Stop Living a Compromise – Interview with Kåre Landfald

By Patrycja Załug


Patrycja Załug: We are meeting at the end of the year and I know, that as a coach you love asking questions, so what was the question that was the most alive in you this year?

Kare Landfald: The most alive question lately has been how to live my daily live in the best way. How can each day be lived in line with my deepest intention? How can I create a daily life that balances my deepest needs and priorities in the best way?
PZ: Very here and now question. You are the founder of Zen Coaching and “here and now” is one of the main pillars of this method. On the web page you also mention that Zen Coaching helps living a life at ease, in flow, in peace. Sounds amazing, but is it really possible to live like that?

KL: Well, it’s more like a scale, from zero to hundred. When you have zero, you have no peace, and when you have one hundred, you have total peace. Most people are some place in between. And also it’s different in different situations. So for most people, there are certain situations that stress us more than others. So it is a whole journey to discover how to live in peace in different areas of life. So I think it is a life practice. And also it is important to remember the difference between the peace of emotions and the peace of being, of essence.  A peace of being is a deeper peace. So there may be some disturbance in emotions, but I can still be in touch with a deeper peace. So to live in peace and at ease – it means also when life is chaotic, I am in touch with a deeper peace within, so I can trust in life. I am okay with difficulties, so this is the ease and peace I am talking about. It is not a life without difficulties, it is a life where I have deeper trust that also difficulties are okay.

PZ: How do you enter this space of deeper inner peace?

KL: As I see it, there are two things to consider. One is to each moment take a breath and ask myself where am I now. To stop and breathe, be conscious of where I am, what is going on. Because if I am conscious in the moment then I can access the deeper place of peace. If I am not conscious, it is as if I am grabbed and pushed around by life. So the first thing is always to keep stopping and breathing, to be here, to slow down a little bit. And to ask, what is most important right now. That is this first step.

And when I do that, I can say „yes” to my feelings. So if I say „yes” to my feelings, even if it is uncomfortable, then I can discover more peace. When I am fighting with my feelings, there is more stress. So stop, breathe, ask what is most important right now and say „yes” to whatever I am experiencing. That is the magic formula for discovering deeper peace in the moment. It is a very simple principle, but maybe hard to remember.

But there is also another aspect, and the other aspect is: Are you following your heart in your life or are you living a compromise? So are you doing what really is the most valuable thing for you? Are you following your vision, your passion, your heart? Are you in tune with what is valuable for you? So if you are not doing that, if you are constantly living a compromise, then it is hard to find peace. Then following the heart, the passion, it requires some contemplation and courage. Because what most people do are living up to what is expected from them. I am expected to live like this, I am expected to live like that and I don’t want to disappoint my husband, my wife, my children, my parents, my society. But we have to be ready to disappoint other people in order to live our own passion, vision, in order to follow our own heart.

PZ: I think we also look for safety. And sometimes we are stuck in a job that we don’t like, because we think this is safer than to follow our heart.

KL: To have safety as number one, means living a compromise. So when you choose safety as a first priority, then you are already living a compromise. So you cannot be fully alive, you cannot follow your passion if you have safety as number one. The heart cannot have safety as a number one. Of course some safety is good and necessary, but if it is a first priority you will compromise what is more important. External safety is a means, not an end.

 PZ: What is your first priority?

KL: I think again it is two things. One is to always stop and be where I am – it is the first priority. So right now I am sitting on the sofa, breathing, I am talking with you, I am feeling the fresh air, I am noticing my body, I am here. This is the first priority; to be where I am and to feel what I feel. But then there is another first priority. To live what I feel is important, and to give what is important to give. And for me that is everything I do with Zen Coaching. In a bigger picture, the first priority for me is to contribute the gift of Zen Coaching to the world. And of course, on a personal level, it is to live in the moment, moment by moment. So again it is about following my heart, giving my gifts, living what I feel is the most valuable. So that is in the bigger picture and in the smaller or more immediate, it is to really be in the moment, to really recognize that life is what is happening right here, right now.

PZ: What is the main gift of Zen Coaching?

KL: When I talked about (above) how to live in peace, at ease and in flow, these are some indications. But there are other words also … to live in freedom, love, in strength, creativity, compassion. So the main gift of Zen Coaching is to help people to live from essence, in essence, as essence or being. We can use different words: essence, being, presence, love, but to live these qualities in life with each other, to find a fulfillment, be in touch with all this and to be in the contribution to other people and the world. It is the meaning of life to be in touch with these qualities, to live them with each other. If you look at the world, there is a lot of trouble in many places. And trouble is always when people are not in touch with these qualities, are not living these qualities. That is the source of all problems, frustration or conflict, war. The root source of wellbeing on the planet are compassion, love, collaboration. It is how to live a fulfilling life individually and collectively, being in touch with these qualities. So Zen Coaching is a way to do that.

PZ: I love when you ask this question: “What do you long for?”. I remember the first time I heard it and I tried answering it. It was amazing how this question could really help in connecting deeper to ourselves. Then I started to share it during workshops and usually people were really touched by this question. It seemed they really connected deeper to themselves. But for some of them, it was really scary to go deep inside. How do you encourage people to trust and to dive deep into themselves?

KL: As I said before, it requires courage. It requires courage to follow our heart. It can be very scary, so depending on your childhood situation it is more or less scary for different people. First of all I think that we have to respect that it is scary for people, and that it can be challenging, so we go step by step, and depending on the person, the steps can be faster and bigger or smaller and slower. It is unique for each individual. And the people can go the speed they can go, we cannot push anybody. We can only be an inspiration. It means that the deeper we can go in ourselves, the easier it will be for us to inspire others. So again, the main focus should be on how deep can I go myself. Because the deeper I can go and the more present I can be, the easier it will be for me to be skillful, to inspire others.

In a workshop for instance, or in a coaching session‚ there are ways that you can make something more safe. In the beginning you do more safe things, you can do inquiry on what is trust for instance. You can do simple exercises that are not so scary. And then as you have built trust and confidence, you can do more challenging things, step by step. That is how I often do that, I go softly. My experience is that if you go softly you can go far quite fast.

I had one participant lately, in a weekend workshop, and she expected it to be really tough, because she had a crisis in her life and she was ready to meet many difficult emotions. And when the weekend was over, she just had a big smile and she said „wow, that was amazing, I found myself, I found my heart, joy, trust, I did not have to face any difficult emotions”. Sometimes it is not necessary. She was very surprised. We all have to face difficult emotions, that is the part of the journey. Everything that we have suppressed or repressed, we will have to meet. But my approach is always to first help people be in touch with the presence, because that will give the strength and the trust. So it is quite easy to have a touch of presence through a question like „What do you long for?” for instance. „What is trust?”, „What is love” or to just let people listen to each other for ten minutes without speaking and very quickly people experience „wow”. It is very satisfying for them.

PZ: And for me it is also about the quality of deep contact between the people in such an exercise.

KL: There is such a big thirst for authentic contact.

PZ: During your workshop – I was at the end of the last year – we did an exercise about finding three qualities that we would like to experience during the next year. Now, the year has passed and I see that it really worked. I am curious, from your perspective, how such a simple thing can really work in life?

KL: I had forgotten about that exercise. I am happy that you reminded me. So it really worked?

PZ: Yes.

KL: I call that the power of intention. Because you make a deep intention which is different from having a goal. It is like a mantra. You honor what is most important in your life, you let your heart be the guide. And the heart is very soft, but also very powerful. So if you allow your heart to be the leader, you honor that that these qualities are the most important, and then the heart will find a way to deliver these qualities. So it is simply to let the heart be the leader and not the thinking mind, because these qualities are never far away, but we forget it because we let the thinking mind be the boss. That is why I think it works. I honor my heart as a boss, then what I long for starts to become alive very fast.

PZ: And what is this „heart”?

KL: The heart I mean is the spiritual aspect of us, the being, the presence, the deeper qualities that we are. So it is the being, presence, soul, spiritual qualities, you can call it many things. So when I am saying the heart now, I mean these things.

PZ: Is there any spiritual practice you do every day?

KL: I am not a very disciplined person when it comes to spiritual practices at regular times. During some periods I have a daily meditation and yoga practice. Other periods not. But my main practice is what I mentioned earlier, all through the day, to stop, notice my breath, ask what is happening now, what are my feelings, what is the most important. This is my main practice. This is what I do any moment throughout the day. So it is more an ongoing practice. The way I walk; am I conscious when I am walking, am I breathing, do I notice where I am, can I taste my teeth? So I am relaxing, being in touch with the present moment, sensing that I exist, that I am. This is the main practice. I don’t think of it as a practice even. It is just being in the experience of life. Not being too focused on reaching a future goal.

PZ: One of the slogans of Zen Coaching is „effortless transformation” and I think thousands of people long for change to happen just like that, easy, without effort and work. And I am curious from your experience, is it really possible to make a change or transformation, especially inner transformation  really effortless?

KL: Also this is a big thing. Number one I say effortless, not painless. When people say effortless they often mean painless, but this is not true. You may need to face pain. I would say, any deep transformation is effortless. Because transformation happend by surrendering – not by doing. It is only when you actually surrender that the change can happen. I would say any transformation in its essence is effortless. However sometimes we need to use effort to reach effortlessness. Because it is like a journey of discovering what effortless transformation is and how it is possible. Because what we have learnt is to do, do, do and do. So we are used to doing so much and struggling and making effort.

PZ: And to give inspiration for this effortless transformation – if we could imagine a person that is thinking about some change in life, for instance changing job, what is the main thing that is good to be aware of to enter this effortless transformation?

KL: Well, the first important thing to remember is that any important transformation happens inside, not outside. So more important than changing the job is to change attitude to work. Sometimes if my focus is on changing something external, I will not discover effortless transformation because my focus is in the wrong place. Step one, I need to focus on internal shift, so maybe letting go of trying to change external reality for some moments. Second step could be to go into what I am actually feeling in my emotions and in my body. If you give yourself five minutes to completely feel every emotion and every physical sensation one hundred percent. Then do the same with the question: “What do I most long for?”

And then allow that answer to work on you for ten minutes without thinking about the answer. So it could be a fifteen minutes´ practice. Five minutes to go inside, to notice every emotion, every physical sensation and allow it to be completely, one hundred percent, felt, including any resistance you have against emotions and sensations. If you do that for five minutes, then ask, what do I long for most deeply and then allow the answer to have its effect on you for ten minutes. Then you have a fifteen minutes´ practice. Do this for two days and see what happens. Then maybe you will have a taste of effortless transformation.

PZ: In March the 4th edition of the Zen Coaching training in Poland will take place. Who can benefit from participating in the training?

KL: The training is really a personal transformation program, so it is for anybody who is interested in living more deeply their true nature, who they really are. And number two, one who wants to support others in doing the same. So it is really for people who have a passion for it and not to get a coaching certificate. If you are only interested in a coaching certificate, then it is probably not the right thing. But if you really want a deep personal impact and support others in something that has very much to do with the heart, then it is the thing. So all kinds of people can join: young people, old people, business people, therapists, psychologists. It is really about what your passion is, what your heart longs for. If your heart longs for deep self-connection, authentic connection with others, deep transformation, healing, dwelling into power, finding the presence and essence – then the training is good for you. It will also support all your relationships, in your family, with your children, at work, as a boss. It is also a very strong relationship training. Of course, it is a powerful coach method as well.

PZ: And what is the main power of this method?

KL: I have been coaching so many people now for ten years and I have almost never had a session, when people have not left the session, one hour, being more confident, more optimistic, more hopeful, than when they began the session. Every single session has its effect on people. They become more optimistic, relaxed, powerful, more satisfied, more in touch with themselves. And then I also get feedback that it works in a longer perspective, not only in the moment. So basically it works every time.

We can use different words: essence, being, presence, love, but to live these qualities in life with each other, to find a fulfillment, to be in touch with all this and to be in the contribution to other people and the world.

PZ: When I experienced Zen Coaching session the main quality for me was that I felt hundred percent  acceptance and really space for me to connect to myself. I remember that this connection to myself was so nourishing.

KL: That is the nourishment of the essence of being.

PZ: Well said. Thank you very much.

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