The conversation is increasingly becoming a confrontation that divides, destroys, separate us from each other. Politicians who bring hostility and aggression to the debate are in the middle of it: to defeat the opponent at all costs, to spread them out and jump on them, triumphing over them.
The quality of the conversation starts with intention.
If my goal is to prove my worth or the superiority of my right over yours, I will not listen to you. From your speech, I will only extract what will help me to promote myself or defeat you, and my weapon will be spoken words that will make me flash, diminish you or make fun of you.
If I want to take a step in your direction and understand you better, listening full of respect, curiosity and trust comes to the fore. Speaking loses its momentum, if it appears it`s kind.
Which intention to choose, what kind of conversation?
Through a conversation of confrontation, I isolate myself, bring fear and suffering, destroying relationships with people which live only through exchange. The violent communication in the long run serves no one.
A conversation full of mindful and empathic listening brings peace, lightness and a sense of connection. As a result, it is more effective in the micro and macro scale of social life.
How can you listen in a mindful and empathic way?
I started with that I stopped interrupting, it's a minimum program. When I listened, I tried to understand what my daughter was talking about, what her perspective was, what was important to her and what emotions accompanied her. I kept my resolve not to lecture, not to criticize, not to give advice.
Simple, but not easy at first, so I'd rather call out: "Let's start learning to listen!"
Another year I look at the announcements and advertisements in the media before Christmas and I have a feeling of some unrealism. Family, family, family. We meet at Christmas Eve dinner, but in the real life, for many of us, this is where the problem begins. On breakfast TV we can find out what to do to stay with the family at the same table, because it is a real feat. How to pacify conflicts, avoid inappropriate questions, bravely respond to aggressive taunts, be assertive.
From this emerges a picture completely not idyllic, but rather a minefield and a challenge.
The family, the highest good and insurance policy in case something happens. But at the same time a group of people with whom it is impossible to be oneself, with whom it is difficult to talk frankly, who must be confronted, withstand their presence.
The magic of Christmas is that until the zero hour, when we sit at the table, we allow ourselves to be drawn into a marketing magical game because we do miss authentic relationships, warmth and understanding and we want to believe that a family is more than just helping in the most difficult cases.
What does a brave girl long for? What is missing in her life, that she gives the world the responsibility of a mature man? However, her bravery is not a choice, but a necessity.
If she has a roof over her head, food and clothing, that's all she can count on in her family home. She learns the world by herself, just as she learns how to deal with every new situation. She does not get support when she is experiencing difficulties, danger, anxiety or loss. That is why a brave girl suffers from loneliness.
She is only noticed and appreciated when she does something brave. She will organize, calm down, deliver, help and manage. This becomes her identity and the meaning of life - to be at disposal and to do. She does not ask for help, nor does she require anything for herself, because she simply does not know it.
A brave girl grows into a brave woman. She takes care of her family or performs professional tasks in the same way. She doesn't see herself, she doesn't value herself, she doesn't know she has needs, she's so busy dealing with everyone's affairs and dealing with every adversity. Life provides an opportunity to be brave every now and then, because it is a series of challenges, struggles and efforts, and there is nothing light or joyful about it.
She will not get help from anyone, although she will take on all the responsibility and the burden. She will not hear a word of gratitude or understanding.
In a way, we'll approve the misery of the child, applauding in a sincere admiration.
I've been trying to free myself from that fate for over a decade and I'm learning to live differently. When I hear the applause for a brave girl, I feel compassion and my heart hurts.
"We have a problem" - were the first words I heard from my 92-year-old mother when I visited her. The fact that her very grown-up relative started seeing a younger man caused her anxiety and compulsion to do something about it. I would have laughed if I hadn't seen that my mother was really worried and helpless.
I started a conversation with the hope that if she told me everything that was in her heart, I would understand what was going on. But none of the questions helped to get to the source of her anxiety. I tried to use imagination: "See, she is happy now", "She can share her joys and sorrows with someone", "For someone she is important and special" and so on. Positive messages were like bouncing off a wall, so I took a course in explaining the world: "Now there are different times, the age difference is no longer a problem" and I gave the example of a journalist with a husband who is a dozen or so years younger. I immediately saw how the tension disappeared from her face and the relief appeared: "I see now that I have to let it go”.
"Now there are different times” means that the situation is normal and does not need to be corrected, because it is as it should be.
"Should" is a spell that sweeps away all the other reasons from the surface of life. It means the way of life, stigmatized by the compulsion to follow what the world should look like and what people should do. Living under the dictate of "should" constantly torment myself and others - I criticize, correct and punish.
A sign of hope that there is a change in the way of life is that I start to look for answers to completely different questions: "How do I feel about it?", "Is that what I need?" "Does it serve me, or does it support me? It is a beautiful process, because I ask my heart, trust it and follow its choices.
The first model is like a self-appointed overbearing overlord - even though I did not invite him to my life, he has always been in charge of it. The latter is like a kind friend - he sees, respects me and let me be himself.
I reacted this time. I didn't turn my eyes away, I didn't pretend I couldn't hear. I followed the voice of my heart, although next time I will try to do it differently.
I'm going with Tunią near a school (private, Catholic).
"Well, a sissy, not Batman, but a sissy." - a young mother screams across the lawn to her friend who's walking next to us. In front of her a boy, maybe six years old, with his head down, hunched, walking slowly.
I felt great discomfort in the body, my stomach squeezed. The friend is shouting: "A sissy, and Batman was supposed to be there".
The woman is continuing: "When I said we were going to school, he yelled like a woman giving birth, I gave birth to a sissy..." He is going after her: "You're a sissy, no Batman”.
I felt so much pressure of emotion that I couldn't stand it: "Stop embarrassing that boy. I can't listen to it. In response, I hear immediately: "Then take the dog and go for a walk”. I'm saying at the end: "A bit of thinking about what you're saying, man.
A powerful dose of violence to the boy moved me as if someone had pressed a button. I imagined the suffering of that boy who heard words of disapproval and humiliation from his own mother. By the way, she humiliates women as inferior because they are crying and show affection?
This experience has worked in me throughout the entire walk. Next time I will try it differently, less aggression, more peace and understanding. If it doesn't work out, I'll try again. Maybe adults will finally feel how hurtful are the words they say to a little boy who expresses his feelings in his own way?
I am ready for criticism, insults or resistance like 'It's none of your business, stay out of it”. I will never stay out when a child is being abused.
What people are you repelled from, and with whom you immediately have a good contact and a desire for more? In the past, I thought about it many times, and finally realized that my fellows do the same as I do: they ruminate, interpret and comment on every matter in the mind. It is enough to say anything in order to start a stream of thoughts and hear what it comes from, what the reason is, what it means and what conclusions come from it. And it does not matter whether it is a country's development strategy or heart problems.
If these are the first words you hear when you speak with sadness, depression, joy or admiration about your personal matters, be careful. It is a warning flag that you are dealing with people who are distant, if not separated from their feelings. In relationship with them you have a guarantee of loneliness and a sense of alienation. You will not hear words of understanding or compassion from them, instead you will find out what it means, where it came from or what you should do. The person you consider close will then suddenly become indifferent to what you are experiencing and their heart is like a stone.
How to recognize it? Listen to what he or she says when you share something important with him or her.
You are coming back from work and telling your wife how depressed you are because your colleague has disappointed you and cheated you. In response, you hear: "You could have expected it, I told you all the time, but you didn't listen to me. This is normal at work, not everyone can be trusted. And how does he behave towards others? Talk to your boss, I advise you well”
You have finished the telephone conversation with your sick father and you share it with a friend: "I can't do it, I should support him, take care of him, but I can't, something paralyses me. And she says: "Your father is already old, you have to understand him. You have to endure, you are his closest family”.
You discover that you care more and more about healthy eating and are enthusiastic about sharing it with your partner. You get in response: "Forget it. Do you know how much it costs? It's another fashion, it's going to pass quickly. Or you'll find that someone's doing a big deal with it”.
If you build a relationship on doing things together, discussion or intellectual community, there is no reason to worry. If you dream of closeness, understanding, tenderness - run away before it is too late.
I have just finished an intensive 3-week work at the computer. Under the pressure of time, from morning to night, in tension, concentration and anxiety that I will not manage.
A few years ago, I worked in a similar way, but it ended in a health crash. I landed on the margins of my previous life in depressive condition. For the next year I was recovering step by step, carefully examining every manifestation of activity, movement and emotion.
This time it went differently. I set the alarm in my mobile phone every 45 minutes, to dance, stretch gently during breaks, hang laundry, cook, clean shoes, iron or play with Tunia, my dog who additionally took me for a walk 3 times a day.
This time my consciousness was with me. It was present as often as I allowed, giving me a sense of care and understanding. Thanks to my consciousness I knew when my body cried out: enough. When my arms and legs were stiffened, the spine started to hurt and the vice was squeezing my head to the pain. I could also realize the tension produced by the mind, anxiety, and the feeling of being overwhelmed and alone.
I could cry to myself.
Awareness, my best friend in everyday life, caring and wise. It was kindly keeping an eye on me, embraced and accompanied me tenderly, giving me access to the power of life.
The friend of mine happened to be working equally intensively at the same time. When I asked him about his body and feelings, he remembered that the last time he had such signals from his body was a few years ago, during a period of murderous work. He ignored them and continued to work until he fell seriously ill.
What is contact with the body, with oneself? What do these weird words mean? What does this serve?
Awareness is as practical as a personal bodyguard. It is good to hear it and to be able to trust it.
When a big black dog passes, Tunia jumps into it several times with barking. The black dog escapes and its owner throws every now and then reproaching glances at Tunia and me. For some time Tunia has been reacting in this way to unknown dogs. It may be that nothing serious happens, but I want to consult with a behaviorist, because I suspect that fear is the basis of these behaviours.
Almost every time Tunia barks at other dogs, criticism, comments and teaching falls on my head, there are also significant gestures and faces. It is hard to count on understanding, because most dog owners have very modest knowledge about dog behaviour. It is usually limited to what a dog should and should not do. First of all, the dog should not bark or growl. It should approach people, let them stroke itself and have fun with other dogs.
Labelling is an equally frequent repertoire. "Manager", "boss", "dominator" - none of them, in my opinion, reflects the truth about Tunia's behaviour.
The dog is a dog and has no human behaviour. Outdoor it has a lot of stimuli and challenges, which attack it with smell, appearance and behaviour. What we see with our eyes, it sniffs. It is alert to the slightest gestures and body language that we do not notice. And adopted dogs may have hidden trauma, diseases, habits and you do not know what. And each dog is different.
Sometimes there is a thought that having a cat is much less stressful. A cat shouldn't do anything, and even if she scratches with her claw, it's known that cats are like that. I miss more and more the field where we could walk with Tunia and simply be ourselves.
When I chose the gift for my daughter's 18th birthday, I realized for the first time how important that day was not only for her, but also for me as a mother who had gave birth to her.
9 months of being together unites forever. It is a story with constant care, sense of responsibility and uncertainty, but also with joy, emotion and great hopes. And the moment of birth - a mixture of pain, anxiety and confusion with a miracle, the absolute magic of life.
The birth of children is the most profound happening in my life. The power and weight of experiences can never be repeated.
At that time, on my daughter`s 18th birthday I felt how much her jubilee was also mine. I didn't know too much what to do with barely awakened consciousness and the need to celebrate. I didn't want to steal this special day from my daughter, besides, it was something outside our tradition.
In the background of family celebrations, I presented myself with a ring - the most expensive jewellery I have ever received.
The matter had been coming back to me for years. I was wondering how and with whom to celebrate such a jubilee. Is it possible to weave it into celebrating children's birthdays without stealing attention and uniqueness from them at the same time? For now, I celebrate individually - I try to do something nice and special for myself, I remember and meditate a little.
I also have a thought that I will gladly give to younger mothers - if I had been aware of that from the very beginning, our family celebrations would have been much more profound.
“How was on the trip?”. My good friend has just come back from her holiday in Italy. "I was ill and I didn't go with my family to visit the area".
A thought immediately appears in my head and I almost say it: “I`m sorry. You lost a lot, it was such a great opportunity”. I manage, however to keep my mouth shut and instead ask “that” question: “How did you feel about it?”
“It was a bit sad but in the bottom of my heart I felt happy. My husband always organizes free time like a manger and I felt really tired and needed less pressure. Staying at home gave me the chance to get rest and do what I really wanted to.
I felt relief and satisfaction that I managed to stop in time. Guessing or assigning my own associations or ideas to someone is a habit that is not so easy to notice. The more obvious the situation, the sooner the obvious interpretation appears in my head, like carbon paper, no name template.
In fact, it is an unaware act of violence when I force someone with my point of view and I am not giving them a chance to speak about themselves in their own name.
The question: "How was it for you? How did you receive it" is like a bridge that I can throw to another person. There is lightness, curiosity and freedom. It also creates a listening space in which the questioned person can become aware of what is most alive in his or her heart. It is an act of love in which I offer attention, understanding and compassion.
I am going on holiday. The client cancelled the session. I slept to work. The washing machine broke down.
Obvious topics, obvious situations. Are you sure? And if you asked so: "How do you feel about it, how is it for you?”
In the mountains, only those who are good losers can win, said Simone Moro, still alive the Italian Himalayan mountaineer in his comment on the winter unsuccessful Polish expedition to K2.
What does it mean to be a good loser?
If you cultivate in yourself to be ready to lose it means that you go to achieve your goal and at the same time you don`t. If you can be open to an experience and can accept both a success and a failure you can be saved. If the only option is reaching the summit, it is the mountain to make you face the irrevocable and ultimate reality.
In everyday life it goes different. You can devastate for years your health and devote everything in achieving your professional and personal goals, loosing sight of the chance to retreat. You don`t know how to resign as you have never tried such a thing and even you cannot see that treadmill which drive your everyday life and leads to inevitable disaster.
You may need many years of such experience to have depression, illnesses, burnout and then to start spending money for clinics, therapy to repair health and get the meaning of life back.
It happens that you face the truth too late when everything gets the quality of extreme. The mountain does the same, but doesn`t make you wait for its response so long.
One of the greatest legal and moral authority in Poland professor Adam Strzembosz told about the fundamental rule “ultima ratio”. It means that when you want people to behave in the desirable way, before you develop a criminal law to punish them, first you need to try non-legal actions till you use all of them.
A criminal law is at the end of that way and only when the other methods do not work.
He meant the latest legal nonsense in Poland regarding penalizing for assigning the responsibility for crimes especially Holocaust to the Polish nation.
I thought then about the recent initiative of the catholic church and some citizens gathered around the idea to totally ban abortion and to penalize that. I can understand the point of those who fight for complete elimination of abortion, due to their faith. I can understand how important it is for them and how painful to see that the abortions are still lawful, however limited to a few reasons only.
Though I cannot understand the way they go to achieve their goal, after all putting people in prison doesn`t seem to be their goal. Their big energy, money, social commitment, the great experience in education and help could be first used in supporting the victims of violence, birth control, development of state assistance for the families taking care of children with mental or physical disability, better access to the adoption procedures. That means a long, long way to “ultima ratio” leading through understanding, compassion and love.
My good friend spontaneously told me about herself and her family. It reminded me my own story which is not smooth nor nice, either. A lot of efforts, tension and loneliness, too little joy, no relaxation. I was used to cope with problems on my own and never surrender. I was serious and committed, responsible and smart – a good set to get a professional success while my private life was full of longings I could hardly feel.
When I started to introduce mindfulness into my life, the biggest challenge was to see that I didn`t manage to create for my own family the loving space I had been dreaming about as a child. Frustration and helplessness accompanied my enormous efforts. When I saw and acknowledged that truth I had the open way to the patient work on my personal change which have been continued till now. What I failed to do when I was a young woman and mother I am trying to do now. I do believe that it makes sense.
I look at the others who entered their adult life from a different level. They left the families which gave them enough attention and care to go straight and without any doubts. They take their families` schemes and calques for their own, do not need to face any truth and they just copy their parents with a strong belief that they do what should be done. If something doesn`t work they downplay, deny, justify, search for those who can be held guilty or escape to save themselves.
The way to be closer to yourself is not a bed of roses. However, when you eventually can face the truth and you do not need to paint a pretty picture nor to find an excuse or explanation, but you can receive or even embrace it with compassion and understanding, you get to the good place. Although you can encounter illnesses, powerlessness, are challenged a lot, you can see that the new place has the potential of hope and strength.
When I happened to bit Tunia, my dog, I was feeling terrible for a long time and strange to myself. Then I felt and realised after Zen Coaching session that to overcome my family heritage needs time.
I was waiting for the on-line session with Tine and feeling nervous. Her huge experience was highly valued and I was only a beginner 5 years ago in the process of certification for a Zen Coach. When we got connected on Skype we could only hear each other. With my English language it was going to be harder.
Tine asked me: “Is it OK for you if we continue without video?”. The part of me which is very keen to see any difficulty to immediately face it, was ready to say: “Yes, no problem” but Tine was carrying on: “or you prefer to find a new date for a session?”.
The second part of her question started with „or” sounded great for me. I felt liberated and relaxed in my body. It looked like Tine somehow managed to understand me perfectly. I also got the message in her question that whatever I choose it would be OK for her. I didn`t need to refuse, but accepted the suggestion to set a new date.
I realized then how important is to call the options loudly if the asking person is open to different possibilities and the question means an invitation to a dialog. When that “or” is missing the light proposal can be unintentionally changed into a challenge or limitation. It is difficult to refuse as well as to hear “no”.
Do you want me to help you or you prefer to do it on your own?
Would you like to go to for a walk or you prefer to stay home?
Is a sandwich enough for you or you prefer to get a warm meal?
Since then I have tried to remember about including that magic “or” which brings more ease, freedom and gives the chance to say “yes”.
I met her on the field close to the forest. She was with a small dog like my Tunia. We started to talk and I could feel flow and understanding. It was a true talk as besides speaking there was also listening. When we were talking about sleeping I was surprised to hear that everybody in her family wanted to sleep in a bed with the dog.
It immediately resonated in me because I have been deliberating over the subject since Tunia came to my home. Even though I have never learnt that I shouldn`t allow a dog to sleep in my bed, I haven`t decide to do that. It wasn`t the choice of my heart, rather a kind of “should/shouldn`t”. When I only started to think about sleeping with a dog I always could feel discomfort in my body.
The lady was calm and open in telling about her experience so I got encouraged to share with her my doubts: I feel like I want to but something in my head says to me: “no”. She responded in peaceful words: “You do not need to fight it…” and I realised that it was just what I was doing – my head was fighting not to give space to my heart to say something.
That night I took a blanket, put it on my mattress and pulled Tunia to my bed, to her big surprise. From the very beginning it was a natural and wonderful experience. Tunia wants to sleep close to me but it doesn`t make any inconvenience. I do not worry about hygiene, infections or so.
I feel very much grateful to that lady who helped me to follow my heart voice and am happy to be finally in the group which loudly admits that allows the dogs to sleep in a bed.
However, the acquiring of the wealth must have been easier than retaining it. I remember that power which stopped to be the one when I am thinking about 10 million of Polish people who were fighting or supporting the fight for freedom in the eighties. It seemed that we had achieved what we had been struggling for and we were on our dream way.
What now? How many Poles value freedom and want to live in it? How do they see it?
I am reading what the Polish Prime Minister said lately and cannot believe as it is full of aggression and brutality against someone who had a different opinion. Strength and pushing forward – the more and the absolute, the better. No dialog, a language of confrontation, no ability to co-operate or connect. Denying the reality and ignoring the law, authorities and knowledge. If the facts do not fit the statements, much worse for the facts. The assigning of the worst intentions to those who think and choose differently.
Revolutionary fervour in the devastating.
Is it that the 10 million was fighting for?
It seems that one thing is to fight and the other to be with the achieved. There was missing a lot to have been able to enjoy the democratic freedom and to be building welfare and significance for all citizens.
Most of all there was and still has been missing – listening of the people, a key attribute for freedom.
My daughter`s cat Kiton has come to us for 4 weeks. From the beginning, she became a super target to my puppy Tunia to accost and play with her. Unfortunately, the cat was responding with anxiety and anger to every energetic Tunia` move. Even though Kiton was using her full arsenal to repel the puppy – Tunia was pressing to get in touch with the cat. Finally, Tunia got the claw on her nose, was bleeding, then was going to the extreme and started to hide and be trembling with fear.
The first days were a challenge to me in stress and efforts to protect once Tunia, once Kiton. I was being stressed by what I had in my imagination about their feelings. Then my masseur, whose intuition I admire a lot, said to me: They will adjust to each other on their own, yet they are animals. I felt liberated with his words, as if I was waiting for them. I was feeling relief that I didn`t need to watch them any longer, intervene or assign to them any human reactions like they are humiliated, ashamed or treated unfair.
Being more relaxed I began to recognise that they have been learning each other all the time and there is a kind of a dynamic balance between them. Sometimes they can be passing by each other but another time suddenly they feel a tension and Tunia with barking tries to chase a cat. She doesn`t succeed as is sliding on the floor and staying on the same place for a while and then the cat about which I started to think with compassion, comes back like nothing happened. After five minutes, they are together being warmed by the sun on a window ledge.
I managed to see that each of them is enriching their common life. Even though there is a bit of fear and uncertainty I do not want to influence the situation any more. To lose control and trust has been the most helpful for all of us.
The summer has brought the considerable number of the drownings. The media started to publish the information about how to recognise the drowning man as what we imagine about that is much different from the reality. We do not see the drowning people! In their fight for life they neither send us the clear signals nor shout at all.
It can be a perfect metaphor for the situation in life when people are slowly drowning in helplessness and depression. I recently missed the calling for help from my loved one. I seemed to have been listening to her but couldn`t realise how seriously she was affected. I cannot believe that I was so deaf to her as I myself was going through the same though experience two years ago!
What is important?
We need to be watching out for our friends and loved ones whose life style is to be powerful, independent and supportive to the others. That sort of people is especially exposed to the breakdown. We need not to miss or downplay if someone who never complains nor asks for help happens to talk about his/her overloading. They may be sending their subtle Mayday message.
We need to be asking questions and if are not experienced in the empathic listening, can offer just to be present. In that situation, the most overwhelming experience is to be alone and not understood and it can be healing when someone can share the living space and change the lonely “I” to “we”. We need to be daily in touch, to call, to write, to show our interest and give the sign: I see and understand you. Any comments, giving opinions or unwanted advice and any calling for getting a grip on themselves, do not work.
The true kind presence coming from the heart can be enough to prevent someone from moving away from life.
Every day I go out for a dog walk. Tunia is still a puppy who catches to her mouth and eats everything which is on her way. I put my glasses on and am alert to notice a potential danger. I try not to go out when it gets dark as then I am losing to her who is equipped with a perfect sense of smell. Many dog owners met on the walk have already told me the stories about his or his friends` dogs who had eaten some rubbish and then were suffering over the weeks, were scanned, operated and sometimes the worst was at the end. “Be very careful!”.
Almost everything is thrown on the sidewalks, lawns or roadway – starting with a chewing gum, food scraps, bread and rolls, fruits, tickets, disposal cutlery, bones (of a chicken, unfortunately), plastic and paper packages, till the used condoms and bloodied bandages. The biggest part of all that are the dog`s poops. By the way, instead of a call: “Clean up after your dog” the better would be “Do not turn your eyes from your dog” as this seems to be the strategy of many dog owners who are starring to the opposite direction or to their smartphones.
How is it possible that so much of that trash land on the streets although there is a lot of trash cans there standing every 20 meters. I feel quite helpless looking at that and give up but when Tunia happens to eat again something I feel both angry and worried.
What does it mean? – The prevailing ignorance to a common good and a tidiness in a public space? When I was a child and let the candy wraps fly to a sidewalk my father reacted: “Imagine that there a thousand of people comes here and everyone drops a wrap. How untidy the sidewalk will be then”. It was enough to work for me.
Not Catholic, nor communist, nor libertarians and even nor leftist – just a civil concern embedded to a kid by its father.
I was working hard and every day getting back home late. It was only the weekend in which I was trying to catch up on the things. There was always a lot to do and I was feeling pressure to manage everything. I was jumping out of the frying pan into the fire.
After busy Saturday, on Sunday morning I remembered that there was missing one more item on my “to do list”. It was the button detached from my pyjamas which for a long time had been a stain on my conscience as I was permanently forgetting to sew it. Yes, I have to do it now! – I thought and immediately felt a resistance in my body and a kind of hostility. It was felt so clearly that I decided let it go and not to make myself to do anything. It was just a button, not a big deal.
In the evening when the most items on my “to do list” were done I felt that I really wanted to sew that button. It came from nowhere but I was feeling in the background also joy and freedom together with lightness and energy to do it. I sat down and the button got in its place in 5 minutes.
It was one of the kind of experiences which always come back to me. The natural transformation of the resistance which when not broken, was effortlessly changed to my approval and willingness.
I try to remember that when I have the thoughts that I should do something. When I choose “should” there is a resistance and I need a lot of energy to overcome it. I work under pressure and ineffectively then and cannot fully enjoy it.
When the right moment comes it goes on its own with lightness and naturalness.
Every day I take out something of a plastic or paper packaging. Plastic imitates paper so well that I have a headache how to sort out them. I am wondering if everything really needs the packaging. Must plastic be the number one there?
When I was a child I was going to buy a milk with a churn, then a glass bottle. Cheese, meat and smoked meat were wrapped in a paper and fruits and vegetables in the paper bags. There was a fish shop at the Old Town where I was fascinated to be watching the woman who was throwing the fish on the big sheets of paper and then wrapping it like an envelope. Every empty paper bag of sugar or flour was reused by my mom and the bowls with a food in a fridge were covered by a plate not a food wrap. There were no disposable shopping bags and we were taking a nylon bag, then a textile one.
Now I am going for a more-than-once use. I am reluctant to use a paper towel and prefer a cotton or viscose one. Try not to forget to take for shopping the cotton ones. The plastic bags which occasionally are brought from the shopping are used as the garbage bags and for cleaning up after my dog on a walk. When I need to buy on a vegetable market some sauerkraut or pickled cucumbers I always take a jar with me. I would love to buy cereal, groats, seeds and herbs in the bigger quantities but still do not have the reliable seller. The vegetables are stored in my fridge in the paper bags which are in use for as long as possible. It looks more and more like what my mom was doing 50 years ago. The necessity which earlier resulted from a shortage, now is becoming the one from an overplus.
I have read that if you want to eat healthy it is not enough to take the healthy ingredients. You need to reduce the meal and to eat less as we are not able to burn out the calories. I can see the same with plastic and paper – much less packaging and more multiple use of what we have already had.
What is the best test for a candidate for a partner? The conflicts i.e. the situations which starts with the disagreement about what to do or not in the real life challenges. This is also a natural way of emerging of the life force that can be leading to strengthening of the relationship. If you watch carefully your potential partner in a conflict, you can see whether he/she brings the qualities inevitable to make a relationship satisfactory. You can also look at your current relationship.
One of the key qualities is the readiness to take a responsibility and to make efforts to find a solution together. When the conflict shows up followed by the tension and stress, we often tend, instead of facing the truth and acknowledging the facts, to seek the excuses, drawn into theories or analysis, cut off the talk, support ourselves with “but” or to be aggressive actively or passively. If we use: “You always”, “You go overboard”, “Everybody has that”, “It works like that”, “It is obvious that”, “I am just like that”, “You have to accept this”, “You are right, but”, we are obviously losing the contact with what really happened and any chance for an agreement. We then get isolated from the difficult things and have the hope that it gets a solution on its own, fades out, melts and disappears. This strategy is a very devastating one as it doesn`t resolve anything and on a long term it causes the overloading of the organism and the chronic diseases.
Another quality is a willingness to hear a partner. We have not been taught by anyone how to listen with an open heart, even though we think we can. To hear it means to abandon for a while our own perspective and learn with curiosity what feelings, longings and needs of the partner are behind his/her doing this or that. To accept them as they are and to honour without any judging. The belief that our partner doesn`t want us to be hurt or humiliated helps a lot as much as that he/she want us to be happy however it doesn`t necessarily look like that in the full of tension conflict.
It reminds me the couple that was trying to rescue their marriage in a therapy. At the end of each day they were sitting together in the kitchen and didn`t go to sleep till they got the agreement in any conflict matter of the passing day.
At a time when I was running across the world with no awareness or a good sense, it happened that 1 cent coin fell on the floor in my office. I even didn`t want to bend down to pick it up. My colleague Marian was so confused to see my behaviour that said: “I do not know the big amount which is not consisted of the small ones”. I remember that lesson today when I talk with my friends about what is the key for the living by the qualities of Zen Coaching.
The most important is to trust that the experience can guide us in life. What does it mean? The experience means everything we go through and emerges in our space of being – the thoughts, feelings, needs and heart longings. When we acknowledge that the experiencing itself is valuable for us, forgetting what it can bring in the terms of a profit, the expectations, correctness or pleasure, we truly start to live in harmony with ourselves.
We tend to assign the driving force of transformation to the things which are tremendous and making us feel like “Wow” but if you keep a contact with yourself day by day it is much more useful. There is no chance for something profound if a lot of the tiny moments in which we can be aware of our feelings, physical sensations in a body or name our heart longing, do not come about. It is like 1 cent coin alone which doesn`t look too impressive.
How can I recognize that the experiencing has not still become my life compass?
When I finish the session and try to assess if it was valuable. When my kid makes his/her own decision and I am considering whether it can be done better. When my friend searches for his own way of healing himself and I think that he is wrong as does not follow my advice. When I ask the people what I should do as I do not believe that I can get the solution on my own or take a book to find the answers to my big questions.
What then? To stop and notice: “Aha, I am again on the old track…” It is an experience, too.
The acupuncture doctor touches my wrist with her fingertips and says: “A lot of tension. Your veins are contracted.” “Not only veins” my thoughts answer to her and dive immediately into my body which all has been suffering from a tension - the blood vessels, muscles, tendons and fasciae.
8 years ago when I learnt Alexander Technique I entered a completely new phase of being in contact with my body. I got aware of many things like when I fell asleep all my body was tensed or that I could notice the parts of my body which were contracted only when they started to be painful. I failed to make them relaxed for longer than 3 seconds.
I began to understand that my body had been experiencing that over the dozens of years and it was very much connected with the way I was living. I should, must hold on, cope with. Everything was important or serious and was turning into the tasks and responsibilities. The leisure was available only when had been deserved and earned and even then I was feeling guilty and inappropriate. The permanent alertness, focusing and stress. Even my dreams were full of the efforts, endeavours and struggling.
My poor overloaded body has been given a kind attention now and can complain and manifest with pain the biggest damages. It is not only the spine, arms and legs. My eyesight started to be getting worse very early along with the oversensitivity to cold, not mentioning my sinus…
I approach Tunia which is lying in her doggy way. She looks at me surprised when I gently pick her leg up. This is my turn to be surprised as I find her leg completely relaxed. I check out her three other legs and discover the same. Why to flex them once they are not used?
I do appreciate my analytical mind. I used to feel safe having surrounded everything by the thoughts, meanings and judgments. The interpreting was my second nature and I even couldn`t notice that I was automatically commenting on every tiny life situation. My efficient mind was also the solid foundation for my professional career.
When I was being drawn into analysing I didn`t have to be in contact with sadness, discomfort and powerlessness. As it was the only way to survive the difficult feelings, it became my rescue and the habit then. I didn`t realise that there was the other side to it, because when I was getting away from the unpleasant feelings, at the same time the door to empathy and compassion was getting closed.
When it was finally worked out in my mind how to be happy I felt frustrated because couldn`t experience that in a real life. I did not want to accept any substitutes for a true transformation leading to peace and lightness which was my big longing. The growing frustration together with incredulity brought me first to the NVC, then Mindfulness, Zen Coaching and Focusing.
Why did I start to do something different from the permanent processing of reality in my mind?
One day I was gifted with empathic attention and felt so moved and warm that I got at once that my thought reel was not helpful at all, even worse, it was taking me away from my dream closeness.
It became my choice to change the way I was living moment by moment. I started to slow down, to stop and ask myself with curiosity: “What reaction is in my body, what calls my attention in it”, “What need or longing emerge in me” The trust that I want to go that way to the bigger closeness, was my heart`s choice.
To use mind in a different way and not to be drawn into ceaseless processing of reality, seems to be the biggest challenge in everyday life situations. I face that challenge also on each Zen coaching session. When I feel confusion or have a question “what to do next” I know that my mind thrown me out of the Zen Coaching process to which I can get back if I manage to notice and acknowledge that.
I was attacked by the member of the family I come from. First with the vulgar words, then physically. Shock, pain, confusion. I was desperately trying to regain a balance as I was arranging the things of great importance to my mother for whom I was driving that day almost 500 km.
I was hoping to have a sleep and to get up in a good condition on the next day. However, in the morning I was feeling heaviness, depression and tiredness in my body. I started to understand how big and overwhelming that experience was for me.
My thoughts started to be around the aggressor and his bad mental and emotional state. It was my old mechanism which in the difficult life moments was taking my attention to the others, to analysing or searching for the reasons. That time I managed to respond to those thoughts immediately and made a firm decision: “Focus on yourself”. Later it was repeated by the therapist even more clear: “Protect yourself”.
I realised that I didn`t want to go away from myself but also didn`t want to be alone with all that. Not an isolation and waiting for any improvement by itself but sharing with the other people as much as needed was my choice and hope. I asked to be listened by the persons I trusted and hoped that they could understand me. It was my own family, my friends, companions on the Listening Practice, the acupuncture doctor, my trusted psychotherapist.
Step by step I was able to allow for everything that was happening. When I was tired I was taking a nap, I was skipping dog walks, doing nothing, crying and eating candies without feeling guilty. I have been going through that experience in the different way than before.
My therapist told me something that I had already found as my own truth – the family is the most important but not at any price. When it becomes destructive with no chance for better, to protect yourself, you need to move away.
I can find that I make less and less mistakes in my life. I rather make choices and follow them as my life unfolds. Is it difficult to believe that? What does a mistake mean at all?
A mistake is very much connected with the style of living in which the biggest driver and a reference point is what we “should”. It is a set of believes, patterns and standards of behaving which are embedded in ourselves on different levels. Some are easily visible, like: “I should be more assertive”, “I should drink less coffee” but there are some with a cosmic power doing their job underneath. They were given by our parents and we might not get aware of them till the end of our life.
When we don`t do according to our “should” we are automatically attacked by the judgment: “I am making mistake”, “I am doing wrong” which are followed by the feeling of discomfort, sorrow, depression, irritation or anger. It looks like we abandon our own life and unconsciously take a role of a judge to be watching our life performance and assess if it is good enough and meets the expectations. That ongoing run to fulfil a never ending list of “should” and to severely evaluate ourselves, makes the essence of life for many of us. It is driven by a hope that we will succeed in something at last.
Do all those “should” really reflect our true needs and work for our well-being?
When I stop the living led by “should” and I look at my life like a journey I get access to more peace and freedom. I do something and it brings me to a new place I have never been before. Then I am curious to look around and ask my heart what I feel at that place and what I really want to do next. Then I follow my heart advice and go to another place. Every moment of that journey is precious for me by the fact that it exists and I exist in it. When I stop and ask myself what I long for, I can consciously steer my life and my choices meet my true needs then.
Many years ago I participated in the celebration party of one of the biggest forwarders in Poland. They just obtained the certificate of the International Standardisation Organisation (ISO) It was a step toward the improvement of the management quality in their company and the great pride. The CEO made a joke in his speech: We have success. As we get the ISO certificate we are acknowledged to conduct according to the procedures but the certificate says nothing whether it is good for our company.
I remember those words while watching permanent efforts on the personal development market to obtain more and more certificates and diplomas. Another training, course, school and more titles in a bio.
I understand this on one hand. I have a big respect for knowledge and education. Those who go through the educational process, engage their efforts, skills and commitment. They are building their personal resources and are being verified. This is the way to get diplomas by the doctors, engineers and lawyers. Do I ask for a certificate when I have a massage or go to a hairdresser? Do I need a certificate from a Zen Coach, an aroma therapist, a MBSR or Focusing trainer?
Where is the line between my own responsibility or trust and giving it to the organisation which issues a certificate?
My intuition and the way I perceive a particular person is the main guidance for me. I look at the values they contribute. If they can listen, are kind and non-judgmental to the others. If they are open, authentic and do not need to control every single word. How they work and communicate.
The key competence in the development area for me is openness and willingness to face the truth.
It might be that among the Polish people who are famous from the lowest social trust there is the mania for diplomas and certificates. My friend who does Zen Coaching and lives in Holland told me that when she introduced herself as a Zen Coach in Poland the first question was: Have you any paper or certificate for that? In Holland: O, Zen Coaching, interesting, can you tell about it?
Why is the kind language of political correctness in retreat and the violence and aggression are making success? I got the impression that the idea of political correctness in practice has been distorted. When you show respect and do not use a hate speech it always supports to build better relationships and flow between people, but if you want to change anything you must not stop at the words only. The words are like a bridge which can be thrown to another person but if it is not founded on what is real and true, it will collapse sooner or later. I was writing that many times on my blog here.
It is not easy to see and acknowledge what is real as it forces to solve the concrete existing problems. Sometimes it is not wanted, there is no idea how to cope with them or by a current calculation it does not pay off.
In the politics, the ignoring the real people worries always brings a rising frustration, a feeling of isolation, fear and abandonment. If the only response of the politicians is a prattle in a language of political correctness and a reluctance to face the truth it opens way to those whose main asset is to call the things by their names. The more brutal and blunt they are the more acceptable to the tormented citizens: “At last someone who can really hear and understand us! He tells the truth and doesn`t treat those who cheated us with kid gloves. He knows what to do to make our life better!”
What now? We need to go through that disaster and emerge wiser. Let everyone do what they can. I start offering a free meditative and empathic listening according to the spirit of the World Day of Listening. www.worlddayoflistening.org
I got the book by Victoria Stilwell from my daughter. Victoria is a behaviorist whose films „It`s me or my dog” I was watching a few years ago. I was delighted with her attitude to the dogs. It was close to my heart that she promoted understanding the needs and behaviour of the dogs instead of forcing or pressing them. She was also sharing her knowledge and experience to enable everybody to use it on their own. And my beloved daughter remembered that I loved Victoria`s style!
With the first sentences of the book I got the feeling of the same common values and understanding. She gives a lot of advice and tips and I have already managed to use many of them. I encountered there one guidance which I found difficult to implement in practice - “We should reward that behaviour of the dog which we recognize as proper and wanted”. Where is a challenge there? It is just that you need to notice that.
If a dog is fearful because of a noise of a garbage truck but stays with no barking, pulling, going away, it should be given a signal that it is a positive behaviour and get a reward. It can be a „good girl”, a treat, a play or anything it loves.
What do we usually do in a such situation? When a dog behaves in an expected and normal way we do not notice that at all and do nothing. We get activated when it does something bad and unwanted.
How to motivate a dog to do what I find normal? To do that I need to keep being mindful and really watching a dog. And the most important – to change my habit of not seeing things which are normally good.
I have a thought about our human life.
How would it be if in the situation when a child is present in a way which doesn`t bring any problems or any big delight, the parents can show him or her how much they enjoy and appreciate that she or he just is. At that very ordinary moment.
“Ban the coaching and personal development” is a provocative title of the Polish Facebook page about which I heard from my daughter. Even though it’s dominated by an aggressive and vulgar hate speech which attacks the workshops, coaching and the others activities, you can find there some reasonable critical comments. When I read them something resonates sadly in me: Yes, this is it.
When I was leaving the corporation world and entering the personal development one I event didn`t think that in business and functional terms they are so similar to each other. I was doubtful to discover there a tough competition, a lack of confidence in a co-operation between the partners, the sham activities, unfair communication and delivery of the nice wrapped products that don`t bring the promised results. All that is immersed in the sea of beautiful words about life, personal fulfilment, happiness and the values we desperately long for. I feel sad to see that.
Anyone who wants to live better, look for the good offer on the development market. Those who provide the sewing courses, healthy eating workshops, dancing classes etc., deliver a specific and practical service. However, a pretty big part of the market which promises a change of the quality of spiritual and mental life seems to be dreaming a dream. As if they are not aware of what is real or illusionary, what works or does not and when the connection to the declared values breaks. It looks like a big common confusion and the unthinking imitating the successful trainers who are greatly admired for their eloquence, dynamism or charisma. Where is the space for curiosity, challenging the authorities and searching for own truth? What is a core of the growth then?
Over a dozen years of my intensive self-development activities I have met only a few teachers who in a real life embodied the values they were promoting on the courses and I haven`t met a single participant about whom I could say that she or he has experienced an authentic deep transformation as a result of the workshops. I am wondering how many teachers who invite to a spiritual or personal change are conscious and allowing that their own access to love, freedom, trust and self-confidence is still difficult? How many of those who play the role of a competent expert, an enthusiastic leader or a charming master have reflection on what they really offer to their students? How can a teacher support anyone to make the real change if he himself does not stay in a contact with the truth?
Is that Facebook page of questionable value the only space to put it bluntly?
At the last Focusing workshop on a job burnout I was surprised to realise that a burnout itself is about something bigger and deeper than a professional activity only. It is not by any chance that it goes with a depression and the psychosomatic diseases.
It reminded me what had happened last year. I went to my family home and was trying to arrange all things to enable my mom to live on her own. Even though I had no sense of contact or co-operation but loneliness and felt exhausted, I did not give up and continued even harder. That time I suspended working on the project I expected to live off and when I returned home I found my partner quit. My response to it was not to collapse but to work more intensively on a computer 10 hours a day under the extreme stress and tension.
I was not able to see what was really happening. That big mobilisation was very familiar to me and made me feel alive. I was doing like a robot and did not recognise the possibility to step back and change the previous plan.
It was only 2 weeks after which my body defended me and desperately cried: enough. I couldn`t sit, hold my hand on the keyboard, my spine was suffering and my body was completely stiff. Nothing could help. I was becoming more and more frightened and depressed.
Now I feel grateful to my body that it so radically cut me off life and let me come back after a year from a new place even it meant to me a journey through suffering, fear and loneliness.
A burnout can be in a professional life, a family life, a relationship or any role in which it starts to be harder and harder till it becomes unbearable. The key point is when instead of saying: “Enough” I try more and more and double my efforts or explain and convince myself to continue although it doesn`t bring any relief or a real change for better. I need only one moment to see what is happening, offer understanding and compassion to myself and stop struggling.
When I give up and feel like: “Enough, I can`t any longer” I invite my own life force and let it take care of me and guide me to a good place. I can absolutely trust it.
I like Anthony de Mello`s approach to the world. I find very close to me his respect and trust in the truth which heals and awakes to life. I read his “I am an Ass and you`re an Ass” that we are the mixture of everything and have no need to pretend someone who is better, wiser or more charming. We all are the same in our deepest longing for love however each of us is at a different point on their way. What we need is just to open our hearts, see what is real and try to stay with that with no denying or painting a pretty picture.
With such a message I have developed my own development programme “Closer to yourself” based on the Zen Coaching process including a meditation and empathic listening. I contribute to the programme my experience of a personal change and my practice in Minfulness, NVC, Focusing and the other approaches which integrate and deepen a contact with a body, the feelings, mind and heart.
The “Closer to yourself” is my programme for the whole life and the most important journey. It can become a journey for everyone who wants to join.
Who is invited?
The persons who make efforts to live better but feel disappointment at what they have gained in their self-development so far. They admit in their deepest heart that however they are blooming on the workshops, when they come back home their life does not change.
There might be the persons who have already tried to be staying in the space of meditation and empathy but want to experience the different qualities. To go deeper, to feel touched and connected in their journey to the heart.
The programme is composed of the three parts related to the Zen Coaching process. Each part starts with a two-day workshop which is followed by a practice.
A workshop introduces the practical skills and gives an opportunity to get the feeling and experience of the new way of being with the other human being and to find out whether it fits or not. The main process of a change goes on the practice.
If you compare the “Closer to yourself” to a tree you can see that the workshops are like a seed which initiates a plant and secure it to sprout up. Once the resources stored in a seed are used up, a seedling dies unless the roots grow and supply a water and the nutrients. The practice under the “Closer to yourself” means a life-giving root system giving a chance for a tree to grow.
Since the programme is offered in a Polish language only, more information is given in the Polish version.
Which way to the authentic change of ourselves? I know the path I have been following for years. The biggest role there is played by a human being who can deeply listen in the space of everyday matters, two healing sisters: empathy and meditation and the time.
The five ingredients at everyone`s fingertips.
Empathy and meditation have been present in my life for the last 10 years in many ways. Thanks to the mindfulness I was learning to stop and watch without judging what was happening but I did not manage to reach that vulnerable and painful part of me hidden in the depth of my heart. The psychotherapy and empathy sessions, on the other hand, were bringing acceptance and understanding to me but they did not allow to deepen the connection.
Those two approaches in Zen Coaching co-operate with each other and have a new quality. The empathy anchored in a daily life and its challenges, supported by meditation and the presence of the other human being becomes loving and warm. In that space every moment of being in touch with our own feelings, body sensations and heart longings contributes to the process of a deep transformation.
How to do it in a real life? The answer is to practice a meditative and empathic listening in any way and any time. If you cultivate such listening you will always get the change for better, but... you need to do it. Day after day, month after month, year after year. It is not enough to go through a few even very moving experiences because the process asks for time and patience. The person who is constantly given the loving attention gets access to his or her heart and begins to treat himself or herself more and more calm and kind. Also that one who opens his or her heart and listen with empathy and meditation gets on the path to self-understanding and self-compassion.
The best way to start is to join a regular group for a true listening and to try with the friends and family on a daily basis. The beginning seems to be both easy and difficult and means a mindful and kind listening with no interrupting, analysing, diagnosing, giving comments or advice. After you get the feel of such new listening you can include the meditation elements which make the process deeper.
When you need the individual support or are ready to go further it is worth to have Zen Coaching sessions.
When we change ourselves that way, everything in our life changes. We do not need any longer the advice like: „How to be self-confident”, “How to cope with stress”, “How to talk to the kids”, “How to heal our relationships”. Life slowly ceases to be a problem and becomes a journey. The other people stop to be seen as a danger but a gift. We have more understanding and compassion for ourselves and the others. There is no worry and uncertainty while making decision and the solutions meet our important needs. Our being gradually gains lightness and ease and the things start to work out.
The concrete development offer under the new edition of the programme „Closer to yourself” is going to be posted next week.
When I go to a bread baking workshop I get the practical skills I can use just after the training. But if the workshop is about the change of life, quality of being with myself and the others? Is it possible that I love more, have more trust and self-confidence after I come back home?
I can see what I have gained on the workshops by having done my own development work.
First of all, the practical skills. I was learning to notice my own thoughts, feelings, senses in a body and by exercising regularly I have got into my stride.
I had also learnt many methods and tools for personal change but when I tried to use them in my daily life I couldn`t get ahead. “Be assertive”, “Be self-confident”, “Love yourself”, “Free yourself from stress” etc. Once I had tools why I couldn`t get a change? After all I look at that failure as a valuable gift because I have found out what doesn`t work.
I was getting to know better and better the processes, mechanisms and dependencies in the objective world and in me, so I was building a self-awareness. I really enjoyed when I could explain why this and that, where it came from, what the problem was because I hoped it was bringing me to my dream destination. However, I did not achieve a change but frustration and sorrow that I couldn`t get on in my real life. It was the most precious lesson and finally I admitted that it is not the knowledge which makes a change but the experience.
So…experience. I was doing exercises on the workshops and was delighted with my heart movement and closeness – special feelings which were away in my day-to-day life. I was given a power and support of the group, was staying in the space of acceptance and understanding in the way which was not available with my own family, friends and colleagues. But when I came back home I started longing for these feelings like short-live heart movements which I didn`t know how to bring back. It drove me to the next searching.
By watching the others and myself I realized that the workshops can be a trap, too. Once we have collected a pretty big resource of knowledge and words we begin to talk more about how wonderful it is to be what we long for. The telling itself is so fascinating that generates a sweet sensation that we have already become all these qualities. Everyone does the same so we help each other to drown in illusion and leave the real path to the beloved change.
When I was looking for the authentic and long-lasting life change I came to the conclusion that the workshops only are not enough. What is the key to the true change? See the next post on my blog in a week.
I have been trying many offers in the personal growth. I have understood with time that my need for growth is just one longing – a closeness. To live in a closeness means to me to be understanding and calm, to have acceptance and allowance to myself, feel freedom and trust.
When I left my corporation life behind, wanted also to abandon my old approach to review the situation, make decisions and do things. I decided not to be guided any longer by the concepts and beliefs about how to get happiness and success, but to follow my intuition and myself. I chose curiosity and searching for my own truth instead of “should” and “must”.
It was not easy for me to open myself just for experiencing what was working and what was not. The big challenge was to rely on myself and stay with even though the others around me were going after the masters, listening to the experts and getting similar to each other. This way was meandering and sometimes looked as if it was misguiding me or leading to the lonely points of no return. It was bringing doubts, anxiety and illness, too but finally gave me connection to inner power, trust and joy. Where has it led me to? Is there anything in my life that has been really changed for better?
I think about my kids. Now see their needs and decisions in a new way. I try above all to ask them questions and truly listen to them. The more I ask the less I want to push them with my comments or advice. I really feel trust about their own way and see their life as their own journey. Whatever they decide I will support them.
The criticism, my old trademark, has been considerably diminished. I have much less expectations about who should be doing what and what should be like, including myself. I try to keep exploring what supports me and works and to replace judging by understanding and compassion. Curiosity has become my best friend – I start with the questions instead of the opinions then.
I have changed my approach to the new communities, groups and persons. I used to be worried when I met someone new but now I look into their eyes and smile and it goes naturally from heart. When I ask questions I try not to interrupt when I am getting the response. Yes, definitely more questions and listening.
I open much easier to the unexpected developments off the schedule. I feel more trust to myself and follow my own feeling that is why I do not need either a teacher or a guru.
Although I still experience pretty much uncertainty and longing for love, would like to be more spontaneous and joyful, I do want to continue going my way. Here I have a feeling of growing, a sense and above all - the truth. I do feel myself here.
Which way to happiness? See the next post on my blog in a week.
Recently I was accompanying the person with dementia. He looked as tensed and scary when I entered the room. We were sitting together with the others and he was saying nothing however appeared to be also curious a bit.
A dementia illness starts a man`s degradation with his memory. One can hardly learn anything as remembering what just happened is very limited. Step by step an abstract and associative thinking is lost and the understanding of time disappears. It is really hard to him to understand what is happening in his life especially when it exceeds his daily routine. Anxiety and uncertainty are always together with him but he still keeps dignity and a need for respect. The way of communication completely changes. His relatives cannot be with him or talk to as they used to. They start to feel as if he has gone however he is still alive. All that lead to enormous fear and overwhelming suffering both to the family and the ill person.
We were sitting alone on a couch, I was looking with curiosity into his eyes and saying nothing. At a certain moment he started to talk. With full sentences he was telling me about what was alive in him. That he had been on a walk, what he likes, what he would like to do. Sometimes I could hear some bragging in his voice but also admitting that there are things not accessible to him any longer. I felt touched that he was so present and willing to share. I sensed connection and flow. It gave me the chance to get to know and understand him better. The only I was doing to keep our dialogue was listening and reflecting back.
The space of listening and acceptance became the invitation to him to get back to life in his own way.
“If the people could feel like that they wouldn`t be so constrained, would be free” – said my client on the session. He was still doubtfully watching how it was to be in such a peace, power and acuity. All the pressure about “must” and “should” having been carried every day like a huge overwhelming burden, disappeared.
It reminded me the story I recently read about the woman recognized as Righteous among the Nations, who in the War risked her life to save Jews. Each day she prayed to God for forgiveness for she was rescuing Jews. This was the message of the church and society that time which made her see what she was doing as a sin. But at the same time she was so closely to her own heart that she decided to follow its voice.
A freedom of conscience and religion – said in one breath in a constitution. I have just realized that there can be “an institutional conscience” stated and interpreted by the church hierarchy or moral authorities. But a private conscience is much more deep and powerful. When I choose by my heart I feel not only free and closer to myself but also resistant to any manipulation or influence.
I have come back to my overweight of 3-years ago when I began the new diet. It was about my health but brought easily a weight loss as to my natural level. Then after some time, step by step there started to open small doors and excuses for breaking the rules, then the difficult time came together with excessive eating and sweets.
I was on a diet for the first time when I was 17. I lost my weight very fast and so fast gained it back. Then I started to have been experiencing the same. When I was well, felt involved and happy – I was losing my weight with no effort. When the hard time was coming together with problems and depression – I was eating and growing fat. At least I could clearly see that relation and the additional kilos did not appear from nowhere.
When I look at my friends` and my stories of slimming I can recognize how simply a diet works. It doesn`t matter what the name of a diet is, what is recommended or banned. Once I start a diet I get motivated, focused and ready for commitment. I become important to myself as well for those who see and support me. I switch on the programme “Must” and “Should” I am still very familiar with. Then I enjoy the results for a while!
What is blocked and goes underground temporarily it is a mechanism of a stress-eating, delivering a relief and help with eating because of hard times. Like an alcoholic who can stop drinking for a while producing the illusion that it can last for ever. That mechanism is the most important thing and at the same time the biggest challenge. This can explain why there is a silence about it. Sometimes you can hear something like “a change of eating habits” but it is usually dominated by the most attractive aspects – the names and contents of diets, impressive stories, marketing soft tools which can touch the weak point of each of us and the guarantees to reduce a yo-yo effect.
When I have my overweight back and my commitment disappears I try to accept that it just happens instead of criticising myself for inconsistency and weakness. I want to be understanding and kind to myself and to enjoy to have been lighter and more original for some time. I would prefer to change radically the way I react to my discomfort and suffering but it needs time, I know. The alternative means violence, keeping control and constant struggle. I believe in calmness in a process of changing and go for it.
I was to buy a used car so I told my friends to ask around. Let also know Mark from the workshop in which I have checked and repaired my car for several years. After some time he put me in touch with the person who wanted to sell his car having been regularly serviced at their workshop. I with my friends went to see the car and then we had a discussion.
The male part of our expedition decided that for that price I would find a better offer and to prove that they sent the links to the attractive offers on the Internet. Even though I appreciated my friend`s support and commitment very much, I was feeling a kind of tiredness and resistance to it.
It was the first time to me that I was buying a used car. I realized that the most important thing was to be sure that there was no hidden surprise and the information given by the owner was reliable. I found Mark`s recommendation really valuable and could see how much it was connected with my perception of him as a man and a professional. Since my first visit to his workshop I have always felt safe and peaceful. My inner radar for detecting a lie has been giving no signal, quite contrary – I have experienced kindness and honesty there. And the cherry on the top – his special good manners flowing so naturally. All that was consistent, light and inviting. And 100% real.
What in the issue was the most important?
The most alive in me was a joy of giving up control and diving into trust to myself and my intuition. Thanks to that I was following the opinion of the man I almost didn`t know. Having been touched and connected at the deeper level I enjoyed and appreciated that experience and wanted the others to see and acknowledge it, too. When I heard criticism of his recommendation I received it as it was the criticism of my truth and taking a course to control and fear.
I was for the third time with my friend and his dog Alex on Sunday socialization meeting. I love to go there every week although I do not have a dog. The socialization means for several dogs and their owners to get together and do… nothing special. The couples a man-a dog walk around on the grass surrounded by a fence over an hour. At the beginning all the dogs are on the leash as there is an extremely nervous atmosphere. They bark, yap and snap. After a quarter they get calmer and more peaceful and the conflicts comes occasionally. Then the trainer who is a behaviourist appoints the dogs to be unleashed one by one and after 40 minutes almost all of them run on their own. The care of them is taken over by the behaviourist and the only job for the dogs` owners is to continue smooth walking with no calling their dogs. When I remember what was at the beginning of the meeting it seems unbelievable that the same dogs can greet, pass each other by, and even play.
Alex has made a progress. Last Sunday she showed the interest for the others dogs, tried to sniff them and even join the group however with some uncertainty. On the first meeting she was only barking, snapping and showed her teeth on every attempt to get closer to her.
The simplicity and power of that exercise attract me like a magnet.
The dogs` job is just to be. And with their owners` backup to experience the presence of other dogs. Those which are less familiar with social life can learn playing, getting in touch and greeting from the others. They do not need to face their owners` anxiety who can liberate from stress then. They can let it go away that their dog “should” behave in a good way and they themselves “should” react correctly to any bad behaviour. The couple a man – a dog learn to be together in a more relaxed way.
Step by step, with no pressure neither constraint the change for better is being made. The benefit is for both a man and a dog. The lightness and naturalness of that reminds me Zen coaching.
The journalists and politicians try somehow to respond to the words or decisions by Jarosław Kaczyński who is introducing in Poland the revolutionary changes in an uncommon way. Their trials connect me with the feeling of helplessness and confusion. As if their efforts are appropriate to the reality but not that one we have now.
Ewa Wilk in Politics magazine described the specific kind of a community which can be present either in a social, political, private life or a religious one (a sect). Such a group creates their separate world with their own understanding of reality and values, unconditional surrender to a leader and the most important – in opposition to the outside world which is described as dangerous, bad, immoral and hateful. To maintain and develop the community the threatening image of outside world must be constantly supported. It must be used as a bogeyman and be refused to have any values, be disgraced and attached to the worst intentions. It is only that community to deposit the precious sense and fulfilment. And the fight for that by all means must be going all of the time. This is how I see now the reality in his political party.
I believe that Jarosław Kaczyński`s intention is to act for the well-being of Poland and the Poles. He finds his uncommon way to the truth and good as the only one. What I do miss in that approach is the acknowledgment of diversity which naturally exists in the real world. When something is different it needn`t to be wrong, shameful or dangerous. How much pain a man must contain in himself if he chooses such a way to act for good. I feel compassion for his suffering and loneliness.
Ewa Wilk`s article shows one more thing – any efforts of the opposition to seek a co-operation and mutual understanding cannot be efficient as there is no space for it in the strategy of such communities. The soon it is seen the less time and energy will be wasted.
Since I started to live in a more mindful way, I have been watching how challenging for me is to stay with the feelings like sorrow, uncertainty, powerlessness and confusion. I happen to run away from them so fast that can see what is real only after some time. Why do I reject the part of my own experience? There is a sweetness as well as a bitterness, warmth and cold but I am reluctant to accept that I can feel either joy or sadness, lightness or heaviness.
I have started to look at myself and managed to discover that deeply under that feelings there is my negative judgment about myself. How is it possible? Not only I suffer sorrow and sadness but also I am criticized by myself? I remembered the belief that majority of feelings are resulted from the thoughts.
I try to catch my thoughts then.
When I wake up too late in the morning I feel dissatisfaction and confusion. I managed to notice the thought that I should have woken earlier because need to use the day in an effective way and be doing something. When I feel discomfort on somebody`s passive aggression in his e-mail I can notice that there are some thoughts like: he doesn`t like me, I am not good enough.
They are thoughts only but can create my well-being or destroy my day!
However it sounds unbelievably it is the hard experience that opens the way back to ourselves. It brings a transformation gift. If I do not run away by immediate doing, explaining and talking away and manage to stop to notice my thoughts, then feelings and sense my body, the more I can see and get in touch with my real needs and heart longings. As I acknowledge and feel my true heart longing I go back to myself from the place of uncertainty and anxiety to that of peace and understanding. In the model I am going to introduce in my programme “Closer to yourself” I call it “a transformation path”.
I am going to my daughter for the Easter breakfast. I am late but trying not to speed up and go at 50 km/h. I am the only one, all other cars are overtaking me and I have some thoughts about my current driving style.
Since I started driving at a slower pace I have noticed that the traffic lights are synchronised so that I do not need to stop at a red traffic lights on my way if I do not exceed 50. In Independence Avenue it is a standard – we start going at a green light and some put the pedal to the metal. When I am approaching at my “50” the next traffic lights I can see them waiting at a red one. Finally I take my foot off the accelerator and when they start sharply again I smoothly pass through to repeat the same scenario on the next crossing.
How can it be that the majority of us repeat something which is not efficient and in addition harmful to the environment? I remember that I used to drive in that way and get angry with the drivers like me now. I was speeding, getting upset and calling them the unpleasant names.
I can notice even now that when I need to be in time and it is late there immediately awakes in me that “must” of speeding up. It is not easy to me to leave the old habit and come back to my “50”. What is the point?
Once I start going faster I get the feeling that I am doing something. It can usually give me the chance to save not more than 1, 2 or 5 minutes but the fact of speeding up makes me feel as if I change my matters for better. It looks that I must do something, react or resist when the circumstances are not exactly as I would like to be.
What if we try to give up and not to do anything special? It might appear that nothing terrible has happened and we are surprised how cool it is to liberate from a must and feel free.
It succeeded. After the three uncertain weeks we finally were going to the theatre however it had been a big question till the end because of the leading actor`s health collapse. My heart trembled when I saw him after that struggling. I find him still weak and paying a lot for going for his mission, almost non-stop on a stage.
I remembered the saying that the absence of an actor in the theatre is justified only by his death as the meeting with the audience is of the top importance.
I noticed in me the mix of feelings. Admiration and respect for his determination to be committed to his values and principles. Understanding how nourishing for an actor is the play – the unique and moving act of creation being done in the common space with the spectators.
Yet, the part of me felt the resistance. His body weak and bone-tired was begging: “stop it, stop it” but something stronger was insisting: “go, go”. I reminds me my last year painful experience when I was pushing ahead and ignoring the signals from my organism which had led to the exhaustion of having chance for no work or normal living.
Somehow we are not delighted when someone cannot handle something or back away.
We hear neither appreciation nor honour in the news that someone gives up. We acknowledge and award breaking ourselves, toughness and the fight with ourselves. The latter especially sounds for me worrying and strange. Where is the room for understanding, compassion and love?
What if we follow what naturally emerges and leads? Life as a journey with curiosity and openness for what comes even if it differs from our expectations and goals? Without constant fear and tension that it is going to be far away from what should be, but fully consistent with our inner truth?
May it be more effective?
I was encountering empathy in many places but it is the empathy in Zen Coaching to take a special place in my life. It has the quality of a kindness, warmth, a deep contact, a connection and coming back to yourself. Can you learn the empathy of that kind?
The traditional teaching is based on the knowledge, the skills to analyse and to conclude. When I learn empathy I need different qualities. Empathy is about the being so I immediately recognize the teachers who prefer experiencing and reduce the amount of lectures. Those who help their students to build their own independence and self-confidence in their life outside the workshops, convince me even more.
But there is something much more important.
The empathy in Zen Coaching is not a communication technique but a deep and heartfelt way of being in a common life which is determined by the authentic contact with what is real. To see what is real and not to run away – it sounds like a huge challenge for most of us as the staying with our discomfort, suffering or loneliness can be overwhelming. How can we admit that we are afraid of the critical thoughts about ourselves or desperately long for love, acceptance and work hard not to feel that? How can we be in a real life if we cannot get closer to it?
This is exactly the room for an empathy teacher. It would be perfectly if he has managed to meet his own pain and can embrace and accept it. But sometimes it can be too difficult for him, too – how to accompany and support his students then? It is quite enough to see and acknowledge that struggling and not to hide it behind the knowledge or skills because the most important competence if you teach empathy in Zen Coaching is to be true to yourself and the others. When the teacher offers only his expertise and intelligence it means no chance for experiencing love and empathic connection. Then it remains nothing but learning about the empathy.
I stop working and get up from the computer to continue cleaning of the bathroom I started yesterday. I smile to myself as I remember my son and the struggles with him when we were living together. When I was watching his way of cleaning I couldn`t stay calm. After he had only started he made a break and went back to his room and computer. After some time he came back, continued cleaning and went to his room again. I remember how I felt upset and helpless and tried to insist on: “Cannot you clean all that at once? You will get rid of that then.” I was asking but it was a disapproval as thought that it should have been done all at once. I had no idea to understand and get interested in his reasons.
When I gave up the office job and began working at home, one day I was surprised to realize that I was doing exactly in the same way like my son. I just experienced that such a diversity and rotation was very supportive in getting rest from a concentration and an attention focused on the single thing only.
It showed me that it had been him to be in a contact with what was supportive and alive and I was overwhelmed by “should”. His intuition and sensing himself were much more effective. A male intuition, does it exist at all? Can it be equally good as a female one? I believe that in spite of different behaviours, upbringings and a construction of brains of both genders, deep within our hearts we are the same in feelings, needs and our most profound longing for connection. Women from Venus, men from Mars means for me only the brilliant observations of what is superficial and separating, not what is truly connecting us.
I am working on the cycle of my own Zen coaching workshops. Since I was certificated for a Zen coach almost 3 years ago I have been experiencing and exploring what was really mine in Zen coaching, what was the most important to me and effective in supporting of my being. I have been focusing on offering the sessions, doing exercises on the trainings and workshops and trying to live Zen coaching in my daily life. Now I have reached the place where I want to share Zen coaching also on my own workshops.
The Zen coaching process is both a starting point and a framework of the cycle. I find it the heart of Zen coaching as it is the process where the deepest human longing is being met – of connection and being oneself. In the fullest way it goes on a Zen coaching session, however in our daily life it can be practiced in its elements like mindful being, listening or responding from the heart level. It is enough just to start with small steps and check if it suits and works.
It is the way I have been changing the relationships with my relatives, friends and also myself. I enjoy every time when I manage to leave my old style and I can listen and respond with empathy. My willingness and commitment to continue grow then. I do not have to rush myself, discipline or press to do anything. It goes naturally at its own pace. The most important in that process is to acknowledge what is true – I do not fool myself and try to see when I fall into my old routine.
I was thinking about a title of the cycle. When I was telling to my ex-husband about my work on the workshops it clearly and simply came out that I didn`t want to rack my brain but give the title from my own life: “To be closer to yourself”. It was just the repeated question „How can I be closer to myself” I started my journey with. Many years ago I realised that my happiness did depend on the others and how much I expected love and acceptance from them. I was surprised to see that I actually did not know myself, recognise myself or my needs. I did not offer to myself any kindness, interest, compassion or understanding. I was longing for the closeness to myself and began searching for it.
What could my son give for Christmas to his sister? What could the dad give them? What could they give to their dad? All of the time the new ideas are jumping out of my mind and I share them with my family members. I can see how cool and easy to come they are and I choose to stop for a while to explore that.
I think of my current life style and life quality. I am not be running any more, do not deal with the several matters over one workday, do not waste my time and energy for things of no sense or use for me. Since I liberated myself from pressure of doing things which were not in line with me, I have felt more freedom and lightness.
I remember when my boss handed over to me the document confirming my new position as an expert and after 7-month of waiting I finally reached the end of my managing of the department in the company. It took me only 3 days after that to have invented the solution which was so innovative that much surprised myself and much more my boss who looked a bit frightened. It was like I went to an ocean and had access to the unlimited creativity. I was developing the idea easily, effortlessly and with fun. I felt a sense and a value of what I was doing together with joy and spontaneity.
Later when I started preparing myself to leave the company the only I knew was that didn`t want to work for another corporation. When I was fearful of the coming change I had the emptiness in my head and did not have any idea where to leave for. But every time when I managed to get in touch with optimism and trust there were coming out the new ideas I had not even thought of before. As if the door opened and released them.
I was exchanging the emails with my daughter about our plans for the next day. Our own ideas about doing things together didn`t meet each other immediately. I had a look at her email once more and thought that it was mine as they both were ended with the same question: “What do you think of it?”. When I saw it I felt touched and happy. I love such kind of contact with the flexibility and space for the other person. You can talk, hear each other and search for what is common. There is flow, connection and peace. Also a kind of dance and fun. And I could experience that with my daughter!
It reminds me that recently I proposed to my friend some changes to our common undertaking and my email was concluded with the same question: “What do you think of it?”. I did not receive any answer but could see that a part of my proposals was realized, a part was not. I didn`t know why. Whether I was not clear enough or some were not good for my friend or even something else. I had no chance to find out and felt confusion and sadness.
I know it very well. I was doing like that most of my life. I was taking the full responsibility and did not let anybody decide for themselves. Was working really hard to provide what I took as the best for them. I was not asking questions but guessing at their needs and doing my best to meet them. A huge effort, tension and frustration that the result was not as had been expected. It was not accompanied by a sense of being together but constraint and loneliness. Now when I have any idea for the common plans, being or doing I first ask the other side about how he or she sees my point of view, what thinks of it. With that question I offer both a curiosity and a willingness to accept “no” for my proposal. Behind that “no” there is always “yes” for his or her needs which I want to hear, understand and respect. But I will have no chance to know them if I don`t ask at least a single question.
On the last workshop by Claude Missiaen I was working with the psychotherapists who although introduce some news to their work, stay firmly grounded in a scientific knowledge and are stuck to their fundamentals. Claude offered the exercises in which the starting points were our personal experiences, real difficulties and blockages. We were using the focusing approach to work with a body and to direct to it our attention full of curiosity and empathy. It was exactly the way I am in a Zen coaching process with my clients. The practice on the workshop brought to me a deep spiritual experience – connection, trust and compassion.
I realised how close to me is such a way of experiencing spirituality when I begin with my real life situation or what I can sense in the present moment. And then a Zen coaching process opens for a spiritual journey by including all what emerges in “here and now”: the senses of the body, thoughts, feelings, images and sensations.
And any invitation for spiritual experiencing which means creation of the space in which the magic of words or rituals or someone`s charisma is supposed to work, does not attract me rather makes me resistant.
My friend was sharing with me her painful memories. She was saying through tears: “The friend of mine told me that I should have forgiven myself”. I could see her suffering and had compassion for her but those words about forgiving made me feel resistant. To forgive you need first to judge your or the other`s action as bad or incorrect. Then to diminish or cancel something existing from the level of a harm or feeling guilty? It doesn`t speak to me at all. Judging, diminishing or cancelling is for me about denying what is alive and true.
When I was feeling pain or discomfort I used to immediately find someone guilty. I criticised and threw the charges: “You are…”, “How could you do this to me”, “You do not care”. I hit with the judgments in anger but it helped only for a while, one second or two. Then I felt badly, like in a trap. After many years I understood that what I really needed was acknowledging of my own suffering. Acknowledgment means non-denying and non-downplaying, non-running away into work or explaining, doing or blaming. Instead of all that it was enough to stop and recognize with compassion: “I can see how you suffer, how difficult it is for you”. Having been given the attention in that way it brought soothing of my pain, relief and liberation. It also helped me in understanding the situation and needs also of the other person. As if the habit of blaming was keeping me with the iron grip, taking freedom, clarity and separated from life.
The same is with feeling guilty. For a long time I was blaming myself for being to my kids too demanding, controlling, non-listening and focused only on “should”. Only when I felt compassion for myself for living in separation and loneliness I managed to see my children`s suffering and then to open my heart to compassion to them.
I learnt to ski over the age of 40. I did not acquire such ease like in ice skating, which I have known since my childhood. There is always some uncertainty in my body on ski although I can feel a big fun at the same time. During my second ski season the friend of mine suggested me to ski down on the black route. I thought he was joking as I was easily skiing only on the blue and with some tension on the red ones. However he said: “When you ski down on the black you will get more of a self-confidence. If you ever happen to encounter the black route you will not panic because you will know that you can manage it”.
I remember that moment when I was standing at the top of the slope and looking at the little figure of him waiting on the bottom. I had in front of me an unimaginable abyss and felt fear. But I also felt a bit of trust which supported me to try. When I pushed off with my poles and began sliding I felt only confidence to my body and the embracing belief that it would be all right. After that experience it was exactly as he told me. On the red ones I immediately started to feel more relaxed and I could go down on the black ones however with no enthusiasm.
I remembered that story on the celebration of Agnieszka Radwańska`s victory in the WTA finals in Singapore of the 8 world best tennis players in a current season. Her last three matches were absolutely outstanding. She delighted with her magic shots, bravery and effectiveness. It was especially in the 1st set of the match with Petra Kvitova when I sensed Agnieszka to have been in a perfect harmony, confidence and her power. There was also mentioned in the comments that Amelie Mauresmo only after her victory in the WTA finals won her first Grand Slam title which has been still Agnieszka`s biggest dream.
I do believe that now on the court it will be easier for Agnieszka to connect with confidence, freedom, joy and her rare talent.
I heard that recently my close friend had gone through tough time of confusion and sorrow. She had been feeling anxiety that had lost a sense of being herself and anchoring in life. She hadn`t shared that and had been trying to cope with that overwhelming experience on her own.
It reminded me of what had been happening in my life over last year. I was alone too. This was my pattern of reacting to life difficulties and obstacles which always motivated me to bigger effort and increased endurance. I did not give up, claim nor ask for help. My family members and close friends have known such me for years and have been used that it is me to take responsibility for the others and to support with strength and peace. Another me weak and in need of help has not been seen nor acknowledged in my circles.
When the joy of life is fading away it is difficult to recognise that something goes wrong. It is not obvious like a broken leg or a hospital stay.
The more the suffering were taking me away from life the more I was desperately struggling for maintaining normality and my usual being. I was breathing, talking, walking, giving sessions, and cooking meals. I even was telling how difficult all that was for me bur who could really hear that as I always managed everything perfectly. And how to help then, what to do?
The help came in an unexpected way. The masseur with whom I shared in June my troubles just said: “We shall overcome”. I heard in her voice self-confidence, commitment and a magic “we”. I was coming home in completely different mood. I sat on my couch and could feel aliveness and lightness in my body. For the first time from months I got in touch with optimism and hope.
Sometimes the massage was bringing relief, sometimes not but I was able to start doing exercise and move my body. And the process of returning to life started with her simple words and my feeling that I was not alone.
At the beginning of November that full of challenges, surprises, fear and suffering year is going to be closed. It led me to the space I had never been to before. When I brought out from the worst I could in peace look at what had happened.
It started with the phone call in the middle of the night. My sister told me that something wrong was with our Mom and she was taking her to the hospital. I went to Olsztyn, was dealing with her life matters and it cost me a lot. I sensed as if I was surrounded by an invisible cotton wool, some kind of resistance which made the results of my attempts weaker or completely fruitless. I felt exhausted and lonely then.
When I was still there I heard from my Mom`s sisters that her painful life story is not true. My Mom saved them from the orphanage and was taking care of them many years. She had to work very hard, day and night and postponed her longings for setting up her own family and continue her education. That part of her life was just denied and deprived of meaning by her closest family members. Going through that experience was very hard to me.
When I came back home my daughter moved abroad for 6 months. I felt happy for her as she followed her dreams but after some time I realized how much I was missing the heartful contact with her, mindful listening and understanding.
Not so long after that my friend with whom I had been working on the project over 2 years, unexpectedly backed away. I understood her reasons and did not blame her but I was left completely alone with the project exceeding one person`s capability. I tried not to surrender and fell on the work with double force.
After several weeks the severe health problems began. The spine, legs, arms and wrists, one after the other, first were painful then got weak so much that I was able neither to sit for longer nor to work on a computer. I frightened then as had never experienced such sensations before. When I was trying to do anything for help it was getting worse.
I was watching how I was slowly finding myself far away from what had been my life. I resigned from sport, moving, going out, meeting people because of fear that it could make me feel worse. I was not able to work on the project, do shopping like before, cleaning my apartment and driving a car. I was losing freedom the obvious quality of my life and each day I had to live alertly not to make any faults in thousands of daily activities. Any additional stress directly made it worse too. No one managed to help me. I was cowering in helplessness and anxiety. I remember one moment of being so tired and tormented that the thought “I am fed up of my life, I cannot handle it any longer” came to my mind. I felt scared as that thought was so unlike me as if I was not myself.
Now I sense that I was approaching the dangerous and gloomy place, the verge of what is alive. I managed not to be overwhelmed by that and did not cross over. I was suffering and feeling fear but could see what was going on and I was trying to keep a contact with that as far as it was possible to me. The consciousness was like a thin but strong thread connecting me with life.
I came back home with one clear thought in my mind: “I would never recommend that doctor to my daughter”. The next day I already felt confused, angry and helpless. As if I was regaining awareness and a contact with myself. I was remembering how he had behaved and couldn`t find a single thing that met my standards. He was too direct, telling dirty jokes and boasting of creating relaxed atmosphere contrary to other gynaecologists. Was telling about his private life, giving comments to my sexual activity and laughing at the other patients. He seemed to enjoy that abuse of his special position. I could not believe that I hadn`t protest against and had undergone all that.
I felt confused as before the visit I had visited the web site with doctors` ranking and saw that among 37 patients 35 had gave him very high assessment. Only after the visit I read the comments. Those 2 women criticised clearly his inappropriate and rude behaviour. Some of those 35 opinions contained statements like “that easy way is not likely to be approved by the women oversensitive about themselves”. Why hadn`t I read that before!?
What does it mean “the women oversensitive about themselves”? The author seemed to suppose that his style cannot be approved because of excessive and unjustified expectations. It reminded me the study reporting that there is the surprisingly high percentage of Polish women who are satisfied with their sexual life. I was a bit astonished too but the expert sexologist explained that the Polish women have low expectations in that sphere of life. And he added that there is no need to worry as when you have low expectations you can be satisfied with everything more easily. Really no need to worry about?
On the walk in the forest I was passing by a lot of people. Usually they look away but this time almost every person was staring me. What`s the matter? I was wearing a hat on my head and it was summer.
I started doing that recently if there is a strong wind, a cold air or in a hot day I enter the shop with air-conditioning on.
While the majority find the temperature warm and comfort enough I need to wear warmer clothes to prevent severe problems with my sinus, bronchi and also spine. I have been suffering more and more from that extreme overreaction to cold. Till now no one could help me with that and very few are open to understand and acknowledge.
I can recognize that gaze from far away. It doesn`t seem to be just a look at a person passing by but rather a stare kept to the last moment. Sometimes a comment, an ironic or a witty question are put.
Although I got used to that I do not find it pleasant. I feel confusion and discomfort then. What can I see in that reaction? Fear, uncertainty? Who is she to wear a hat now if no one does? After all a hat is not worn in summer. Why does she dress differently from the others? Is she an artist, a freak or a provocateur? Perhaps out of mind, ill? A stranger? What`s the matter? No idea seems to be confirmed upon the long study of me because that uncertain and fastened eyes accompany me to the end.
What if I had been wearing a headscarf instead of a hat and been of different colour?
I was chatting with my close friend and suddenly I found out that she supported that party. I was completely surprised. I perceive that party very badly not only because their programme but first of all the way they treat people and communicate their truth. If you think differently you become an enemy for them who should be eliminated or re-educated. When anything appears not to be in line with their expectations they produce a lot of blaming, abusing or offending. When you do in your own way you are assigned the worst intentions through aggressive and disparaging language. They constantly fuel fear and uncertainty in people.
I felt confusion, disconnection and hesitation. My stomach was contracted. How is it possible? – the thoughts emerged immediately. I could not believe that someone close to me can support such organisation. In all that confusion suddenly and like a rescue ring a curiosity came out. I intuitionally followed it and asked her a simple question: “What attractive do you find in that party, what do you like in it?” I sensed as the asking the question itself brought a bit of ease and space. As if the thoughts were tightening me and the question released.
I am happy that she wanted to tell me her reasons and I truly wanted to hear them. There is one aspect in the party programme which I find as marginal but for her is meaningful. It is her focus and is enough. In one moment I was tempted to start with “But…” to discuss and convince her. Then I realized that didn`t really want to do that. The more I was listening and seeing how important it was to her, the more easily I could understand and acknowledge her truth. Although I didn`t still share her political affinities, the listening helped me to be closer and melted the resistance that had been built in me. Finally I felt acceptance and connection. Peace.
He was smart, witty and hard-working. Was seducing and charming with the style full of ease and self-confidence. Most of my colleagues regarded him as the best manager they had ever met. However after two month of our co-operation I felt discouraged. I was missing a partnership in the relationship with my boss.
Is it possible to experience a partnership between a subordinate and a superior? Where do I see a core of partnership? That subject has come back to me also while working later on my private projects. It has given me the opportunity to explore how it is for me.
The first thing that comes to my mind is equality. The equality not of that kind that everyone contributes the same and in the same way rather what is agreed and possible. If the foundation of the partnership is an acknowledgment and appreciation of what the sides are able to contribute, each partner is valuable and important enough and therefore equal.
Honesty and trust are connected for me with equality, too. Saying to the partner in the open way important things especially what is uncomfortable or what are the real intentions and purposes. Listening and respect for my truth and my partner`, whatever it is. The same with commitment and responsibility which includes not only a work but also feeling and needs. When something doesn`t fit me or I feel irritated I tell it from the level of care of me and the partner rather than blaming and judging.
There is something which can poison any kind of co-operation. It is when you treat it as a battlefield to prove your value. When it is so all of the time you have switched on the judging and comparing. It seems to be very difficult to be then in touch with joy, creativity or growth.
I find equality in the partnership as natural as precious. Perhaps that`s why when my boss surprised by my openness criticized me: “I have never met such things before. Yes, we are different” I responded immediately and straight from my heart: “It is good. We can enrich our lives then”.
I was not sure about going to dance. It was the band to play but I felt tired after all the treatments and could not imagine how to have a good time in a health resort. We were sitting on the couch in the lobby and listening to the band music and staying in our doubts. To go or not to go. Ziuta, the friend of ours met on the physiotherapy exercises found us sitting there. She recognized our hesitation however did not press but kept repeating in a calm way: “let`s go”. We finally found 7 Polish zloty each, entered the room and were surprised to see the band of only one person, the second happened from time to time to join on the guitar. I did not even notice where the music was coming from.
I walked onto the floor and felt how much I had been longing for dance. I fully dived into movement, rhythm and the sensing of my body. I stopped only for breaks. Felt a great desire for play. It didn`t matter that the music was completely different from my taste and there were missing partners for dancing. Even though it was tango or slow pieces I was dancing on my own or with other ladies. I was fully in joy, fun and felt light-hearted.
When on my request they played “The rocking horse” song (Konik na biegunach) by Urszula, I really felt power. The strong rock beginning released the unexpected energy in me. I was jumping as if I was half of the age and was surprised of that strength.
When we got back home my friend fell on the bed but I was still so excited that I resembled a bit of a motormouth. I was slowly getting realized how much I had been separated from energy and juicy life. How much the pain and loneliness over the last moths got contracted and tightened my body and how I was happy to reconnect with the life source.
On the last day when I was walking the lobby of the balneotherapy centre I was recognizing and greeting the half of the persons I was passing by. I was surprised to realise that managed to remember their short stories told to me when we were waiting together for the treatments during my 2-week stay.
What made me keep in mind the stories of almost 20 patients of the health resort I had never met before? The story about the kids who had been so unhappy with the field work that decided to leave when they have grown up and now they live overseas. About dissatisfaction that the skin did not smell of sulphur after a sulphur bath. About daily driving to the health centre from home because of the heat in the hotel. About 10-year resistance against the knee surgery. About the delight of the mud bath.
I realised how true and alive those stories were. Those people were telling me about what was directly related to themselves. What were they unhappy about, suffering from or what they liked. They were sharing the part of their lives and how they were feeling about that.
It reminded me how I was participating in the weekly meetings of the therapeutic group. Everyone could bring any issue to the group. After some time I noticed that my stories were different. Short, brief and cold. As if I reported my own life from the distance. I habitually processed before sharing anything that had happened to me. Analysing, explaining, justifying and finally concluding. A long mental process taking away from the feelings and the reality.
Now I find it as a nuisance when in a private relationship somebody tries to share such processed stories. Sometimes I get involved in a discussion. Mostly I keep away as I do not feel flow or life then. I like the most when one tells about what happened to him and how he feels just from his heart. Like the woman who shared with me that she was fearful because any little motion of her neck was causing an awful pain and she could not imagine how to get home 130 km away.
We were about hanging the advertisements on the estate and I noticed that my friend was nervous. When I shared that I felt stressed too, he was surprised. You stressed? – asked in both disbelief and relief.
I was chatting in the evening with my friend I haven`t seen the whole year. I shared with her what have been the most difficult for me. I was telling about my big efforts and helplessness in going through the isolation when I was trying to organize help for my Mom. How I was feeling loneliness, pain and lost hope when I was ill. My friend was completely surprised. How could I experience that if I have all those personal growth tools and methods?
Next day I shared with my Daughter what was still alive in me. We were going by car and in spite of my driving I couldn`t break out of crying. She said that had no idea that it has been going with me like that. She had been thinking that my life has been well-ordered.
It stopped me. What does the personal growth mean to me? Is it that I do not experience pain, loneliness, longings for love and freedom? That I know more or can explain some things? Personal development brings the value to me if I can experience authenticity in there. I can recognize and call what it is real in my life and not waste my energy for denying or proving anything about myself.
I still happen to judge, criticise, act by “should”, not to listen in an empathic way. I happen to feel alone, lost, fearful and painful. Sometimes I lose a contact with myself, especially when I am challenged and react by habit.
My personal growth means not getting rid of all those unpleasant things but seeing, acknowledging and telling them. It also means that I can find a space to embrace it even If I get aware of what has been happening after two days, weeks or months. When I do not judge, fight, work on it but allow – I can feel acceptance, compassion, closeness and I am myself. That I why I do not defend myself against seeing my truth but I search for it.
My kids are my teachers. I have once read that and had no idea what it meant. Today I can say that I feel very much grateful of my Kids for their involvement in my growing and learning new things.
I change my life in a manner that works for me and suits the most. It means to be open to the experience, the heart movements, and feelings, also those difficult. From the very beginning my Daughter has been supporting me to learn an empathic communication. Once I started to listen to her in a new way, she started to answer in a new way, too. More trust and openness came out. I felt both moved and motivated. My Son has contributed in a different way. He delivers challenges and his way of being happens to make me resistant and cause difficulties.
He often speaks with extremes, epithets, harsh judgments. Every time when I used to hear his critical comments and opinions I disapproved that and insisted him to change his language to less aggressive. And it usually resulted in breaking out the conversation. It had been working like that till the day when I told the story about the raped girl and the police which treated her in a shocking way. My Son reacted in the very harsh and strong words. And then something hit me. I did feel how much his heart was touched by that story. I realized for the first time that this was his way of expressing himself and his truth. It was his language which didn`t have to win my approval. When I was getting focused on his manner of expression I became deaf to the message of his heart.
Since that talk I have been more relaxed in receiving the aggressive and critical talk of the people. I try not to be so attached to the form, rather to recognize the calling of the heart for love, freedom, peace and trust which is behind the aggression.
Some time ago I met my ex-close friend. After one and a half hour of talking I realized that all of the time he was telling about his job, personal things, challenges and problems but was not interested in what might have been important to me. He did not ask me a single question.
I remember how I met my Mom`s friend. They see each other several times over a week for a couple of years. But it was the one-hour chat with me in which she shared much more personal things than in all their friendship. Why? Because I was showing an interest of her and asking her questions. In my family there is the principle that no one should be asked. If someone wants to tell something private he will do it on his own. But he often does not tell because is not asked. A vicious circle.
What do I ask about? When I do not know the person I ask rather about the facts: “Where are you from?”, “What do you do in life?” Then when I get the answer I can guess or continue asking. Instead “You live in Toscana. Wonderful!” I can say “You live in Toscana. How do you find living there?” I love those open questions the most: “How do you receive that?”, “How is it for you?” are the sisters of the basic Zen Coaching question “What is happening now”. However I still happen to fall in my habit of guessing especially when I am nervous or in hurry. Last week I met my old friend who is going through a big change in his professional life. What I was really interested it was not what he is thinking of it or doing but how he is receiving all that. I was unhappy that had no chance to ask that valuable question.
When I guess or imagine about anyone I feel as if I ignore or diminish his existence, stop seeing him. I occupy his space and create his unreal picture in my mind. What he thinks, needs, likes or is afraid of. The most challenging are the stable relationships where everything is obvious – if I stop asking questions and rely on my own ideas I accept to be not with an alive person but the picture of him which was created and recorded in my mind. It is really difficult to get a closeness and understanding then. Difficult to be in contact with what is true.
I was asked to tell about Zen Coaching many times before. How it works, what is it and what makes it different from the others. It was really difficult to answer as I find the sense and core of Zen Coaching in the experience of ourselves. It is not common is our daily life. Not because it has the “hocus-pocus” or esoteric qualities available only to a limited number of people. Because since our childhood we have been losing a natural trust and contact with ourselves. We have tried to meet expectations of the authorities (parents, teachers, models “how to live”, “how to be happy”) rather than to follow ourselves.
I have been very much focused on my health last months. My spine has been painful almost constantly although I have been doing the physiotherapy. Cold is a pain aggravation factor. When my back feels a little bit too cold – it results in contraction of muscles, irritation of the nerves and pain. After a few days of calmness and hope it can happen the unguarded moment and all that comes back again. The worst was in May when I felt paralysed by pain. It is still a traumatic memory for me.
I got realized that my apartment has become the safest space for me now. I can see how difficult it is for me – it means a limitation of freedom and contacts with people. I brought this as an issue to the last Zen Coaching session I was offered.
And then a surprise – I could see again how Zen Coaching supports in reaching the truth not necessarily what is produced in my mind. I had believed that the source of my sadness and suffering was the lack of care and compassion, loss of hope. However in the process there emerged the longing for life, energy and move. It came spontaneously, I could feel it in my body, in me – “yes, this is it”. I felt the longing for life, from which I have been separated more and more. Felt also touched and relieved. And how to tell that to someone who has never experienced it before? How to tell what Zen Coaching brings?
During our lunch break on the workshop my friends and I took a walk in the small housing estate. In front of one of the houses there was the friendly dog running around and the sneaking cat. There was also the young woman. We began to talk. It was flowing and I was feeling joy and lightness. After some time her partner came out of the house – a bit curled up, was looking away and mumbling to her. He did not join us.
It reminded me the hundreds of similar situations. Sometimes I have the impression that the women are needed to their men to get them in touch with the world or the other people. It seems that without female mediation the contact is possible only from the level of the self-confidence supplied by a professional, financial or social position. But rarely from the space of curiosity and equality. One of my friends told to all that: “Perhaps this is how it should be?” A woman and a man in a relationship support each other in their own ways. I felt a kind of discomfort and resistance when I heard that.
If my life partner needs me as a go-between it means that he is not able to be in touch not only with the others but also with himself and me. He finds very difficult to trust and get closer to what is the most important in a human life – feelings and needs. The fear of what is true makes him closed and isolated. What qualities can be offered then in a close relationship? And what the closeness means in a daily life? An exchange of the current information or opinions, an operational and functional co-existence?
Once I was asked by the psychotherapist what I expected from my life partner. Not thinking too long I replied: “Understanding”. And I could see her confusion – “Yes, understanding, it seems to be a big expectation. It would be nice if he is fond of you, respects and takes care of you”. It sounded to me like the final verdict – she had the enormous life and therapeutic experience. Despite that I cannot still imagine that I am with someone who cannot trust and open his heart.
Today it has been a year since I opened my personal web site wpelni.pl. Since the very beginning I have been feeling excitement and watching how important it has been to me.
My intention was not to distribute the others` wisdom, thoughts and theories (although they happen to be very catchy and attractive) nor to invite the mind to acquire the knowledge, to process it and analyse in attempt to get the sense. I did want to speak to the heart and hope to get in touch.
The blog means to me the space where I can express myself and share with the others how I can find the Zen coaching qualities of being in my daily life. I write when I truly can and want to. I take my personal responsibility for what I deliver and represent nobody but me.
After I sketch the new entry I work on it to improve the language for telling my intention and being clear and understandable. A few days of such work gets me so close to it that the moment of launching is always touching to me. As if I say goodbye and let my child go to the world.
When I receive your response I feel moved. Whether it is a comment or a “Like it” on Facebook. I experience a warm connection, getting close in a heartful contact. I feel happy when I think that can contribute to your life. I find the sharing myself as the fullest and the closest to me way in which I can bring the value to the others` lives.
I feel particularly touched when my Son who regularly reads my blog, gives his response. There are still many unexplored paths in our relationship and I sense that this blog opens our hearts and allows to connect each other for a while.
We are just before the second round of the presidential election in Poland. My Son is telling His idea of the revolutionary change of the educational system. His Dad, who works at the University, is very much against. The emotions are immediately reaching their highest, the arguments are being spoken one after another. I am trying to ask the questions to get better understanding as my Son`s ideas seem very interesting but there is no space for it. After some time I manage to agree that Dad is for an evolution of the system as the extreme ideas have no evidence of being efficient. We have reached the point that everyone can remain in their own mind.
How to discuss – we are talking about. There is the question: “What is the way of changing the other`s opinion different from persuading, smashing the arguments, targeting the weak points?”. Then my question is: “What is the purpose of a discussion – is it really a change of the other`s opinion?”. “Why to discuss then” is coming from my Son. It stops me for a while to explore that.
“What is the purpose of discussing” means to me the same as “What is the purpose of talking”. The sense of talking is to hear each other, get closer, make a bridge for connection. I am far away from directing anyone to the right track, pursuing him to think or do in my way. I find it violent.
From “How to change somebody`s mind?” I prefer “How to contribute with value to somebody`s life?”. What do I do? I listen to the other`s opinion with openness and curiosity. It sounds incredible but an empathic listening itself has a deep transformational power. Then I tell about me - what I think, believe in, what I need and find important. After that exchange each of us can remain in our own truth or choose to change it. It goes naturally, freely and without fighting.
The Roland Garros the tennis tournament in Paris has just finished. It was lasting 2 weeks, but with no Polish players. Agnieszka Radwańska who is the best Polish woman player, the ex-world number 2, dropped out of the competition early on, after the first match. She has not been doing well recently, declining in the ranking and finally left the top ten. A lot of comments, analysis and advices what to do to regain her position have come thick and fast. It is interesting that I cannot find any single advice which corresponds to what I see and sense.
Since Aga`s matches started to be shown on TV I have been trying to watch all of them. However in that watching there is something I really don’t like. I always feel tension, irritation, some kind of discomfort. To enable myself watching her playing I need to iron my clothes – it is as if I am watching a bit and I am not at the same time. I was curious what that all was about as my favourite players` matches, even when they are losing, do not make me so tensed.
I have discovered that once I watch Aga`s behaviour I get immediately in touch with isolation and loneliness. I sense a lot of contraction and control which bring my body to discomfort. As I give my attention and a space for it I can feel connection to the longing for freedom, joy and spontaneity. I do not want to give any advice to her but the same wish as for myself – allowance and being fully in understanding and loving. This is the precious resource which also plays – in addition to technique, strength, stamina or a good serve. How to get it? I try to foster that in my step-by-step Zen coaching practice.
The next tournament of The Grand Slam, Wimbledon is coming together with the expectations to Aga to overcome the crisis. Interesting what happens next. And if I still need to set up my ironing board.
When I was a teenager I started to work in the cold store on my school holiday. It was a cutting off the bad parts of cauliflowers. The first day the manager said that we would be paid on a piecework basis. The work was really hard but I was doing my best. I was counting my boxes and looking forward to my earning. At the end of the 8-hour working day I felt exhausted, full of terrible smell and my hands were sore and swollen. Then the manager said that yet we were working for a fixed wage. I felt a huge sorrow. Found it as a con, a manipulation and a big unfairness – many of the girls were lazing around. I was going home and hardly holding tears. I felt embittered, sore and discouraged. Decided not to go back again to that work. I told my Mum at home what had happened. She reacted with anger and criticism. She thought that I had given up too easy. I felt lonely and unhappy then.
I am reminded of this story now when I have just decided to exit the prepaid 4-month personal development programme. I started it with enthusiasm and joy, but in the half way I sensed that I was not any longer with alive contact, energy and curiosity. I was several times in the situation like that before and there was always someone who was saying: “You feel resistance. This tells you something. Perhaps you go away from something or you avoid something”. Such words always make me irritated as I cannot hear in them any empathy, rather a camouflaged pressure “Do not give up. Get a grip on yourself”.
What do I need then? Understanding first, acknowledgment for my discomfort and sorrow. Not judging nor encouraging me to fight off or do something with it.
Only from the space of peace and allowance I can see what is true - whether I run away from difficulties or just leave what is not good for me. And the most important – I need to honour any truth, including that I choose to run away.
Last week I was asked by my Daughter to speak about her hard and important issue. She felt very upset and confused. She didn`t know what to do.
It was clear to me that the most important for Her in that moment was to feel and get aware of Her own feelings, needs and longings. I was convinced that the more She would be in touch with what was true and alive in Her the more She could choose what was truly Her. I was trying to slow down our conversation and offer the space for everything what might have emerged. I was asking questions, reflecting back, listening. Although it was not a zen coaching session I really enjoyed that I could stay with the zen coaching qualities. Finally after almost two hours we started to talk about solutions and explore Her intentions in the possible actions.
Such situations connect me very much with the sense that giving to the others my own advice, solution or judging are far away from what I really want to do. Why does someone seem to know better what is the most consistent with what I feel and need deeply within my heart? When I leave the habitual way of helping I can support somebody`s own strength and self-confidence. The creativity, lightness and peace is being awoken then. And I can feel how I get connected with respect and trust to life, love and unconditional acceptance.
It reminds me that over 10 years ago I started to bring to my life a big and difficult change. I experienced then a lot of criticism and disapproval from my closest family. And I remember very well that my cousin who visited Poland for a while told me: “whatever you do I will be on your side”. I will never forget those words. They went straight to my heart. It was the strongest support in my life I have ever been given.
I am in the forest for Nordic walking, sitting in the sun, the people around. The mature and smiling man approaches me and kindly ask about the sticks. He looks relaxed and well-kept. I feel resistance, hesitate to respond and try to cut off the chat. After some time I try to find out what`s the matter as I do like talking to the strangers. I realize that my first thought was that he must have been the common aged lady-killer. Why? Because in my life I can hardly meet a man who gets in touch only for enjoying the chat itself.
I remember when I was waiting in the car workshop and spoke to the man sitting next to me. He seemed to have got scared and in the short conversation repeated “I and my wife” many times.
5 year ago I was invited for a recreational private sail racing. I went on my own as my friend got ill but each participant was with someone. The marriages, groups, couples – they all were sticking together within their communities and keeping themselves away from me. Even appeared to look at me with a concern. There was also a group of four mature men from Białystok. When they decided to approach me and speak they did it in their full Four.
I know it well from my life. It is only recently that I look into the face of the person I pass and when I speak to someone I can easily gain an eye contact. When I hear a door ring I feel rather curious than fearful. I ask people for help in the street although I preferred before to search on my own. In a shop I am open to tell what I need and look for. I am not afraid any more to tell about myself to other people. When I pass the others in the forest on a walk I smile a bit if I only get an eye contact. I can hardly do that as the most of them look away.
How did it change, happen? No click neither a big bang, it has been only the little steps on my life path. Life means people for me, most of all I myself.
Recently I saw a magazine cover with the advice: “Go your own way”. Easy said but what it means in a real life? And how to do it if we have not done that.
For me it means to go for what is truly mine. To recognize that and acknowledge with no interpreting or judging. To trust and choose following myself closely.
How to see what is true in me?
I find it very supportive to stop and ask the simple question “what I really need now” especially when the situation seems to be evident. I usually wait patiently for what is going to come out. The response from the mind is very fast but that one from the heart needs more time and is easily told by the body which is sensed then as light and alive. I have been surprised to discover how big fun it gives me to keep checking out if these are really true in the present moment: “I have a coffee after having a bath” “I keep it only for me”, “I travel for a long weekend”, “I can hold on to the end”, “ I work over the weekend”, “I cook today”, “I take a walk after cleaning my apartment”, “I take part in it”, “I accept it”. I still experience myself in that way and feel that I begin to trust and understand myself better and better.
I try also not to deny what naturally emerges in me. My Sister told me some time ago that she had smelled something alarming in her apartment and then she added: “I smelled it but I explained to myself that it only seemed to me. I was suggested by myself that….” How powerful is that habit to resist immediately! What is naturally felt and sensed in a body is set aside and the priority is given to the thoughts and explanations.
Now if I recognise the thoughts in my mind like “No, it only seemed to me because…, that`s impossible as…,” they are quickly followed by the next ones like: “ Trust yourself, acknowledge it”. I can feel that the first ones are trembling and tensed and the second peaceful and mild. They get me in touch with tenderness and closeness and I choose to follow them.
I am sitting with a computer and chatting with my Son who lives abroad. I am suggesting Him to go to the doctor and try to get a diagnosis of the chronic disorder He has been suffering. The doctors in Poland have not managed to get it. The other country, different procedures and approach – it might be a chance. I can see a little bit of interest in Him – ok, perhaps but no enthusiasm. I understand, He is young, full of energy. Any disorders are perfectly carried by His life force. So far they have been only irritating and uncomfortable.
My Mom is taking part in the chat, too. She is 88, suffers from many diseases and disorders but still keeps the impressive resource of life energy. What attracts my attention is the state of Her soul.
The core of Her life was doing. Ability to overcome the biggest problems, Her extraordinary toughness and persistence. Her belief that any time She can rely on Her own strength and keep doing, dealing with, running and facing anything. It was the essence of Her relationship with life and that way it was making sense and value of Her life. Last year it happened that my Mom faced enormous and terrifying powerlessness. I read it as Her painful experience of losing the access to that life which had been Her life, Herself.
I wonder when I myself started to suffer more and more from diseases in my life and be losing that sense of firmness of my health? I realise that it was a natural opportunity for giving more space for my weakness. If I had allowed myself not to know how, manage nor endure and had accepted to surrender I would have been much more free and relaxed to be in life and acknowledge whatever comes.
Perhaps what I have been doing for my body in physiotherapy for many years means just searching for that part of me which is weak and helpless, calling for attention and love?
Many years ago I was doing my housework, the radio was on. Then I heard something that stopped me. Some music pulled me out of my thoughts and brought to the here and now. After some time I made a random choice in a shop and bought her album “Past forward” with the leading song I had heard before at home.
It is always special to me to meet her music and songs.
The only performance I saw was before Christmas and she was singing the carols arranged by A. Jagodziński. It was sponsored by the company I worked for and the board member – my boss was a hostess of the event. When we were chatting among managers in the foyer of the Concert hall she provoked by asking a question: “Auguścik? Who is that?” And to acknowledge it she asked me: “Aneta, do you know that Auguścik?” I was really happy to answer “Yes, she is my favourite jazz vocalist”. When we were leaving after the show she told me: “Now I know why”.
Then 6 years ago when I was staying in a guest house at the seaside, one night our hostess said with the special look in her eyes: I am putting something on, I had an interesting guest here. After only a few notes I shouted with a great surprise: “Grażyna Auguścik?!” She did the same: “How did you know that?!”
Yes, Grażyna Auguścik is still unknown in Poland. She has been living in the States for several years, singing in many countries but still kept her original Polish name which is rather a mouthful to the foreigners.
I am listening to her latest album “Inspired by Lutosławski” and as always I feel connected with the truth, freshness and natural lightness. Divinity.
I have just talked to one of the members of the family of my origin. I heard judgments and blaming shouted with anger. You are like…, you think that…, you imagine that… I feel very much moved and disconnected. So much aggression and criticism. No listening, no understanding. Some pain and fear. I know it very well.
I recall the exercise offered by Kåre on the zen coaching workshop last year. We were invited to remind such our behaviour or personal quality we do not like but we developed as a child because there was a very good reason for it. The first that came to my mind was my criticism. I have been judgmental and rigid for as long as I can remember. It was a kind of imperative to me to immediately judge people and their behaviour and as they were different from the expected, to fall into criticism.
That exercise brought me to a deep contact with myself. I was feeling touched and crying. When I went back to the childhood time I could sense very clearly a big fear in me. Then a constraint in my stomach emerged which I recognized of that time and have still experienced. I realized that my criticism was not about my self-confidence but being lost and suffering. When I stayed with that a little I could see how important was my family in that. Everything must have been exactly how my parents wanted. If I did not fall in with that I experienced disapproval and criticism. If I did I was rewarded with their approval or at least lack of criticism. When I met in my life something different from the correct or expected shape I always felt tension and anxiety. I was criticising and judging but could not feel any satisfaction. I even sensed like I was desperately struggling for something. Now I feel a deep compassion for that part of me – criticising, lost and lonely. For everyone living like that.
I am on the personal growth workshop and the participants ask about the details. If should it begin with a left leg or a right one? Should one sit or be lying down? To speak loudly or in private?
I feel how far I stay from that. I remember my resistance some time ago when on the other workshop I was corrected by the teacher as my hand was at the wrong angle during the mindfulness exercise.
Where is the space for me, exploring and feeling what fits or resonate in me? For trust and freedom and lightness?
I believe in a natural spontaneous process whatever it is about – making a decision, learning a new skill or exploring myself. The more freedom the better for me. I have already experienced that when I focus on the fulfilling instructions it breaks connection with the most valuable things. Then I try only to remember what I should do or say and in consequence judge whether I manage to do it well or bad.
The same is in a zen coaching session. When the questions “what to do next” or “what question should be asked” happen to come to my mind they are a clear sign I always enjoy. They remind me: leave the approach “I should deal with it” and just go back to the empathic listening and connection.
This is, among others, why I am fond of Zen Coaching. While it has its structure and principles I find in there enough space to be truly myself. I say “my Zen Coaching” to emphasize that I practise and offer it in my own way embracing myself.
I feel gratitude to Kåre Landfald, the founder of Zen Coaching that he has shaped it like that. I do not find Zen Coaching like the faith full of dogmas neither the big theory with the excessive number of details nor the single and only truth. A lot of stiffness or detailed instructions usually go together with the access barriers and control. And Zen Coaching, as far as I feel, invites and includes.
10 years ago on Saturday the Polish Pope passed away. I kept grieving and weeping over the weekend. Could also sense deep mourning all around. I am not Catholic and did not agree with Him in very many questions, however I had a great esteem for His authenticity and following His own truth. Appreciated His contribution to the transformation Poland had gone through to become an independent democratic state. I was aware that He was a moral and religious authority to many Poles and they loved Him.
When I came to my office on Monday morning I could feel the atmosphere of grief but we all began our regular work. I really wanted to do something to remember the Pope and acknowledge that sadness in us. When I came up with the idea to arrange a special meeting I immediately felt anxiety and fear. I had never done things like that before and it was around the religious matters I was not familiar with. At that time I was leading a department in the company so I asked my deputies who were Catholic to give their opinion. Very much needed support but to my surprise they did not approve my idea.
I was confused for a moment but then I felt very clearly that wanted to follow my heart. I invited the people for the meeting and after my short speech we observed minute`s silence in memory of the late Pope. The meeting seemed to be important also for the others. I was great, consistent with my values and sense and close to myself.
Recently I was asked by the friend of mine if my inner change has been developed slowly or rather like an outbreak. My transformation has been a long slow process and that experience was one of the many which if happen bring the inspiration and power to the next ones. I try them to be noticed and appreciated.
One of the participants of the just finished Focusing workshops shared that the Focusing process for him means to approach the mystery of life. It helped me to see again what I care on my personal growth path.
What I do like in Focusing and Zen Coaching is the reality of the process – it is at the present moment and means experiencing fully oneself including signals of the body together with images, symbols, colours, smell – anything that can emerge. The process invites mildness and understanding. Being in a deep real contact with myself always makes me feel touched. As if I meet a person close to my heart I miss a lot.
My several-year searching on personal development workshops has come from the longing of my heart to meet myself, to be closer in love, understanding and mildness for myself. Once I noticed that I was expecting the others to deliver me all that I started to be willing to be joyful and peaceful not because someone can offer me that, stays with me or confirms my value.
And since I felt the power of experience in making a change, I have been anchored in what is happening right now and resistant to drifting away in brilliant ideas, metaphysical concepts or a maze of theories.
The only reference to my choices has become my real being and my body that show me what to follow. Although the listening to oneself or a body can sound strange or distant for us who are used to be ruled mainly by the intellect, it has been proved to be the most efficient and reliable way in my daily life.
The public in Poland was recently shocked by the news that the teacher at the school in a small town was covering with the sticky tape the mouths of 5- and 6-year old pupils if they spoke without a permission. She was shouting at them and intimidating. The matter has been tracked down by the one boy`s mom. She was concerned with the strange behaviour of her kid and the big resistance to go to school. As she couldn`t figure out why she decided to put a Dictaphone to his school bag.
It has immediately brought back the memories of my Son when as a 5-year boy did not want to go to the kindergarten. He was crying, resisting and I was completely lost to see my Son`s reaction and not to understand them. I even felt upset and irritated. With the help of the experienced psychologist it became clear that the cause was the teacher in the kindergarten. She was harsh, demanding and was punishing the kids for many things and it made my Son fearful about being punished. Then I recalled that once, the only time my Son told us that the cause was the Teacher, but I did not believe, hardly heard that. She came across as very committed and reliable.
I took for ever to my heart two things: the most important at school for a very young pupil is a teacher and never ever ignore what a child tells about itself.
After several years my Daughter was going to school and we could choose the Teacher and her class. One was dark-hair, energetic and mature, the other – blond-hair, a little bit overweight and younger. I imagined that the younger is warm and kind however we asked our Son who had already been at that school. He was absolutely sure and with no doubts pointed to the dark-hair one. This time we fully trusted him and followed his choice which proved to be good for our Daughter. She enjoyed going to school and her Teacher. When we asked about the other teacher she gave a grimace of disapproval.
It is painful to me that I was willing at that time to trust rather the expert or mental schemes then my own child. That memory connects me with the feeling of compassion for my Son who was left alone without trust and understanding from the loved ones. I feel compassion also for myself that I was living so separated from my heart.
For many years I have undergone a lot of physiotherapy of different methods. Recently in Olsztyn I took an emergency therapy and during a session I felt a kind of connection and release. I was not sure if I was physically better afterwards but felt something special in the way of being of the physiotherapist. I asked for the number to his fellow therapists in Warsaw and after a phone call I intuitively chose one of them.
Then I read a bit about the method he uses in his work. I was surprised at how similar to zen coaching it is - the work with a body, mindfulness, meditation, softness and trust. Even though the process is much grounded in what can be touched and sensed in real, it might be difficult to explain and does not go within conventional frame.
My appetite for only tasting it and nothing more started to be growing in me. I felt aliveness and curiosity. It reminded me the times when as a child I was exploring the world out of the house with full freedom. It was like I was trying the food and surprisingly I recognized the forgotten taste of my childhood. It helped me to realize how exhausted I have been in attempt to find effective healing methods.
I tried to tell that to the physiotherapist but he was so preoccupied with explaining and resolving my alleged doubts that did not hear me – “I will send you some links, you can read more...” I smiled and repeated: “I do not want to know”. “Want to taste, I am curious what happens”. Then I saw a relief and joy on his face. I was delighted too. Once he is not under pressure to convince or prove anything there might be a chance that it goes naturally and effortlessly. Like in a childhood. Like in zen coaching.
I have that in me that can clearly detect the untruth. When there is a lack of consistency in what I experience I sense a kind of discomfort in my stomach. I used to be reluctant about trusting what I sensed in my body. Then I was staying confused and lost – there was a mix-up over doubts nourished by mind and trust flowed out of my body.
It reminds me the time in my life when I felt unhappy as a wife and a guardian of a family, but could not acknowledge it. I was denying, rationalizing, and convincing myself that I did not have any reasons for that. That I expected too much…, the children`s good… I was trying to run the family life in the way to feel the sense and happiness. The more I tried the more I felt overwhelmed and exhausted. And even more unhappy.
In zen coaching it is called a false essence. Then a person who is separated from freedom tries to behave in a freedom-like manner although it is fully controlled and forced. The one longing for value can make a lot of efforts in his life to prove that he is valuable. Once she suffers from disconnection from acceptance, she can arrange the situations and assign the special meaning to them to convince herself that she is loved and accepted.
Since I surrendered and started to acknowledge the truth I have abandoned forcing and pushing myself. I have managed to recognize the special radar in me and its great sensitivity. If someone tells a story, gives an opinion, or a perfect explanation and shows a great delight, somehow my body receives and understands when it comes from disconnection and pain and when from lightness and being oneself.
Last evening I went to buy some sweets. Felt a great desire for them and could not deal with it although I tried to make some efforts. Since I opened for cakes the back door in my health-diet, it has become a big gate for sugar and sweets which I want now more and more. The result is that I have gained weight.
For the longest time I have been fighting for my weight. When I had good time in my life I was slim and did not pay too much attention to the calories. When I felt unhappy I was eating sweets and getting fat.
A few years ago I did my own discovery which resulted directly from my life experience and the growing self- understanding. I realized that lack of closeness to myself I had been suffering was tied to the way I was being – unaware and separated from my feelings and needs, disconnected from what was true in me. I was ruled by a must of doing the correct and proper things. When I felt loneliness, discomfort, anxiety or fear I relied on some things or behaviour bringing a relief. Then I looked around and was surprised to see how common it was. Our well-being seems to depend on a partner, kids, work, travelling, sport, eating, alcohol, sex, success, playing, and development – a never-ending list.
The first place on my list in the childhood was taken by reading books. Now it is the sweets. When I want them I recognize that peculiar sensation in and around me. Sometimes for a moment I manage to get in touch with it. It is both intangible and strong and difficult to be resisted or ignored. I feel like it takes me from myself. I feel then anxiety that something powerful makes me separated from myself. There is also the criticism that I cannot deal with it. However gradually there is also more and more space for allowance and mildness, trust that I do not need to do anything about it. That allowance brings me a feeling of being more close to myself.
This time it was my Daughter to go abroad. I was feeling sorrow and told that I would miss her. She is one of the few to give me real understanding. I heard from her: “I also have the sense that you understand me”.
These words have been growing in me together with some feelings, thoughts and memories. It started to unveil what meaning it has had for me.
“You understand me” - heard from my own child. I could never dream of a more touching and tender confession.
For me it means: you listen and hear what I tell you. You neither judge nor comment, criticise, advise. You leave me a space for my independent being and respect it.
When I am angry or upset you can still hear my truth – a longing of my heart hidden underneath. You accept me. Receive that my choices are just as they can be at the moment. You support me even when I do in my own way, differently from yours.
I can be myself. Can explore and check what is really mine.
I am important to you. When you listen to me I am given your attention and time. As much as I need.
When I deeply listen to my Daughter`s words I feel touched. I also celebrate my profound personal change.
I remember what I was like years ago: critical, demanding, neither loving nor trusting to myself, fearful and controlling.
For years I have experienced that I cannot gift the others with anything unless I first gift myself.
Now I can tell from my heart to myself: “I understand you”.
“I love Olsztyn” is a song of the Red tulip cabaret. It is also the initiative around Olsztyn which is identified with the car stickers. I was watching them very often in the last two months during my stay there. As I returned to Warsaw quite exhausted I started to explore what was so difficult to me to have made me feel powerlessness with a sleep providing no recovery. One of the traces was the town itself.
I have begun to feel strange in Olsztyn for a couple of years.
I noticed the surprising and annoying organisation of the crossings with traffic lights which resulted in extreme long waiting for both cars and pedestrians. I could see also that in the very close centre of the town there was the 300 meter long fence which cut off the town space and prevented the people from getting across the street. All that for their good.
There is the entrance to the Central Park just from Kosciuszki Street offering to the students a perfect shortcut from their hostel to the University. I asked the policeman who was giving them traffic tickets whether the police had reported the need to build a pedestrian crossing there. He immediately answered that there was no possibility for that. The elders with sticks and the women with prams try every day to get across that street into the Park.
While I was arranging the assistance for my Mum I got in touch with the care assistant agency highly recommended in Olsztyn. I was told there that neither Mum nor I could choose the particular person for working. It was only the owner of the agency to identify my Mum`s needs and then to send the person chosen on her own!
I have started to receive Olsztyn as an oppressive town. I was encountering again and again the solutions and people`s behaviour which were provoking the resistance in me. It looks like the local authorities are using the violence with the intention to take care of the citizens – to limit, impose and force but above all – to punish them. The worst is that the residents themselves seem to be adjusted to that!
Earlier when I was asked where I came from I responded – from Olsztyn although it is Warsaw to be the place of my longest life stay. Now I wonder if I still feel connected with my home town. The separation and violence I was feeling there has made me feel really exhausted. “I love” can be said by me only when I am in a connection and flow.
I have just come back after 10-day stay at my family home. I went there after my Sister had alarmed me that our Mum had had a health incident and had been taken to the hospital. She is 87, independent and still has a very clever mind but her heart happens not to manage to do its work properly. Now it has become clear that She should permanently live with someone who can call for the emergency.
We both with my Sister are ready to invite her to live in Warsaw with each of us but it doesn`t seem to be the best solution – Her life space is where She lives now, with the kind and reliable neighbours, friends and the flower garden just behind the house. She has been living there for 54 years.
My Sister and I were considering various options and solutions. I thought also about my Mum`s younger sisters whose fate was tightly connected with hers`. My Mum saved them from an orphanage in the dramatic circumstances, then brought to Poland under a post-war evacuation from Vilnius region (now Lithuania) and after that took care of them as a mother. I wrote a letter to them to refer to the story and ask if they wanted to join our searching for the solution.
My Son expressed today his opinion that the letter had not been written in a way to achieve a goal. I stopped for a while to see better what my goal was.
When I sat down to begin a letter I was eager not to miss anything of that traumatic story. I was trying to reflect the truth and be focused on the facts. My Mum told me the details of the story only 2 years ago. She had not shared them with anyone before. Every time when She remembers the story cries and I can see how important it is for Her. It was clear to me that I wanted to respect Her truth and give a space to it.
Did I have any other goals except the acknowledgment and appreciation of Her life? No, I did not.
For me telling the truth has value in itself. It is like opening the door and waiting with trust and openness for what is coming.
Recently I was on the workshop “Existential focusing”. From the very beginning my attention was drawn by the man whom I found somehow close to me by his way of talking about himself and sharing after the exercises. It was like a click in me not clear nor understood. The last day we were doing exercise together and I felt touched and close a long time after we had finished. I was so curious that asked him about his life development path.
What I heard in response was both surprising and moving.
He had passed through the huge and difficult life change. The core of that experience was following his values and his own truth. It resulted in pain and disease but he did not give up in searching for himself. It sounded very familiar to me. When we were sharing our life stories we could see again and again how we are connected by similar experiences.
What surprised and delighted me the most was that sensing of spiritual community has come up in spite of the fact that we come from totally different worlds. Our stories seen from the outside are completely different. And what is really interesting the religious field on which we are really far away from each other, does not make impossible to feel spiritual closeness.
Yes, I do believe deeply in my soul and my heart that we are alike, the same.
I remember the poem by Ewa Lipska “A man is such an ordinary man, like one man or another. We differ from each other merely so alike (…)”.
3 years ago my Daughter and her friends from the University were spending Friday night at the Vistula River. At the bus stop they were attacked by the hooligans and one of the friends was beaten. Fortunately the police was passing by and the aggressors run away.
On Saturday next day she visited me for lunch and I could read from her face that something had happened. That time she was reluctant to share her private things with me but it was so strong that she started to talk.
In one second I got scared but was also aware how overwhelming it must have been to her. She had never been so close to the violence before. I was attached to the thought of giving her as much support as possible. To give her all my attention and to leave my comments, interpretations, advices and fears. I was happy to have managed to listen to her with compassion and understanding.
Next week when we met again I asked her about that event – how she was and the injured friend. And my Daughter with moving voice said: “Thank you mom that I did not hear from you a single admonition or advice”. Just after that I felt touched a lot. Have got the sense as if there was a sea of love around me. Endless and warm. Then I had a feeling of being in it and at the same time being that sea. It was different from any other sensing before but strong and clear. I was kept very touched over the weekend. Even now while writing this I feel tears in my eyes.
It was one of the powerful experiences in my growth, life. I would say today that I was fully connected with green essence of love, compassion and mildness. I was the essence, I was myself.
Till now I have come back to this memory with touching emotions and the tender thoughts of myself and my Daughter.
My close friend was telling me about his job. It is very specific as very much connected with a personal relationship with the clients. He is involved to the cases demanding a big trust and professional skills. The clients are all over the world and the cases can appear suddenly and unexpectedly. My friend does like his job which delivers a lot of satisfaction, fun and financial safety. All that makes really difficult to plan a holiday as he can be needed any time. He had been telling me that before but for the first time I really heard him and understood the situation. What was the point? I let myself explore it.
We were talking about going together for holiday several times. I was longing for the rest far away from the daily life. He was trying to find a free time for holiday and never succeeded. I was reading that situation like: “he chooses me – I am valuable, he chooses his job – I am not”. When he was telling me about his job requirements I felt resentment, sorrow and anger and rejected his explanation.
I am at the different place now. More conscious of my own needs and the needs of the others. I feel more and more independent from the other people, more self-reliable. When I am seen and heard I feel happy but can recognize those melting feelings and the source – somebody`s approval. When I am ignored sometimes I can feel sadness and depression. I also see them but they are not as powerful as before.
I like de Mello to have seen life as an orchestra. It plays delightful melodies always in different way at a present moment. When someone stands by me the melody changes, when does not – the orchestra keeps playing beautiful melodies and the joy does not disappear.
On Friday last week I took part in the vernissage of the art exhibition of my friend and her colleagues. I was buying the flowers for the three artists before. My idea was to have the flowers which were not too plentiful but expressive, a bit similar to each other but not too much. The shop clerk joined gladly my decision making. While giving an advice she was leaving enough space for me. She spontaneously followed my joking tone and I had a sense that it was a joy for her to be with a client in that way.
After I had left the shop I thought: “I`d love to come back here again”. Then I realized that this is my way of choosing the persons from whom I want to get any services.
I remembered my hair dresser Agatka who does not work in the top hair salon but she is the special person for me. I feel touched when I experience her openness, curiosity to other people and authenticity. Engineer Parol who repairs washing machines, uncommunicative with his funny tired stool always puts me in touch with a sense of honesty and reliability. I immediately felt trust to the physiotherapist Monika although she is young and without the support of many working years with the famous “names”. Her being connects me with honesty, openness and engagement . Ania from a beauty salon with no top fashionable beauty treatments gives me a sense of trust, care and honesty. The photographer Marysia, found in the Internet, from the very beginning has been connecting me with naturalness, simplicity and kindness. The designer Asia who did this webpage for me let me be delighted with her talent, skills, kindness and commitment. The web developer Kamil who developed this page brings the qualities of authenticity, kindness and support.
I always look forward to see them, appreciate their services and want to come back to them. It seems that the core of what they provide me in their services is around their personal quality of being. And it only gives the beginning for the whole rest.
I remember how I was choosing such service providers before. First the reliable information, recommendations, social acknowledgment - all coming from the others. Now I prefer to trust my intuition. A short talk gives me a chance to be in a flow with such a person and to make a decision. I put my feeling on rather than my brain and focus on my personal receiving rather than on facts or evidence. And it works!
Yesterday evening I went for a walk to the forest. I enjoyed it very much as a forest is my favourite place to stay for rest, contact with the nature and sport.
There were the bikers and Nordic walkers around me. Biking and Nordic walking are my beloved activities. I resigned from them at the beginning of the year due to the growing spine pains.
I felt how I was longing for riding a bicycle. Every time when I do the first move with the pedals I feel connected with freedom and strength. It is obvious in a way but for me it is still delightful that thanks to my own energy I can travel fast in a space. To change a place moment by moment. To feel a touch of air on my cheek, sometimes gentle hardly sensed, sometimes firm even persistent. To feel tiredness in muscles, a response of my body after the effort. And Nordic walking brings both a motion and an opportunity for walking meditation.
I was passing by the bikers and Nordic walkers and feeling sorrow. I realized then how deeply I was longing for health, strength and dynamic being. That moment I could give a space for acceptance of my weakness and body limitations. Could feel a sadness and allow it to be.
Most often when I meet the new weaknesses of my body it is difficult just to accept them. I feel concern, depression or dissatisfaction. I try to explain, rationalize or ignore. I do not have a willingness to agree what is true. When I give up and allow my sad feelings, there always come peace and relief.
I was showing something to my friend in my laptop. Once she noticed some other things fully private she gave her comment and joked on them. I felt resistance and confusion. It was not my intention to unveil to her also these things. But it is a laptop – when you open it to show something particular unintentionally all the privacy comes out. I got upset, reacted against it and since that moment I was feeling stiffness and tension in our meeting. After some time I asked her if it was connected with my reaction before.
She acknowledged that it was. I was happy that she wanted to share with me what had really happened. She told me that it is her professional habit to read and interpret everything she catches with her eyes. It gives her the sense of proficiency. She did it automatically, faster then she managed to think with not intention to abuse the situation. I could see her to feel a true sorrow. I, in turn, could notice how important for me is respect and trust for my privacy when I open my private resources. She offered me understanding and attention to my needs. I had a sense that there was something light and true between us then.
And at the end she said: “I am sorry”. I immediately felt discomfort and disconnection.
I gave a while to myself to find out what was behind that. I realized that what I do care in such situations it is to hear each other. To share in an open way from the level of curiosity and trust.
My curiosity and trust contain the belief that people are good by nature and do not want to hurt anyone. Also the sense that this is only me to be responsible for my well-being and I am not going to blame or judge anyone. The talk of that kind, if possible, always brings to me the feelings of flow, connection and closeness.
I recognize “I am sorry” like a knife which cuts off what is alive. What to be sorry about? About you are the way you are? About the life is as it is? Instead of “I am sorry” I prefer to listen and to be listened.
I again have pain in my spine. The pain usually appears suddenly, often when I am not careful enough about the warmth. I am watching how I react to it.
It also reminds me of the last year when in 2 months I couldn`t get well after the sinusitis, then influenza followed by complications. Since the very beginning of the illness I was fighting for my recovery. I was going to the doctors, taking medicines, searching for natural treatment, doing everything. Each night I was going to bed with the dream that in the morning the illness would withdraw. Each morning I was checking if it was still there. I was rejecting the illness, suffering, tiredness, anxiety. I was getting angry at limitations in my daily life.
When I was better after 2 months there came a moment of clear awareness. I realized that I had been completely separated from myself, my fear and suffering. As I had been totally focused on fighting the illness and resisting I had not been able to give compassion and understanding to myself. My life in illness became different but still remained my life. As I rejected the illness I rejected thereby my life. Once I saw how much I was disconnected and lonely I felt sorrow and sadness.
There is such a belief: “you fight illness and get a chance to win or you give up and loose”. I am not convinced any longer that it works. What is closer to me now it is to accept the space containing the pain and body suffering, dissatisfaction with life limitations, anxiety, fear, sorrow but also tenderness, compassion, hope. And only from such a place I want to act for my well-being.
When the illness returns I seldom succeed in being in a peaceful space for longer. I unconsciously do in my old style. However those single moments of connection give me a hope for future – that allowance and trust is available also in time of illness.
Since June I have been living together with my Daughter`s cat. I am taking care of her over the summer holiday. I haven`t had any experience with pets before. I have been told about some cat`s behaviour which are human-like: they get offended, rule at home, treat their owners like servants. Sometimes cats are seen through dog behaviour: they not attached to their owners, they don`t care of anything and do always what they want. I intuitively felt the resistance to it. It was like labelling. I do not like any generalisation at all and do not believe that can help in reaching anything good.
So I started from the level of not-knowing and checking what was true for her.
The first thing I saw it was that she is both very fearful and curious. I`ve been still watching that dance: curiosity of getting to know new things and at the same time the fear which could push her to the floor and hold the body in tension. I feel moved when I can see how fearful she is and yet makes step by step to get to know a new place or a person. I like her to examine the world by senses – she explores it by her muzzle, paws, whiskers and she sniffs and listens carefully.
I am delighted when see her going at her normal pace – slowly, fluently, noiselessly, with grace. I am getting aware that I like that manner – leisurely, lightly, entering every moment of being calmly and mindfully.
While playing she is nimble, fast and fully in her energy. She follows a feather cleverly, run on her cat tree like a squirrel. She has never fallen down, hit herself nor been caught. Unexpectedly for myself I have noticed how nice it is to touch her. Her fur is soft and delicate. When I pet her I feel warmth and a move and life in that little body.
Sometimes when I fail in searching for her in all possible places in my apartment suddenly I can see her with the corner of my eye just standing by me, as usual. I love that moments. They bring me a message from the world: “Aha…yet you do not control nor know everything”.
I do not experience any spite, indifference, prevalence from her. There is no aggression either – when I am close to her boundaries she gives me a delicate warning with her teeth. I have not been scratched nor bitten. She does not like to be taken on hands, but sometimes I allow myself for a bit of violence and take her – then depending on her mood she stays like “ OK, can stand a while” or immediately tells “no way”.
When I think about our being I sense joy and harmony. I am really curious how she feels with me.
When I was a child and a teenager I was reading books passionately. l have still kept a great respect to them. When I was searching for help and answers to the key life questions as an adult, I run on books with trust and hope. I was discovering again and again interesting theories and accurate explanations of the reality. I was delighted: “Yes, yes, it is exactly what I mean”, “Yes, now I can understand, at last” and …..nothing in my life could get off the ground. I was feeling sadness and confusion then.
The turning point happened 7 years ago on my first personal development workshop. I was given an empathic listening and it was like a touch of tenderness and closeness. The next day something appeared even much more moving – there came such a moment that I felt self-understanding and self-acceptance. For the first time in my life. Then I could see very clearly how big difference it makes when you “know” or “feel” something.
Since that time the experiencing has become my true inspiration and drive in my growing. It means for me conscious entering into the life situations and relationships with myself and the others, watching with curiosity and non-judging, sharing my personal experience and receiving that gift from other people. I sense a huge difference between real being and talking or reading about it. I appreciate words when they anchor me in the present moment, in my body. I lose my interest to them when they take me away from reality.
I have not been attracted any more by the fascinating books, exciting theories, golden quotes or brilliant thoughts. It is difficult to me to find a spirit of community with those who unconsciously let the words seduce them.
I do trust that all the things I need for my growing are in my common life. If I can more and more experience consciously connection or separation, joy or suffering it is just enough for me. This is how I feel and invite zen coaching to my life and practice.
Last year I changed my diet. I had been ill for a long time before and in an attempt to help myself I had decided to change my food radically.
I excluded gluten, sugar and cow-origin products, meat, eggs and coffee what had covered about 98% of everything I had been eating. I started to prepare my meals on my own and in a rotary way: not less than 4 days break for the products from the same family group. Always fresh, done just before eating.
One day I cleared out my fridge and kitchen units and made space for the new things. I use now 7 gluten-free kinds of flour and 5 different oils. My regular food besides bean contains lentils, chickpea, soya or peas. Millet groats, my everyday breakfast, shared its place with buckwheat groats and oat porridge. The most spectacular entry in my kitchen was the vegetables. Also nuts, seeds as the invaluable treasures of the plants, spices - preferably local. I began to drink herbal beverages and recognize and like their different tastes.
The new diet is very healthy. It is also cheaper although I buy organic products. I do not waste food any longer. The processing of the vegetables has appeared to be pretty fast and in a half an hour I have my dinner cooked. And the most important – it is really nice what I have tested also with followers of the traditional cuisine.
Now I am more relaxed about the diet and accept fish, sometimes meat or a cake. Diversity prevails.
When I say that I am on a diet I usually can see the others` look like “I am sorry that you must limit yourself”. And I feel quite opposite - I had been limited before and even not able to see that. I had been eating the meals known to me from traditional cuisine or restaurants. The products used, tastes and spices had been given and obvious.
Since I left my old diet I have had no limitations in trying new food and composing of the ingredients. I use my imagination, colours (!) and intuition. I feel like a discoverer of the new lands – often deliberately choose not to taste while cooking to wait with curiosity to the end and see what finally comes.
My radical diet, instead of bringing a feeling of constraint unexpectedly has connected me with curiosity and joy of creation. Also with gratitude to the land I live on that it shares its treasures.
On Saturday I was given a zen coaching session from the person who is finishing her training and under the practical requirements was offering sessions to the certified zen coaches.
That person is my friend to whom I had been giving zen coaching sessions since last year. I had been accompanying her during several months in her difficult professional situations in the demanding and dominated by men industry. The lack of self-confidence and trust in herself and her skills had been often the main issue in our sessions. I find her as a very competent, reliable and responsible person however the distrust and fear had been very alive in her.
And now she was challenged to offer a session to a certified zen coach. It doesn`t seem to be easy. Especially if a candidate for a zen coach has not been experienced in any coaching before, the client`s issue is both serious and delicate and a coach feels responsible and wants to contribute to well-being of the client.
The session went naturally and she as a zen coach brought a precious support to my exploration and deeper seeing and understanding of myself.
When I asked her after that what she was feeling the first answer was: trust in herself. All the time she was feeling that if anything had happened she would have managed it and the process would have gone effortlessly. I found her joyful and satisfied.
It was only after some time I realised that she is the same person I have been working with since last year.
I have also remembered from our current chats that now she feels more relaxation and peace in her professional life.
I am celebrating that moment of being in contact with trust. Together with the change to more closeness, lightness and ease.
On the radio someone again speaks on quarrelling with a teenager. When I hear a final advice “let`s talk with our children” I remember my own experience with my Kids. Once I was trying to talk to my Daughter, she cut it and said: “it is my business and I do not want to share anything with you”. I am smiling now to this memory but that time I was suffering a lot and did not know how to change it.
After I had begun to search for better understanding of myself I realized that my knowing of my Kids was actually rather poor. I started to get aware that my style of communicating was to listen or ask questions with a main purpose to check if they were doing exactly what they should have. If they were not – I began judging, counselling and pushing with my right. Some views, rules or believes in me, less or more conscious, were behind that “should” and became my life compass. My Kids were the most important to me. But how could I support them once I was not able to hear them in that jungle of “should”?
Then I felt like I really wanted to listen to them in a different way. With openness and curiosity.
Every time when I managed to leave my old style of communication it was easier to have heard what exactly my Kids were telling me and how important things they were sharing.
I started with watching and telling myself: “shut up, listen and try to hear and understand”. To understand also meant to receive in a compassionate way without judging or giving comments. The more I was listening to my Daughter in the new way the more she was sharing her personal matters with me.
The trust and understanding between us have been growing slowly month by month. Together with her trust to herself.
Recently I was in a theatre, the first time after a long break. I felt joy when I only entered that remarkable place. The play was about the meeting of two great Polish writers Witold Gombrowicz and Sławomir Mrożek. Gombrowicz` attitude to life and creativity, determination to experience life, passion in searching the truth, consciousness of being and eagerness to explore it put me in touch with a sense of closeness and community.
Quite recently my friend who is an artist told me about the act of creating. How strongly personal it is. And it means a way of searching oneself, the truth about oneself. I realized then that searching a connection with freedom, truth, being oneself is a choice of the artists who need to find and express themselves. I believe that doubt and suffering are inevitable on that way. If anyone looks for comfort and ease or acknowledgment of his beauty and value it is difficult to imagine that he can make a step towards discovering his truth.
Thanks to that play I have realized how close the artists are to me. Perhaps it is my fondness for freedom and truth what was always attracting me to galleries, theatre and creativity of all kinds?
I made an unbaked strawberry cake. It is fabulous and made of yolks, butter, sugar, vanilla, sponge fingers and strawberries. Its look and aroma invites senses and moves the imagination.
When my friend saw as I brought it out the fridge she casted: “Perhaps you could make such a cake for when I see my friends?
Immediately I had a storm of different thoughts in my mind and one of them was panic: “ I cannot manage, I need a rest”. Taken by surprise I did not answer what actually seemed like “no”.
Very soon I started to feel discomfort that I had left her with ambiguity about my intentions. I had a thought that she might have had in her mind different understandings for example that I do not find her important enough to make her something special.
Not long after that we saw each other and I revealed what had been true in me that time. It had been a mix of feelings – for “yes” and for “no”.
For “yes” - that I love sharing my recipes, food and kitchen inspiration. And especially that friend is very close to me and I would have loved to make a cake especially for her.
For “no” - that recently I had been living very intensive life and full of unexpected things. I had been dreaming of coming back to my regular life rhythm and that`s why my need of rest and peace had won.
As I told her of all that I felt relief and she responded with understanding.
When I am asked to do something I make a choice and it sometimes happens that I refuse.
If I am to say only “no” I usually find it difficult and feel discomfort, nervousness, even irritation.
Once I start with what is about “yes” in me and then say what is about “no” it goes easier for me. I have a sense that I can show the both sides of me – that I care about myself but at the same time I try to see and include the needs of the other person.
I was chatting with my friend on a bench in the Royal Park Łazienki. She was telling me how she had refrained from expressing her feelings and saying: I love you. For that time it had been too challenging for her.
It reminded me of having told the same words some time ago to the man who had been telling his feelings and commitment to me. Naturally there came such a moment in our relationship when my heart opened as if it fully received his being without any evaluating or judging. I felt connection, warmth, closeness. It was a very touching sensation and I used the words “I love you” to express it.
In the past that kind of experience would feel like reaching the long-wanted place. At last someone who would have made my dreams of happiness, understanding, closeness, joy come true! Now I can live my life fully!
This time it was different. Except flow and softness I felt invited for experiencing what was going to happen next but above all for seeing what was real and true.
I was clear and aware that the feelings of tenderness and connection themselves did not do all the job. I was prepared to acknowledge that in a daily life we might not be giving each other what was important for each of us.
I was feeling openness and curiosity - like before a journey to the unknown
For years I’ve been interested in the subject of a life change – how to conduct it successfully, change ways of a routine and unaware life and step on the path of greater ease and joy.
What surprises me the most there are the numerous schools and workshops regarding the subject and yet I rarely come across people who are truly happy, open, curious. The majority just talk about it but it`s not how they really are.
On this path my personal experience happened to be a source of valuable discoveries and observations.
The key was slowly realizing that my great commitment and involvement in raising and taking care of my Children didn’t turn into qualities of being that I had dreamed of – freedom, confidence, acceptance, spontaneity.
It was the most painful but also the most enriching experience of my life.
I was starting to understand better what is it that I care for in my career, where do I draw the lines.
My relationships were also important. When I realized that in yet another relationship I was unknowingly repeating the same behaviour I reaffirmed myself that I want to take care of me and see what’s inside me.
In addition to my own searches I learned from experience of many development paths and schools.
NVC entrenched my belief that people are good by nature and they are willing to open their hearts. In NVC for the first time I experienced the power and simplicity of empathy.
Psychotherapy and psychoeducation was a good practice for me to acknowledge and observe myself, to identify feelings and also to tell the difference between facts and interpretation.
I was captivated by Alexander’s technique because of its gentle and full of trust approach towards the body. AT taught me to acknowledge my body in every-day reality and it’s still present in my life.
Inteo was dear to me because of its approach that in search of the truth it’s worthy to meet difficult feelings not to run away from them, but support oneself with breathing to feel them inside.
Mindfulness brought in to my life everyday practice of awareness and meditation. In mindfulness for the first time I took part in a retreat and realized how much it brings in to my life.
In every one of them I found interesting parts, but I kept on looking. Psychological paths were built on knowledge and analysing which made me understand more but it didn’t change much in the area of being myself. In meditation dear to me was focusing on the present moment and liberation from judging. However in specific life situations I missed seeing and acknowledgment of how my needs influence the quality of my being.
Zen Coaching combines things which up till now I’ve only encountered separately, it’s true toward my life experience and consistent with my values.
But above all it’s effective and I experience it everyday and during zen coaching sessions.
My Son had received a job offer abroad. He had faced a difficult decision, especially because this proposition hadn’t matched his expectation 100%.
My Son’s strong suit is his analytical skills, brightness and intelligence. So he had been considering, examining, gathering all the information and opinion. But He still hadn’t been clear about what to do.
When He turned to me with a need of advice I felt discomfort. Today I don’t believe in giving advise anymore. I believe in searching for the answers in oneself. In worth and power of what can be discovered.
That’s why I told Him: “Son I’m not really eager to give advice”. He, who knows what’s close to me now joked: “You surely want to ask me questions”. I confirmed and said: “Look you have analysed everything and I know that you’ve done all of what’s possible for the human brain, and yet you still have doubts. That means there is something you don’t have an access to, hidden somewhere underneath, which is probably causing this insecurity. And I can help you reach that place and check what is it”.
Logic of that was strong and my Son admitted it, although He didn’t decide on a zen coaching session. It was okay for me, because I trust that only the things we believe in work. Also I have a great need of respecting every choice of every person. And I don’t judge those choices as “good” or “bad”, “right” or “wrong” but I treat them rather as a part of truth, life manifesting itself in a given moment, which I want to acknowledge and not question.
I was telling my Daughter about a misunderstanding that had occurred between me and my friend when we’d been planning a trip together. The words I used in an email had been completely misconceived by him. One moment the tension had appeared in our conversation and my effort to hear my friend empathically had been read as a malignancy. My question about his feelings and his mood had been treated as a mockery. It had saddened me.
My Daughter was listening in silence and when I encouraged Her to say something, she expressed Her trouble: “I don’t know what to advise you”. I felt tension in my body after hearing the word "to advise" – sounded familiar but I felt some kind of resentment. I asked: “I don’t need advice, only understanding”. And then my Daughter after consideration and a bit without faith said: “You’re sad because your intentions were misunderstood?”.
And a miracle happened – those simple words immediately gave me a sense of connection and closeness – I’m being heard and understood. I smiled and my Daughter answered with a smile. She herself experienced how it works.
I wake up in the morning and check time: whether I already should get up. If it is too late or I am staying in bed too long, feel dissatisfaction. I started to watch that and discovered that it is strongly connected with the belief that I should get up early to make a really good use of the time. I begun to recognized more and more how big role in my life is played by the belief that I should do useful things all of the time. When I do not - I feel discontent and tension.
With the “to do” list I focus on the tasks and feel a pressure but also a relief. And my waking up in the morning goes without doubts and thinking then – just action!
It looks effective and smooth but I feel a kind of resistance and reluctance to it. What is that? When I look at this carefully I can see how much it is not my own belief. As if it is pushed into me and cut off the true contact with myself. It closes a free way to check out with myself what is good to me at every moment, what I need and what I choose. And I truly want to choose, give a space for making free decisions and allowing.
Now I can notice it in everyday life more often. I can see even more “should” – “should handle everything on my own”, “should be strong”, “shouldn`t get sick “, “shouldn`t ask anyone for help”.
I can imagine how many „should” I still do not see. When I am not aware of them, they leads my life from underground and make me separated from myself and life.
I believe that one day I will wake up like in Anna Maria Jopek`s song:
“Look, a new day of your life begins,
Get up to dive into it,
You have just felt a rich non-reason joy (…)”.
“A rich joy” is cool, but now I like the most “non-reason”.
I talked to my friend with whom I had been working. She told me that some colleagues might have been laughing at my choice to have left my job in the company and to have given attention to Zen Coaching. I checked out what it moved in me.
First a bit of sadness came as I have not been understood. I saw separation and closing in only one vision of what is right and valuable. I felt longing for freedom and curiosity which open and may ask questions: „What were you missing?”, „What encouraged you?”, „ What is important for you now?”, „How are you now?”.
Then the sense of peace and space appeared. I connected with freedom to choose what is really mine and with liberation from necessity of fulfilling somebody`s expectations or following common opinions.
I felt how well I am here and now. The way I live is fully in line with me and inspires me a lot . I can tell that I am happy now. My happiness is not however the never ending joy and fascination but a firm self-confidence, feeling myself. It is around and in me. When the moments come that I feel sorrow, confusion, I cry I still do not lose the sense of grounding and anchoring in myself.
I was doing shopping today. I had a very modest need but when I started to look at all the products, my wish to get more and more was growing. I realized that it was only spring and all that vegetables and fruits were in such big variety. I like eating them and since I changed my diet they have taken much more space in my heart and menu.
Vegetables and fruits were encouraging me to admire great riches, colours, shapes, aroma, diversity. Strawberries and dill were smelling most. I also felt gratitude for having had such a choice and for prices for not having been horribly steep. The vegetable stall was organized to invite me to choose on my own and the salesman was kind and helpful. I was feeling joy and liveliness.
I was sensing as if I had the access to life itself in its generosity, plenty and diversity. And I was free in choosing what I like or find nice.
At a vegetable stall I happen to buy more than I need and then it becomes a challenge for me to use all the products and not to waste any. It brings me a joy and provokes my creativity and freedom in inventing new meals what I find natural. It is also the fun part of all this.