of concentration. From a ‘monkey’ mind which jumps all over the place, it becomes stronger and sees more clearly. We experience more peace and mindfulness.

During meditation we all struggle with aches, boredom, or endless thoughts. Meditating is not about torturing the body and punishing the mind. Gently bringing the mind back to the breath is a more effective approach than scolding it. As long as our back is straight, we can meditate in any seated position, cross-legged or on a chair. Mind and body should be relaxed, although there is another paradox to consider: not being a slave of your body’s aches nor of your minds’ wanderings.

3. Impermanence

20140307-130849.jpg

A regular meditation practice enables us to be more present to the now. We can leave behind memories of the past, worries about the future. Instead of daydreaming, there’s the joy of the present moment. There’s the daring to embrace the beauty of now, and trusting ourselves that whatever happens in the next moment, we will manage just fine.

The moment always changes, and so will our thoughts, emotions. Making friends with impermanence, is a powerful and courageous thing to do. It means that we allow the wind of change to blow through us. We experience beauty, happiness and joy as much as we allow ourselves to feel sadness, loss because we know there will always be change.

4. Flow

20140307-130842.jpgThere are two ways to relate to emotions. Either we repress and control them, or we express and indulge them. Instead, in meditation we attempt to just create space for them, to experiment, to make friends.

One of the things I focus on in my coaching sessions is to enable clients’ emotions to flow so that they are e(nergy) in motion. This way, emotions don’t get stuck in our bodies, and all our energy is freely available to follow our life course.

5. Consciousness

20140307-130854.jpg

If we imagine ourselves in a sailing boat setting course for the other side of a lake, we need to learn how to navigate the wind, the currents of the lake and our little boat. An enlightened being is able to reach his destination without diverging, while most of us get blown off course regularly.

Coaching and other forms of therapy and meditation, allow us to become more conscious of our life course and choices. We also learn from our past mistakes to navigate more accurately.

The benefits of a regular meditation practice are worth it. For me, the glimpse of a blissful calm lighting up around my third eye chakra is enough to make my morning. After the retreat, I feel a steady, nourished feeling in my stomach which stays with me all day. Even after standing for two hours in a overcrowded Sri Lankan train!

India, land of paradox


This blog post is the first in a new series of coaching articles. I hope you’ll enjoy the new focus and insights of iliketothinkabout!

ipad_upload_23D5025B_99B0_4ABE_BEBA_9B13222D866C

Living in India is a great reminder of the power of paradox. I love paradoxes because embracing them creates so much new energy and possibilities in my own life. And I often work wit

h clients on discovering how they may hold themselves back by self limiting beliefs.

Predominantly Hindu, India is also the second largest Muslim country in the world. It’s daily life is infused with spirituality, yet there is a strong atheist tradition dating back to the early Middle Ages. It’s poor, and yet immensely rich. It’s chaotic and dirty, yet beautifully pure and quiet.

ipad_upload_D56DEAA1_1111_41A0_BCD6_29A77A591004

There’s a great lesson in this. Having no option but to embrace paradox, we have to accept that two extremes can exist at the same time. And life becomes much simpler. Why waste energy arguing that it’s this or that when it can be both at the same?

However, our mind seems keen to keep things black and white. If you love one person, then you cannot love another. If you want to have money, you cannot be an artist. If you lead a spiritual life, you cannot have doubts. If you want a family, you cannot start your own business.

ipad_upload_08908148_D110_416F_950D_A599D4DEF1F8

These are some examples of topics clients have brought to recent coaching sessions. All of them are apparent contradictions, or ‘collapses’ in coaching speak. A collapse happens when our mind identifies two separate things as the same. By believing this we hold ourselves back. The realisation that this is happening, is often enough to create fresh energy and new perspectives.

Giving ourselves permission to accept the simple truth that we can love two people at the same time, that we can be a rich artist, a doubtful believer, a dad entrepreneur – it’s liberating and often reveals a straightforward next step to take.

1560752_10152242468336474_1131058999_n

Last week I facilitated a workshop on fulfillment, that resonant, life affirming energy that opens up so much possibility. We talked about how simple fulfilment really is, and yet how complex we make it out to be.

The simplicity is about noticing what is going on, right here, right now, and creating from there. To recognise your feelings and intentions and act upon them. If you like someone, tell them, if you want something, say it. A simple message of true intent untangles a web of assumptions, of scenarios of potential rejection, failure, elation etc.

The next step is yet another paradox: letting go of attachment to the outcome of your truest intention. Instead, enjoy expressing yourself truly, which is a great gift and takes courage. It’s the joy of living your life according to your values.

1380613_10152005020646474_233061482_n

The balancing act is worth it. It’s about truly holding both extremes at the same time: ‘I’m expressing what is in my heart of hearts’, and yet, ‘I’m observing how life aligns itself around that desire’. The most important goal then is not gratification, or happiness. Instead, fulfilment lies in the journey of growth.