What is Zen Coaching?
Zen Coaching is a powerful approach to living, with a set of understanding and principles for how to support ourselves and others in coming home to our true nature, grow as human beings and to live and act from that recognition.
The starting point of Zen Coaching lies in our natural wish to be fully who we are, and to be genuine, authentic and sincere with ourselves and others. As a coaching approach it unites the focus on reaching outer goals – a key characteristic of traditional coaching – with a deeper inner focus than what is normally found within coaching.
The approach is built upon basic mindfulness principles, or conscious presence. It is also based on an exploration of limiting beliefs, and on our true inner resources. The main method is the practice of inquiry – an inner, focused exploration based on specific questions and a supporting listening practice.
The ‘goal’ of Zen Coaching is achievable right here, right now – simply by noticing, allowing and fully experience our experience in this moment. There is no need to wait, no need to seek fulfillment in the future. Fulfillment, ease and wisdom is the essence of whatever experience we are having right here, right now.
How is it used?
Zen Coaching is offered as individual coaching sessions, workshops, webinars, seminars and as a coaching method in the Zen Coaching Training. It is also a supportive inner approach and style of self-coaching that can be integrated as we live our daily lives.
The purpose of Zen Coaching
The main purpose is to support ourselves and others in recognizing our own nature as awareness, and all the essential qualities of awareness, such as freedom, love, strenght, creativity and spaciousness. Through this recognition we become less identified with mental positions and negative judgments of ourselves and others, and more free to live in strength, peace and positive contribution to ourselves and others.
The threefold purpose
1. The intention:
to recognize and live my nature as essence; as free, spacious awareness
2. The practise:
to explore and practise ways of supporting myself and others in recognizing and living our true nature as essence; as free spacious awareness
3. The community of friends:
to be part of a network of friends who practise living as essence, as awareness; for enjoyment and mutual support
BenefitsZen Coaching helps us in connecting more deeply with ourselves and our true source of power, wisdom and creativity. It does this by supporting us in discovering the power of relaxing into the present, and in experiencing the ease and fulfillment of living in effortless flow.
We discover how, more and more, we can respond with wisdom rather than react on automatic pilot, even in challenging situations. Those who take part in the Zen Coaching training learn how to discover or deepen their ability to help people transform blocks and release their potential through quality listening and simple, powerful questions.
This benefits all areas of life – our relationship with ourselves and others, success in our working life, our capacity in acting in leadership roles, our health, and much more. It also includes living life more according to our heart´s calling; living more of our true potential, with greater confidence, creativity, effectiveness and ease; clearer and more inspiring communication and leadership abilities, and much more.
The 5 main principles of Zen Coaching
Living as Presence, Living as Essence
Zen Coaching is a powerful approach to living that is supported by the following understanding and main principles. When integrated in our lives, they have a profound effect on how we relate to ourselves and others.
- Listening from inner spaciousness
Zen Coaching is listening in the form of an open, spacious, accepting and allowing presence, based mainly on silence, open questions and verbal reflections. In this way the life process of the client has space to unfold according to its own movement and wisdom.
- Helping through non-helping
As coaches we do not primarily seek to fix, guide or even to help the other, but rather to provide support through simple presence, Being-Here, resting as awareness, and simple and innocent curiosity.
- Empathic connection
The main focus of the coach is to offer empathic listening: to stay present to what is alive right now in the client (and also in the coach herself or himself).
- Support in connecting deeply with ourselves
It is a premise of Zen Coaching that THE basic need or longing of all human beings is to be connected with ourselves, and to rest as the awareness that we are – to be our true nature as Peace, Freedom, Love, Strength, Value and so on. All perceived problems manifest out of a disconnection with who we truly are. Problems dissolve as we connect deeply with ourselves.
When the coach is grounded in the above principles, he or she can use many different techniques that are helpful to find our inner resources and see our possibilities.
- Listening from inner spaciousness
Zen Coaching was founded in 2005 by Kåre Landfald from Norway. He developed the approach with inspiration from many sources including the Zen Buddhist approach of Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh, Nonviolent Communication as developed by Marshall B Rosenberg, the Diamond Approach as developed by A.H. Almaas, as well as the modern coaching tradition. The students in workshops and trainings also contributed significantly to the evolution of the approach.
The first Zen Coaching workshop was held at a retreat centre in Sweden in 2005 and courses still continue there today. Over the years Zen coaching expanded as founder Kåre Landfald and senior coach Tine Vindelov carried the training into Norway, Denmark, Poland and South Africa. Today there is an international network of hundreds of coaches and upcoming teachers who offer seminars, individual coaching and other events in many countries around the world and in different languages.
Kåre Landfald about Zen Coaching: Kåre Landfald, founder of Zen Coaching on the question:
What is Zen Coaching?
Zen Coaching Approach
Who am I? What am I here for?We are born perfect as an expression of Being, and with total access to the strength and joy of Being. We were then programmed or conditioned out of this inner connection, and came to believe that we are not quite okay, that we are flawed in one way or the other. We started feeling that something is missing, that something is wrong about us, that we need to change and improve, and that we need to strive, effort, struggle, and live up to outer expectations to get what we are looking for in life.We consequently spend much energy and money trying to ‘fix’ ourselves. The deeper questions of Who am I?, What am I here for?, and What is my true gift? tend to never get fully answered.
All great teachers tell us that what we seek lie within ourselves, but how many of us ever really get to know that experientially? The good news is that our essence, our true being, is not something difficult to find. It is available right here, right now, simply by allowing and relaxing into whatever experience we are having in this moment – whether pleasant, unpleasant or neutral.
Rather than ‘fix the blocks’ which keep us from expressing who we truly are, the Zen Coaching approach is to experience them for what they are — portals and mirrors to our true nature, which lays trapped beneath them. More than a simple coaching technique to help you get what you want, Zen Coaching helps you to see and access your own inner power and wisdom, and from that place, to support others to do the same.
Staying open to our experience – even when it is challengingZen Coaching supports us to stay open with our experience – even when it is challenging. Most of us are conditioned to avoid pain and discomfort at all costs. Pain is something to be killed – thus ‘pain-killers’.Behind emotional pain lies suppressed longings of the heart. By embracing and saying ‘yes’ to fully experience these longings, we discover that they become portals to inner peace, strength, love, and all else we seek in life.
One of the main practices of Zen Coaching is to develop our capacity to stay open to challenging feelings. Usually there is resistance to doing that. Instead of pushing through resistance, the Zen Coaching approach is to understand and allow also the resistance.
Zen Coaching is very now-centered. In the experience of presence, we discover that our problems dis-solve and disappear rather than get solved, simply through being allowingly present in the now.
Avoiding dependency on the coachThe Coach is not an ‘expert’ but a beginner. She or he is someone who offers the innocent curiosity of a beginner´s mind to the experience of every moment, and looks at and points at the strength and wisdom of the client. Zen Coaching avoids dependency by the client on the coach by always pointing to the inner resources and answers of the client. The client also learns to access the techniques or principles themselves in daily life, thus reducing dependency on external sources of support. The essence of Zen Coaching is to liberate us from external refuges and resources, and to find instead the answers and powers within ourselves.