FAQ on mindfulness, mindfulness-based coaching and stress management
Some frequently asked questions can be found below. The answers give an overview about my mindfulness-based coaching. Please contact me in order to answer your individual questions and to advise you further on my work.
Mindfulness has two overlapping and interrelated meanings:
Mindfulness is a natural and optimal state of mind and body, in which mind and body are in complete balance. In this state, as the word 'mindfulness' makes clear, we are able to be awake, attentive, and happy from moment to moment concerning ourselves and our environment. We do not experience psychological stress. We are able to direct and focus our concentration willingly. We feel flexibility, lightness, and well-being, both mentally and physically. Mindfulness is accompanied by energy, resolution, confidence, calmness, and physical and mental tranquillity. We all know such states, which, however, often are dependent on optimal outer and inner conditions, which allow us to let go into the moment entirely. As soon as optimal outer or inner conditions are not present (anymore) – for example, if we are under pressure or have physical pain – it may be very difficult for us to stay mindful. We may accumulate unhealthy stress, which makes the situation even worse.
Mindfulness, or mindfulness meditation, is a meditation practice, which helps us to live in the state of mindfulness more and more. In mindfulness meditation we train to connect with helpful and healthy inner resources and to strengthen them. We learn to reflect our view of ourselves and our world view. This means that we are more and more able to recognise and understand, and to learn to label, our behaviour patterns and habits. Mindfulness practice enables us to let go more and more of attributes that cause us stress and suffering. We strengthen attributes that result in happiness and well-being. Through mindfulness we thus become the active and free creator of our life.
In mindfulness meditation we train mainly tree things: relaxation, concentration, and insight. Insight means a better understanding of the interplay of the mind and body. Relaxation and concentration are mutually dependent. In mindfulness meditation we learn to focus our concentration willingly. From moment to moment we try to concentrate on those things, on which we actually want to concentrate. This concentration on the present results in mental and physical relaxation. At the same time it is not possible to be relaxed without being concentrated on the moment in this way. We learn to realise more consciously what happens from moment to moment in our mind and body and how our experience is related to how we feel. In this way we learn to become more relaxed. We consciously foster experiential qualities that are accompanied by well-being and happiness. At the same time we learn to let go of things that distract our concentration on the present moment and make us unhappy. Based on this relaxation and concentration deeper insight develops. We understand more and more how our experience occurs from moment to moment based on the interplay of mind and body. This understanding enables us purposefully to strengthen those experiential qualities that are important for us and make us happy. Mindfulness works, because we understand better what is necessary for a happy life and how we can cultivate and further develop our potential for well-being and happiness from moment to moment. Mindfulness makes us more independent, freer, and more capable to see our life in the way it actually is from one moment to the next.
Mindfulness is an at least 2,500-year-old meditation practice, which plays an essential role in different religions and philosophies. Especially in the teachings of the Buddha, it is described in detail. Already at that time mindfulness was developed as a training for mind and body. It was used as a practice for both mental and physical well-being. Mindfulness has been introduced in secularised form since the 1970s into Western health systems with great success. At first mindfulness was mainly employed in the medical field, for example in the work with chronic pain patients. Later psychological mindfulness-based interventions were developed. Beyond its therapeutic applications mindfulness today is a training for mind and body that is utilised in various professional areas, especially in connection to stress management and optimising performance – such as in advising and coaching of executives and competitive athletes. For more and more people mindfulness is the practice to unfold and cultivate their inner potential. For many people it is also the practice for spiritual self-realisation. Ultimately it is less the question of the area of application, but the question how mindfulness can be integrated into all areas of life. Mindfulness is a practice through which we learn to understand life better. We can respond more consciously and better to challenges in life. My mindfulness-based coaching takes this dimension into account.
Today it can be proved with well validated scientific data that mindfulness works. To mention just some examples from the field of meditation research: Mindfulness has a positive influence on the immune system, heart rate variability (HRV), blood pressure, and sleep quality. It slows down ageing processes of the brain. It strengthens the ability to conscious stress reduction and conscious relaxation. It enhances concentration. It has a general positive effect on our mental and physical well-being. Through mindfulness meditation we improve our work and leadership qualities, social competence, and work-life balance. There are many further specific effects of mindfulness depending on the goals that are pursued with the practice. However, in connection to mindfulness the evidence that the meditator him- or herself can draw from the practice appears to be much more important than scientific data. Mindfulness practice is about taking full responsibility for our life. Each client him- or herself should critically test whether the practice actually works for him or her. Mostly a client will notice the effects of mindfulness already after some hours of meditation when instructed, advised, and accompanied by an expert. The reason for the societal success of mindfulness is without doubt based on the fact that the multiple effects of this kind of meditation can be proved scientifically. However, it is even more important that people themselves feel the effects of this meditation clearly and that they can test the effects directly in their own experience and well-being.
The word 'coach' comes from French coche and Hungarian kocsi (szekér), '(carriage) from Kocs'. Originally it denotes a closed horse-drawn carriage (one of the meanings of 'coach' in English) such as first produced in the Hungarian town of Kocs. This etymology fits very well to the main idea in both coaching and mindfulness meditation. In coaching the coach accompanies the coachee (client) along his or her own way. He provides psychological techniques, perspectives, and reflections that enable the clients to reach their own goals in the best possible way. He helps his clients to uncover their full potential, which due to certain circumstances is not fully accessible to them. In mindfulness meditation also nothing is added to life that is not already there. Every person already has the potential for mindfulness and its positive effects on the mind and body within him- or herself. Mindfulness meditation is the psychological technique that uncovers this potential more and more. Mindfulness-based coaching, hence, is about reaching specific goals with the help of the technique of mindfulness meditation. Each of my mindfulness-based coachings deals individually with the situation and aims of the clients. Mindfulness-based coaching is the direct way to uncovering our potentials to realise fully the things that are really important to us in life with the help of mindfulness meditation.
What does 'stress' and 'stress management' mean in connection to mindfulness-based coaching?
From the point of view of mindfulness, stress and its associated suffering arise by responding to situations from habitual patterns and habits rather than from our intuitively felt potential. We actually know or feel which reaction, or way of acting in life from moment to moment, would be right for us. However, we cannot fully implement it because of our learned patterns and habits of dealing with ourselves and our world. Once stress is there we also lose the connection between mind and body. It is no longer possible for us to be relaxed and attentive in the present situation. For example, we do not feel that our mental involvement into the stress situation makes us physically tense, breathe wrongly, and thus makes it difficult to resolve the situation. In worse stress situations something like a stress spiral with clearly noticeable physiological and psychological effects may develop. The reactions to the stress do not reduce the stress but increase it more and more. In mindfulness-based coaching stress management or coping with stress means that we use the technique of mindfulness meditation to understand more and more in detail the formation of stress in the mind and body. Based on this it is possible for us to counteract consciously with the help of mindfulness. The more we feel mindfulness in the mind and body, the easier it is for us to maintain psychological flexibility even in stressful situations. We can better observe ourselves and choose helpful behaviour (stress coping), even though learned patterns may lead us in a direction that ultimately would make the stress worse. In this way through mindfulness we can become the person we really want to be and overcome behaviour patterns that obstruct this development more and more.
How does a mindfulness-based individual coaching unfold?
A mindfulness-based individual coaching involves four phases: an introductory phase, a goal clarification and goal agreement phase, a deepening and implementation phase, as well as an integration and completion phase. These phases do not have to be linear. In fact, the four phases are included in different forms in each coaching session. Successful coaching (the achievement of the goals agreed with the client) requires the conclusion of all phases.
Introductory phase: In the introductory phase it is clarified whether mindfulness-based coaching is suitable for the client's concerns. In addition to getting to know each other personally it is about getting to know or reflecting on the method of mindfulness meditation. A successful start of a mindfulness-based individual coaching means that the client has the intention to reflect (his or her) mindfulness more consciously and to integrate it into his or her life.
Goal clarification and goal agreement phase: Goal clarification is a crucial part of any coaching. It determines the course of the coaching. In the course of a coaching goals may be specified or they may change. Hence, it is crucial that the goal agreement is reflected time and again and the course of the coaching is brought into line with this.
Deepening and implementation phase: In this phase the client deepens his knowledge of mindfulness meditation step by step. He or she implements mindfulness practice more and more in his or her life.Mindfulness-inspired experiential and behavioural modifications are consciously perceived and used. In the coaching sessions I lead this process in a purposeful manner and accompany it.
Integration and completion phase: Mindfulness has become an integrated part of the client's life that is clearly noticeable in the body. Mindfulness can be used flexibly according to the wishes of the client. This phase is about reflecting on a meaningful and concrete way of continuing practicing mindfulness and then implementing this action plan.
One session (90 min) of mindfulness-based individual coaching usually includes 45 min of dedicated client-oriented guided meditation practice in several parts and 45 min of coaching in conversation.
How does a mindfulness-based group coaching unfold?
A mindfulness-based group coaching also follows the four phases explained in the answer to the previous question on mindfulness-based individual coaching: 1. introductory phase, 2. goal clarification and goal agreement phase, 3. deepening and implementation phase, 4. integration and completion phase. Mindfulness-based group coachings differ depending on the size, composition, and relationship structure of the group. It often makes sense for mindfulness-based group coaching to define exactly the goals and the course of the coaching before starting the coaching process. Precise pre-structuring can be helpful in achieving the goals for the group as best as possible within the structure chosen by the customer. For example, for businesses, organisations, and institutions pre-structured mindfulness-based group coachings that I offer over 10 weeks (1 session per week) are a good option for clients to learn to integratemindfulness-based stress management into their work processes. Other formats, for example block sessions, are useful for mindfulness-based group coaching as well. The coaching character also distinguishes such pre-structured formats. Each of my mindfulness-based group coachings is individually tailored to the needs and goals of the clients. The group is an active part of the coaching process. The special focus on learning processes and change processes through mindfulness meditation, which is particularly crucial for successful stress management, characterises my mindfulness-based group coachings. One session (90 min) of mindfulness-based group coaching usually includes 45 min of dedicated client-oriented guided meditation practice in several parts and 45 minutes of coaching in conversation.