Until I started coaching, I was working long hours in a job that I had outgrown, believing that staying there was bringing my family the support that they need. I consciously made the decision to put myself last in the list – as long as my wife and children were getting everything they needed, I was doing the right thing.
Then one summer day, waiting at Haringay BR station for a train back into London, the key habit of my life suddenly became visible for the first time: movement. When I spend long hours sitting in front of a computer, my body starts to fall asleep – the sensation is much as I imagine decomposing to be – and I find it harder and harder to focus; so I start to eat high energy foods in an attempt to sugar-rush my body back to alertness. In contrast, when I am using my body, I am fully alive – the whole system is online, not just my brain and fingers.
Without realising it, my need for this aliveness had led me along a path of numerous body-related activities – Aikido, dance, yoga and others – that was a near-perfect antidote to the physical constraints of my job. On that sunny afternoon, I saw this pattern clearly for the first time: I am a much better person when I involve and use my whole body than when I don’t.
Since that time, I have worked with people to help them find the key to unlock their purpose, investigating both their visions and their internal tools. I am one of only 10 people in Europe to train as a teacher in Wendy Palmer’s Leadership Embodiment processes. Together we form a network that reaches out over western Europe, offering embodied learning that invites people to respond to stress with creativity, spaciousness, and effectiveness.
I provide this work in two forms: as training (workshop-based) and as an integral part of coaching (usually one-to-one).
I have studied Aikido for almost 20 years, teaching for the last eight. Our Aikido dojo (classroom) is a laboratory where we explore how we habitually react to difficulties in life, and learn how changing our physical state releases our minds to respond more creatively to the challenges in front of us. I bring this method (with less of the martial aspect) into my workshops. Studying under pressure reveals our reactive patterns, and provides a container for exploring alternative responses.
The principal idea in the workshops is that we can’t and shouldn’t be perfect – we’re always going to slip up – so we concentrate on recovery. I may be able to handle a certain amount of pressure elegantly, but at some point it will overwhelm me, and that’s the point at which this training comes into its own: how do I recover from that wobble and return back to a functional state?
These workshops are challenging, but not intimidating; serious, but fun; stretching, but not overwhelming. Their effect – having been experienced by making changes in the body – can last forever. However, this is no magic pill (“take this one course, and lead a stress-free life!”), rather an intensive introduction. Afterwards, the embodied learning is enhanced and embedded further by short daily exercises – the experience is made more real through repetition, just like a martial artist practicing katas.
I have trained as a Co-active coach with the Coaches Training Institute in London, and am a member of the International Coach Federation, abiding by their code of ethics. Co-active coaching emphasises the importance of the alliance between client and coach that is designed to support the client in working out how to live their life on purpose.
My definition of coaching is:
An alliance between coach and client to create and achieve valuable goals, as defined by the client.
Coaches are not mentors. As a coach, I am your supporter, your sounding-board, your champion, but not your advisor – the advice is yours to find from experts in your chosen domain. I will help you identify the learnings from stumblings along the way, be your ally when things become more challenging (they usually do), and sit with you when you trip up and graze your knee. I will do my best to help you uncover your creativity and resources, and make them work towards your goals.
Conscious and Leadership Embodiment
Leadership is a mind-body-spirit discipline calling us to create conditions that allow others to contribute effectively and whole-heatedly. From childhood to old age, leadership is a function that touches all of our lives, offering endless opportunities to refine our capacity to lead and be led. ~ Wendy Palmer, founder Conscious Embodiment.
After studying with Wendy over a period of two years, I became qualified to teach her embodied leadership methods, and – because my children are in primary school – I have a particular interest in making this work available to children and those who spend time with them: teachers and parents. I am eager to work with people who have ideas about bringing somatic training into schools, as I believe this work would revolutionise teaching and learning
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© James Knight Coaching, 2011.