Awareness means that you are connected with yourself. It is the art of being fully present in the moment. When you are aware, you pay full attention to what is happening, and you’re mindful of what is going on both within you and around you. To the degree that you are connected to yourself, noticing what you want, allowing yourself to have what you want, and going for what you want, you will be the perfect “mirror,” encouraging your clients to go for what they want too. You are free and available to notice what is happening in the environment and with the coaching client, the “coachee,” sitting directly across from you.
Cleaning the Vessel
In order to be fully aware you must first “clean the vessel.” Cleaning the vessel means readying yourself to be totally present and available for your coaching client. This includes: cleaning the mind clutter, confronting uncomfortable situations, tackling unfinished tasks, dealing with unwanted “stuff,’ resolving triggers, and forgiving unfulfilled expectations. All of these are items that might snatch you out of present time. Let’s deal with some of these topics.
Readying Yourself to Be Present
Two issues that could stop you from being fully present are rehashing the past or projecting into the future. When you rehash the past, you replay conversations or concerns in your mind. For example, imagine that when your spouse left the house this morning, he or she forgot to say good-bye properly. Rehashing the recent past might sound like this: “Why didn’t he say good-bye? Is he mad at me? He is probably worried about the presentation he will be giving this morning. I should have made his breakfast and prepared his coffee just the way he likes it.” This mental conversation is an example of rehashing the past. If the internal conversation engages without your knowledge, you are unaware of your thoughts and they are, in turn, on “automatic pilot”.
An example of projecting into the future might sound like this: “I really want tonight’s dinner party to go perfectly. If that business deal is going to go forward, things better be perfect. I have to buy salmon. It must be organic because they are very food conscious, and I checked on their food preferences and requirements. Did I ask them about drinks? Uh-oh, I think I forgot. I don’t even know if they drink alcohol. Should I get red or white wine, or just sparkling water?” This mental conversation is an example of projecting into the future and consequently being out of present time. There are an unlimited number of scenarios that you could imagine that would take you out of present time. The key is for you to clean your vessel so that you are aware, tuned in, and will notice if and when your mind starts to rehash or projects into the future.
Cleaning the Mind Clutter
When you delay the inevitable you also clutter the vessel. For instance, if you know you must schedule a teeth cleaning, a mammogram, or a colonoscopy, and you keep putting it off rather than setting an appointment, you attach a mental “clothespin” to part of your consciousness. Every time you attach these clothespins you tie up parts of your mind with unnecessary items that you don’t want to forget. Clothespins involve all types of tasks like balancing your checkbook, filing your receipts, filling out your expense reports, completing your taxes, paint touch ups, hanging pictures, getting an oil change, and so on. Having lists of tasks or goals is a positive thing when you write them down and accomplish them. Having mental clothespins robs you of energy, wastes brain cells, and “clutters your brain.”
Confronting Uncomfortable Situations
Another way to keep yourself from being fully present is to avoid confronting uncomfortable situations. For instance, if you have a houseguest or a grown child who is planning to move out of your house and the date keeps being postponed, your mental conversation can preoccupy your thoughts. Inside you feel that it is time for you to have your home back, but you don’t mention anything to avoid the confrontation and discomfort. Each day you spend time and energy wondering what to do about the situation. This creates more clutter in your head rather than resolving the situation. Having conversations in your head about the situation does not resolve it. You don’t want to create an upset, nor do you want the person to be angry with you. At the same time, you want your space back, and each day that passes makes you more disconnected from yourself and your wishes. You hope something will magically resolve the issues without you having to do anything. Regardless of what thoughts you harbor about the unresolved situation, it consumes your energy and depletes part of your life force.
Another aspect of cleaning the vessel is eliminating your triggers. A trigger is a restimulation of suppressed feelings from a past incident that caused embarrassment, humiliation, diminishment, or pain. The trigger is similar enough to the initial experience to exhume the suppressed feelings. The trigger may be a tone of voice, a gesture, a word, or an action.
Triggers can also evoke positive memories of nostalgic and sentimental moments from the past. The scent of perfume, the physical resemblance to a favorite relative, the sound of “our song” in the background can all bring back sweet memories that will also take you out of the present moment. The clue that a trigger is occurring is that the response is disproportionate to the stimulus. If there is excessive energy in response to the stimulus, then it is most likely a trigger. When you have become aware of your triggers, owned them, and defused them, they will no longer dictate and control your reactions. Releasing, clearing out, and healing your triggers is another step to cleaning the vessel.
Forgiving Unfulfilled Expectations
Another step to cleaning the vessel is to eliminate anything for which you haven’t forgiven yourself and to resolve all “incompletes” from the past that are hanging over your head. This could involve not living up to your expectations; not being where you’d expected you’d be at a point in your life; taking the easy way out; doing something that isn’t in alignment with your values, morals, or standards; or being dishonest with yourself or someone else. If you have ever digressed from your standards or expectations, then self-forgiveness is required to heal the rift. Self-forgiveness is erasing an emotional debt. The debt you have with yourself is labeled “letting yourself down.” Forgiveness means that you release yourself from the emotional debt of guilt and shame. You officially release yourself from your personal prison. You can do this by writing a letter to yourself or creating absolution in a mirror. However you do this, make sure that you believe the process.
This process of “cleaning the vessel” may sound overwhelming; however, it is an ongoing process. Just like eliminating the clutter in your home, cleaning out your in-box, and deleting old e- mails are ongoing processes, eliminating the clutter in your consciousness becomes an integral part of your life. Take on the process one step at a time, and do something each day to eliminate “consciousness clutter.” Anything that appears to be a clothespin on your consciousness needs to be cleaned out, forgiven, or healed.