A man asked a Jesuit priest, “What is the definition of spirituality?”” The priest answered, “Spirituality is that which is closest to yourself.” At another event, the same man asked a Buddhist priest the same question. The Buddhist priest responded, “Spirituality is your deepest self.”
Eventually, the man asked this question to several other spiritual leaders from many different beliefs. The man received the same answers from them all. Thus, it seems safe to say that spirituality is who we are and what we want at our deepest levels. Put another way, spirituality can be defined as what gives meaning to our lives and who our authentic selves are.
What is Spiritual Coaching?
The search for authenticity and meaning leads to the question, what is spiritual coaching? Finding our authentic selves and the meaning of our lives is often difficult. It is usually made difficult by the things we learn and are taught about how to act in the world—which is a form of modern-day survival. For example, have you been taught and learned how to survive? Of course, you have. You probably have a decent job, you may have a loving family; you may even be happy the majority of the time. We are also taught to use these things as good measures of survival.
On many levels, it is true that feeling we are loved, that we are secure, and that we have some control over our lives gives us a pleasant feeling inside. And it is true that for many people, those pleasant feelings give life some meaning. And yet if you are feeling lost, confused, or down, no amount of love from another person, no financial security, no control over your life will fix the negative feelings you’re experiencing. This is when having a guide to walk with you can be helpful.
How Does Spirituality Coaching Work?
Life coaching is essentially asking meaningful questions that open up deeper layers in one’s life. Spiritual coaching takes it a step further, by asking questions that reveal the most important things to and for you. A spiritual coach will be a guide for you, as you search out the beliefs that you hold most dear and the things that bring meaning into your life. Unfortunately, the things that we enjoy the most and that define who we are frequently stay hidden beneath all the layers of survival that we automatically do in our daily lives.
A caring, spiritual coach will aid you in finding your authentic self and purpose. He or she will do this by asking you a lot of questions that are intended to help you see the subtle areas of your life which may be hidden from your conscious awareness. With your permission, the coach may offer to give you reflections of yourself about what you are saying and how you are acting. The purpose of this reflection is to further bring into your conscious awareness the hidden or subtle layers that hint at who you are and what you want. Additionally, those layers may be hiding possibilities that open your world to new and meaningful beliefs and purposes.
A spiritual coach will not give you unsolicited advice. They will not diagnose or analyze problems or offer solutions—that is beyond the scope of coaching. Those dynamics are better suited for a trained therapist. Instead, an active spiritual coach will ask questions that help you find the answers within yourself. You are looking for your answers. The coach is merely a guide and companion along the path.
This process may feel uncomfortable because it requires you to take ownership of your life. The reward for struggling through that discomfort is that you can form your life from the foundation of your dreams instead of the automatic reactions you have learned. The goal is to create your life your way. When you own your life, you give yourself the most significant gift you can give. It means you are creating your own life’s meaning instead of relying on the meaning and purpose that others may have insisted on.
What are the Benefits of Spirituality Coaching?
Working with a coach is a process of discovering yourself. The coach’s job is to be a mirror, allowing you to see yourself. You will begin to discover your hidden layers. Each of us is made up of countless layers of thoughts, beliefs, and emotions that we have been taught and have learned throughout our lives. These thoughts and emotions go on to become the basis of our automatic reactions and behaviors. However, what if an automatic thought we have brings us suffering, struggle, and holds us back from our dreams? Exposing these subconscious layers and the thoughts behind them to our conscious mind offers us possibilities. We can learn to see beyond the automatic reactions to the ultimate goal. Once we see the ultimate goal of what we want, we can consciously begin to respond instead of subconsciously reacting to events. We can create our world instead of reacting to the world. You will:
- Uncover layers of beliefs and emotions that seem to hold you back from becoming who you want to be
- Discover the automatic reactions that seem to pull you away from your dreams and goals
- Learn ways to train your mind for happiness
- Lessen the amount of suffering you do in your daily life
- Learn how to create YOU
How Long is the Spirituality Coaching Process?
Coaching is not generally a one-size-fits-all process. Each person will need different amounts of time to process all the information that they learn about themselves. That process is under your control. This means that you determine the length and frequency of your coaching experience.
In my practice, I usually recommend that clients start with sessions once a week for the first few weeks. The weekly sessions give the client a chance to learn the coaching process and begin the simple awareness exercises I use to help uncover the subtle layers in people’s minds. After a few weeks, the client usually increases the time between sessions. They generally do this once they have learned how to uncover the hidden layers and how to move compassionately beyond them. When we have sessions, the sessions are about exploring and further unpacking the layers of thoughts and emotions that hold the client back from moving in the direction they want to go.
In your coaching experience, make sure you feel comfortable with your coach and their coaching style. Coaches all have different styles on how they interact with their clients. If you do not feel safe enough to establish when and how frequently you talk with your coach, it is a good time to find a different coach. As uncomfortable as it may feel to hear or say, the coach works for you.