Whenever I start a new client with Awakening Coaching, it begins with four questions.

The first is, “What are your objectives of entering into this coaching relationship?” This means, “What do you want? What’s important to you?”

The second question is, “What gets in the way? What are the the habits, beliefs, and situations in your life that you’re aware interfere with what you’re most longing for?”

The third question is, “What can we count on you for? What are your strengths? What are the habits that you’ve already developed in your life, where you and everyone else can hold you accountable?” For some, it may be that they’ve cultivated the habit of transparency, of telling the truth. For someone else, it might be the daily practice of meditation or Chi Kung.

And the last question has to do with outcomes. “At the end of this eight week coaching series, how would you like to be different? What would you like to be different? How would you like things to look, in an objective, measurable way? (more…)

Here’s a practice from my book Leap Before You Look.

Over family dinner,
With your spouse and children, or your parents and siblings or even a group of your friends,
Swap personalities among yourselves.
Have everyone write their name down on a small piece of paper,
And place all the names in a bowl.
Mix them up, and have everyone pick a name.
For five minutes, you will become that person completely,
Not as a caricature, but with totality.
Feel what it is like to have their body, their feelings, their thoughts.
Relate to the others at the table authentically from this place.
If you get your own name, take on your own personality
As if for the first time.
After five minutes, you can switch, until you have all become everyone else at the table.

A family can be a place of confinement or of liberation. Many of us have come to see the dynamics within the family as restrictive habits of restraint handed down from one generation to the next, and so we come to see our kin as the opposite of freedom. Fortunately, it does not take much to reverse that and allow those closest to us to become our allies in freedom. Families become restrictive to the degree that everyone is allocated a strict role to which they must conform. “Go wash your hands.” “Why, Mummy?” “Because I say so.” She says it with tension in her voice, like she is about to burst. The teenage son rolls his eyes at the ceiling. The father glances at his BlackBerry, hoping it will not be noticed. Even our pets go on automatic pilot. Everyone ends up living in a small and well-defined box. A parent is expected to be responsible, serious, hardworking, and at times, dictatorial. The youngest child is cute, adoring, carefree, sometimes irresponsible. The oldest child is expected to be independent, a leader, and to sometimes reject authority.

These are all roles we perform, and they can easily be confused with who we really are. As soon as you slip out of the automation of the role, however, even for just a moment, there is an explosion of freedom and creativity that is suddenly available. The youngest child also has the seeds of parenthood: just see her with her dolls or a puppy. The mother carries with her still the seeds of carefree enjoyment: just look at her on the rare vacation without the kids.

It does not take much to reverse all that, to allow those closest to us to become our allies in freedom. Slip out of your tight role as you might pull a T-shirt over your head. Pass the roles around. You will expand beyond who you thought you were, and laugh out loud at the same time.

You can discover 72 practices like this in Leap Before You Look.

Buy it now from our online store.

Happy Holidays to all our friends.

Chameli told me last night that it was the longest night of the entire year, which means that we have officially shifted from a phase of turning in, dying and withdraw, to a new phase of rebirth, regeneration, and fresh beginnings.  By now the last of the brown leaves have fallen from the trees and become mush under our feet on the wet ground.  And deep beneath the surface of the earth, the first stirrings are preparing themselves for next year’s spring.

These cycles of death and renewal have always been part of our lives, but I get the sense that this year it is more poignant than ever.  For most of us 2009 has been quite a year.  Most of the people I have met with this year have been facing, in a personal way, what we are all facing in a collective way: the old habits by which we live our lives are no longer sustainable.  We are being presented with a wake-up-call to try something completely new.

(more…)

realization1Here is a passage from my 2005 Bestseller, “The Translucent Revolution.”

As a child, Michael Barnett went on vacation every year with his family to Broadstairs, on the southeast coast of England. On the beach, there was always a Punch and Judy show, a small tent with an opening like a stage at the top. A puppeteer would hide inside the tent and control his puppets: Punch and Judy, a husband and wife who were constantly fighting. One year, when Michael was about seven, he went to the beach with his brother, David, who was a few years older. The two boys got separated near the tent. Young Michael forgot about his brother as he wandered on his own, past all the other shows and entertainments. But eventually he returned to the Punch and Judy show, looking for David. This time he approached from the back.
“I saw a man kneeling in a box, his hands in the air. On one hand was Punch, and on the other was Judy. With my beloved Punch and Judy as gloves, he was creating the whole show, all by himself. I stopped, open-mouthed. I was absolutely shocked — it was like realizing that Santa Claus does not exist. I thought, ‘My God, it’s all a game! And what’s more, Punch and Judy are the same person! From the front, they are fighting each other. From the back, it is one man playing out a struggle, pretending a war between a man and a woman. What are they arguing about, why are they attacking each other? They are the same! Punch and Judy are the same person. This guy is both.’
“Of course I didn’t interpret it then as I do now. This is the truth I have discovered, that we are all Punches and Judys . . . husbands and wives, brothers and sisters, fathers and sons, mothers and daughters — we are all playing Punch and Judy, ultimately. But every Punch-and-Judy in the world is the same person. When you argue with your lovers and your friends, you are all the same person.”

(more…)

vision

This is a practice from my latest book: “Leap Before You Look.” This practice is chosen from the section “Meditation Practices.”

In the midst of your busy day, stop.
Sit quietly with your eyes open.
Look at any object before you.
Now take an in-breath and expand your vision
To include what is immediately to the left and to the right of that object.
With the out-breath, relax and settle into yourself.
Take another in-breath and expand your vision even more,
To include everything that’s before you, in an arc of about ninety degrees.
Breathe out and settle further into yourself.
Take another in-breath and include your entire field of vision.
Your attention is equally distributed between what is in front of you
And all of your peripheral vision.
Expand it even more to include things not just to the left and the right,
But even things over your shoulders.
Expand beyond what your eyes can see.
With the out-breath, relax completely into being that which sees all.
Remain like this, breathing softly, for several minutes.
Feel the mystery of your own essence.

(more…)