CSA Consiousness, Supervision, Artistry

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...thoughts and reflections from CSA Faculty, Accredited Supervisors and the Coaching Supervision Community

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  • 19 Oct 2023 2:00 PM | Anonymous


    by CSA Accredited Supervisor and UK Programme Lead Will Medd

    To know and cultivate the truth we need to differentiate what we are aware of from the experience of awareness” (Dan Siegal quoted by Jon Prendergast In Touch p.23).

    “In being aware of being aware – the knowing of our own essential, irreducible being – the mind loses it agitation and the heart of is relieved of its yearning. What remains cannot be given a name, for all the names refer to the objects of knowledge and experience, and yet it is that for which all minds seek and all hearts long” (Rupert Spira Being Aware of Being Aware, p.102).

    “Each of us is a vantage point within one all-encompassing field of awareness” (Christopher Wallis Tantra Illuminated p.57)

    Awareness is one of those words that we often use quite freely along with its close relatives of being present, mindful, open. Whether we’re dropping down the “U”, sailing the seven eyes, moving through a drama triangle, or sitting in relational presence, cultivating awareness is at the heart of our supervision work. Yet rarely do we turn attention to the very nature and qualities of awareness itself, to our being aware of our apparent experience of being aware. I want to suggest that being aware of being aware is the ultimate lens of supervision, one we often ignore to the detriment of the qualities of creativity, beauty, compassion, love, joy and the deeper wisdom unfolding beyond this immediate illusion of egoic ‘self’.

    I admit this could start to become quite an abstract exploration and to stop that, let’s bring the focus right into this moment and your experience. As you are reading this, notice what you are experiencing, right now. Be watchful here – we habitually and typically start to label experience, which is already an afterthought. Can you close your eyes, put any thought or image of your body aside and ask, what is the experience of sensation right now? Before labelling it. Then ask: what is ‘it’ like to be aware of this experience you have noticed? Where is this awareness? What happens if you sense into that awareness? What does it feel like? Does it have a location?

    My suggestion is that the awareness of being aware of what you are experiencing – including while reading this - is neither another thought nor some kind of inaccessible transcendental state. If it were another thought we’d have an infinite regress of thought after thought; yet, we’d be aware of those thoughts. We might also start to become aware of the spaces between thoughts. If it were a transcendental state, this would suggest it was somehow separate to this experience right now, and somewhere to be attained or reached in the future. Such a notion doesn’t quite get to the experience of being aware of ‘this’ which we are experiencing right now.


    Ancient teachings of meditation through to contemporary claims of neuro-science point to understanding “I” is an afterthought, that is to say, the label I comes after the event we experience. We impose a narrative of self as part of a selective process of bringing coherence to the world, to feel we are making decisions, to feel we are in control. And we need to do so – the experiences of people with strokes or dementia shows how disorienting it can be when we lose this faculty. The mistake we make is when we take those narratives to be the truth or indeed a way to access the truth. Consider the notion of ‘being in control’. Coaches often refer to a very useful model for the locus of control, inviting people feeling overwhelmed to identify what is in and out of their locus of control. So far so good. It can be really helpful. Except for one thing. None of us know what is about to happen. We are not actually in control. Not only are there events happening beyond our control, we are not even in control of what our next thought will be. Yet we can be aware of this experience.

    Asking questions about ‘awareness’ offers something different to developing another narrative . What I’ve noticed in my experience and when working with people, is at first, when asked what is it like to be aware of what one is experiencing, the answer tends to involve more detail about that which they are experiencing. This is often true when coaches and supervisors bring in a meta perspective – for example a view from the helicopter or the view looking down from several floors up a tower block. Such perspective is powerful in generating reflective insight and enabling people to lift out of habitual patterns of thinking and perceiving. What seems to be overlooked is the next question: what is it like being in this place? Now we’re in the helicopter, how would it be to take a look around, to dwell here? This means letting go of the content of the topic we were exploring – we’re no longer looking down – rather we are asking, what is it like to be in the helicopter? What is it like to be in this awareness? What is the nature of this awareness? What are the qualities it brings? When we do allow ourselves to be aware of awareness, qualities start to emerge that invoke something that is not possible to fully capture in words. Spaciousness, timelessness, a sense of not needing to know, do, or have anything more – a sense of being enough. An absence of duality, of non-separation. The presence of love, beauty, creativity, emergence. And – which I think is most important in our contemporary world - a different understanding to dominate notions of ‘I’ and who ‘I’ thinks ‘I’ am.

    What might this look in supervision? Well, we could make this really complicated and bring in a multi-dimensional model, or we could go straight to the simple beauty of this question: who is aware of this? You can ask this of yourself, your supervisee and indeed of the relationship. Of course an immediate answer will be ‘I’ am. Interesting. And who is aware of this ‘I’? Perhaps, ‘well me, it’s I’. And what if we pay attention to that as a thought, this ‘well it’s me’. So the answer is a thought, a thought we are aware of. Again then, who is aware of this ‘I’ thought? The moment before the thought ‘I am’, who – or what is aware? This is the awareness that knows you are experiencing in all its forms - thinking, sensing, feeling. It is the awareness that knows you have been asleep.

    Try this. Take anything that is in your mind right now – a physical sensation, a feeling, emotion, thought, image, belief, anything. And notice you are aware of it. Then ask, can you describe this experience of ‘being aware’ of the thing you are noticing? What do you notice when you turn attention into awareness itself? What is here? Where is this awareness? What is this awareness like? Can you notice from this awareness how thoughts images, feelings, emotions, physical sensations come and go? What is the awareness which is aware of our experience, including the experience of thinking ? And does this awareness have a location, a duration, a boundary of any kind – where is it? When you pay attention to this awareness – the being aware of being aware – what comes to light, what insight, what knowing?

    It makes no sense to answer these questions for anyone! I’d encourage us all to explore more expansively ‘awareness’ in supervision, to see what we find there … It is one way we might find space to hold even our most hidden blind-spots and from which supervision can be truly in service of the work coaches do. It means being truly open and in deep curiosity with all that is arising, including the ‘messy stuff’ and our resistance to it.

    Will Medd July 2023

  • 6 Sep 2023 1:52 PM | Anonymous

    Is Collective Grief Blocking Emotional Intelligence At Work? - Why Leaders Need to Understand Trauma by Nicholas Janni

    Collectuve Grief - Nicholas Janni

    All unfelt emotions compromise not only our emotional intelligence and our capacity to relate, empathise and listen, but also diminish the clarity of our critical thinking faculties.

    I cannot recall a single CEO or senior leader client who has not realised through our work that whole parts of the way they lead, usually the less well-functioning parts, are rooted in their childhood and/or intergenerational trauma.

    I will begin with some definitions of trauma, and then develop the understanding of the territory and why the title of this article is so important.


    Although many events are obviously ‘traumatic’, it is more important to understand what happens inside us in the face of difficult events, from the most extreme to what may seem quite innocuous scenarios.

    A young child feels frightened – what could be more natural? In healthy scenarios, one of the primary caretakers metaphorically and/or literally embraces the child, lets them know that fear is natural, and supports them to feel it within a context of warm, supportive presence. The fear moves through the child’s nervous system, fades, and the child naturally moves on. There has been no need for any internal contraction. There is no ‘after effect’.

    But mostly, in one way or another the child does not feel supported. Perhaps the parents are busy, perhaps they are themselves caught up in their own traumas and unable to be warm and present for their child. Perhaps they try to explain rationally why there is no need to be afraid. They may even make the child feel stupid for being frightened.

    Whichever of these, the child has only one option – s/he has to stop or at the very least reduce the intensity of emotional energy inside them because they cannot contain it on their own. This is a survival function. We know instinctively how to do this, it’s in fact quite a remarkable innate intelligence. We basically close down our body, through tension and restriction of the breath. We often also find refuge in thinking. In cases of violence or abuse, people report that they literally leave their body. All of these are essential survival, self-protection strategies.

    And so we do survive, but at what cost? Because each time we did this – and most of us did it over and over – a part of our life force closed down, went offline as it were. We also started the movement away from the home base of our body in the pelvis. To be grounded, open and rooted was simply too painful.

    The move way from full embodiment is then supported by our education system which increasingly prioritises data and rational thinking over play and sensuality. As this happens, our overall capacity to feel, and therefore empathise for instance also gradually closes down. Thinking becomes our dominant function, and we forget that thinking by itself does not feel or indeed have any experience of life.

    And so, 30 to 40 years later, despite all our functional success, as someone rise up the leadership ladder to the point where their humanity and Presence become easily as important as their knowledge, they start getting 360’s telling us that people don’t trust them, that they don’t listen well, that they are perceived as cold, distant and so on. And however much they try to learn new behaviours, these are in the end just band aid until they address the underlying roots.

    We are all carrying the imprints of unaddressed trauma from our childhoods and from our lineages, often far more subtlely than in the obvious cases of Holocaust or African American descendants, or inhabitants of countries ravaged by war or natural disasters - the fathers who could not express their grief, who were isolated and lonely inside, the mothers who were seething with unexpressed anger, frozen in their sexuality, and so on. I have lost count of how often a client will suddenly see that ‘Oh my goodness, a whole part of how I feel is how my father felt….”, or will realise that much of the way they lead has been shaped by their experience as a five year old. Hence the very unfortunate and dangerous truth that all too often, boardroom behaviour is that of five year olds in the school yard.

    Working with trauma requires skilled facilitation. It does not need months of therapy if the client is willing. Safe and unconditional space must be generated, so that feelings can be felt without any attempt to manage, fix or change them, and so that the constant escape into narrative, to talking about can be restricted. The work has to move from the cognitive to the experiential for it to bring healing. Everything has to happen first in the body, not the mind. The healing unlocks multiple dimensions of ourselves, including much higher levels of critical thinking.


    When the word ‘collective’ is used as in the title, the principles remain the same, though we address a wider and bigger systemic field. I believe that the primary collective emotion being experienced now is varying degrees of anxiety. This can relate to everything from personal professional and financial insecurity to the state of one’s country, to the growing global instability, the fact that it is too late to avoid catastrophic climate events, and that we are now constantly on the edge of a war whose progress, including the nuclear possibility, is completely uncertain.

    Anyone who does not recognise the anxiety levels inside them is basically deeply numb. A senior leader who is emotionally intelligent however is first of all comfortable with their own emotions. Secondly s/he legitimises the emotions of those around. This can be very simple – in a meeting for instance, pausing to acknowledge the anxiety levels in the room, with Presence and empathy, and the owning of their own emotions. “I’m not sleeping well at present, I guess some of you may be feeling the same.” This is what I call robust vulnerability, one of the deepest and most impactful qualities of leadership. When a leader does, this the effect is one of huge relaxation within the individual and group nervous system.

    I have seen time and time again that, following a moment of such emotional intelligence, new ideas usually start flowing into and through a group in a remarkable way, because the channels are open. Insights, new ideas and new solutions arrive effortlessly – the very epitome of collective ‘flow state’.

    Conversely, when a leader and a team plough on without stopping to acknowledge emotion, be it grief or fear, it’s as if big boulders are impeding the flow of the river. People remain contracted inside in order not to feel, they think far less clearly, and they very likely leave such meetings feeling more depleted than when they went in.

    I believe that the growing awareness of trauma in the way I have defined it here, as well as the radical understanding that no emotions are negative, and no emotions need healing, fixing or transforming – that this happens naturally when they are felt and acknowledged in a supportive environment – is a game-changer in corporate culture. It liberates huge amounts of life-energy, and therefore intelligence. Our critical faculties, and our relational connectedness work at their very best when our bodies and hearts are less and less burdened by the contraction of stored, unaddressed emotion.

    Nicholas Janni

    August 2023

  • 5 Mar 2023 9:34 AM | Anonymous

    Never Work With(out) Animals Or Children by CSA Accredited Supervisor Wendy Robinson

    I’ve had a couple of experiences in the last few days which have really made me think.

    And re-remember that it’s not helpful to separate parts. For example:

    • ‘Here’s me at work and here’s me at home’.

    • ‘Here are the young people and here are the older people.’

    • ‘Here are the humans, and here are the animals.’

    And this has relevance to coaching supervision.

    My first experience was in conversation with a supervisee. She was talking about a (non-coaching) work experience (team facilitation) and how she had brought along as a guest, a young person, for work experience. The host company had graciously agreed to have the teenager sit in on the session.

    My supervisee was blown away by the impact this young person had. She quickly realised that her young colleague saw things, felt things, intuited things, that almost made her ‘seem wise beyond her years’. She was open, natural, vulnerable, potent. And the adults in the room were caring and welcoming towards her, and really open to hear her thoughts and feedback. Wow. I thought – ‘Isn’t it wonderful that the presence of someone who isn’t normally part of the status quo in organisations, has such a beautiful impact on the human dynamic within a work team?’

    It reminded me of a tiny incident, about 20 years ago. I was concluding a week long, residential leadership programme, with senior leaders from an Oil & Gas company. We’d had a good week – long hours, we’d worked hard and played hard, lots of learnings, lots of good outcomes, but I was utterly exhausted (being the Introvert that I am). As we were starting to pack up our things, 20 people milling round the hotel conference room, saying their goodbyes to each other, a dog ran into the room. A Golden Labrador if memory serves me right.

    (He was later followed by an embarrassed Mum and Dad and children, who were staying at the hotel and had wandered into our room by mistake…)

    I will never forget the change of energy in the room.

    It was like ‘normal life’ had burst in. Everyone became ‘normal’ – exclamations of ‘Aw, hello Dog!’ Or gentle chidings ‘What are you doing here?’ Petting of the dog. Smiles. Warmth. Laughter.

    And that’s not to say that we didn’t have warmth, smiles, laughter, ‘normal’ behaviour all week! But….it was just different. A different feel to it.

    It was like we were playing the parts – playing them really well – of how to be a senior leader on a leadership programme; how to be a facilitator on a leadership programme. Having ‘real conversations’, giving feedback, raising self-awareness, proving a point, dealing sensitively with defensiveness. Etc. Etc.

    But….were we actually ‘playing roles’?

    Do we learn to put on a work persona? To fit in to the culture round about us at work? To be ‘grown up’. To be a ‘good leader’, ‘good colleague’….to behave a certain way….to cope with things we don’t like or agree with at work, because everyone else is doing it? Or, on the other hand, to rebel against it, and become known as the ‘difficult one’, or the brave one, who says what he thinks?

    There are schools of thought, in the world of Occupational Psychology and OD (Organisation Development) which talk of organisations being products of our imagination. We see them as tangible, solid things. Real things. But actually, when you think more deeply about it, they’re a construct we believe in and have bought in to. And constantly reinforce in our minds. What we perceive, we bring into being. And we believe in it.

    What would it be like if we could truly be ourselves in the organisations we work in?

    Do we play the role of ‘Executive Coach’? Believing we’re being ourselves? What would we say or do differently, if we were ‘unfettered’, if there weren’t organisational norms to unconsciously adhere to?

    And the final experience I had this week was listening to Clover Hogan deliver her Keynote, the opening event of this years Coaching Climate Alliance Conference.

    Clover is an activist, entrepreneur and global speaker. She is 22 years of age. She has been an activist since she was about 16 years old. She is, in my opinion, utterly amazing.

    You can read about her on the links below, and listen to her TedTalk (nearly 2 million hits) on the link below.

    And the reason I link her in to my Blog today….

    She talks to leaders in boardrooms, she has a way of understanding our world, the climate crisis, the corporate world, adults’ fears, denials and despair, and she understands the power of stories.

    The stories we tell ourselves.

    We are unique as a species in the use of our imagination and our ability to tell stories; our ability to ‘entertain fictions’. We create our world, in the stories we tell, the stories we listen to, the stories we are moved by, the stories we believe in.

    We can therefore change the story.

    We can be “drunk on the Corporate Kool-Aid” or we can start a new story.

    She says: “Imagination is a radical, powerful tool.” “What would it be like to create a realm beyond what we can see? ….To exercise that gift every day….”.

    It’s not comfortable to realise that we’re operating within what I call an ‘Old Paradigm’. And if we’ve lived within that story for four, five, six decades, it is entirely and utterly understandable.

    Perhaps the Coaching Supervision space is the safe space to experiment with, ‘try on’ a different worldview. It’s where I personally gain clarity and confidence. We are ‘the instrument’ of our work. As coaches and supervisors we must ‘fine tune’ ourselves first. THEN, we do our work. And see what new story is possible.

    A Bit About Clover:

    “At 19, I started Force of Nature with the mission to mobilise mindsets for climate action. Our team has since delivered programmes to thousands of young people, and moved decision-makers across business and policy.

    We’re helping our community channel eco-anxiety into agency; develop the skills to make a difference; and inspire change at the systemic level.”

    Our global youth perspective supports businesses to be the leaders in climate and sustainability by shifting mindsets in the room. We offer training sessions, intergenerational forums, partnerships, and more for companies who are ready to provide youth a seat at the decision-making table.”

    Clover’s TedTalk

    To close, a couple of marketing mentions from me:

    If you’d like to explore the possibility of 1-1 supervision with me, I’d love to hear from you on wendy@wendyrobinson.org

    Find me on LinkedIn

    Subscribe to Wendy’s Newsletter

    ‘Til next time….Go Well

  • 27 Feb 2023 10:29 AM | Anonymous

    by CSA Accredited Supervisor and Faculty Member Elaine Patterson 

    Have you noticed that we have started our slow climb out of winter? Crocuses and snowdrops are starting to appear. The light is getting brighter, and the days are getting longer. And while ice might return, it feels as if Spring is starting to peek around the corner.

    The 1st February is also Imbolc – which is also called Saint Brighid’s Day in the Celtic seasonal calendar - marks the mid-point between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox. It marks the start of Spring and the traditional start of the lambing season. Imbolc also represents hope – it is the promise of renewal, of hidden potential, of earth awakening and life-force stirring.

    If we are careful to pay enough exquisite attention to our surroundings, we start to notice that Nature is actually full of transitions – not just the notable highpoints of the year but also the many micro changes which are taking place right under our noses. From the clouds skidding across the sky; from day to night and back again; and from the micro changes that take place in your garden from day to day. The Japanese honour these many adjustments with the naming of 72 micro seasons. And so, what is true of nature is also true of us. We are constantly in a change of flux and nature is in us as we are in nature. Nature reminds of the impermanence, the beauty, the fragility, and the resilience of all of life from which we can draw our inspiration and our strength.

    Our new programme on Nature’s Way which is inspired by Karyn Prentice’s Book of the same title helps us to tune into the nature which is within us and all around us. We learn how we can bring a more soulful and poetic language teeming with new metaphors to help us to craft newer, gentler, and more respectful ways of inter-being and inter-relating which can alter our ways of seeing which in turn can then go on to more sensitively inform our doing.

    And so please do join us for our new programme “Sacred Landscape with NATURE AS INSPIRATION AND PARTNER: A Year’s Immersion in Nature and the Wisdom of the Five Seasons to Enrich You and Your Coaching and Supervision Practice’ to discover the myriad of ways that you can become more intimate with nature in service of you, your work and the planet. We start in March, meet virtually once a season for five seasons, mornings, or afternoons at your time zone choice.

    Find the sign up at The Coaching Supervision Academy CPD events through this link: https://csasupervisors.com/event-5078183

  • 14 Feb 2023 12:20 PM | Anonymous

    by CSA Accredited Supervisor Andrew Tallents Andrew Tallents

    On Valentines Day all leaders have a chance to show they do have a soft centre after all. This article explores how leaders can move from thinking to feeling for at least one day a year.

    A story about a leader and a dog

    Once upon a time, there was a leader named John, who prided himself on being logical and level-headed. Whenever a team member would come to him in tears, he would calmly ask them why they were crying and then offer practical solutions to their problems and expect them to quickly move on.

    One day, on his way home from work, John saw a dog lying on the side of the road, whimpering in pain. He approached the dog, but it was clear that it was too late to save it. All John could do was sit there with the dog, petting it gently and offering comfort as it took its final breaths.

    A man and a dog

    As John walked home, he couldn't shake the memory of the dog's suffering and the sense of helplessness he felt in the face of it. He realized that, just like the dog, sometimes people don't need a solution to their problems, but just someone to be there with them in their pain.

    The next day at work, a team member came to John in tears. Instead of offering solutions, John simply sat with her and listened as she shared her feelings. The team member was surprised by John's sudden show of empathy and felt truly heard and understood for the first time. From then on, John made a point of being present for his team members in their moments of vulnerability, offering a listening ear and a supportive presence.

    In the end, John realised that being a true leader isn't just about making the smartest decisions or being the most efficient, but about showing compassion and self-leadership by being there for others when they need it most.

    Historic Compassionate Leaders

    Throughout history, great leaders have demonstrated their love and affection for their followers in various ways. From powerful speeches to acts of kindness, these leaders have shown that love is a vital component of effective leadership.

    One of the most iconic examples of a leader's love for their followers is Martin Luther King Jr. King was a powerful orator, and his speeches were filled with love and compassion for his fellow human beings. His famous "I Have a Dream" speech, delivered during the March on Washington in 1963, is a prime example of this. In his speech, King called for an end to racial injustice and discrimination, but he did so with love and understanding, emphasizing the need for unity and togetherness.

    Another great leader who demonstrated his love for his followers was Mahatma Gandhi. Gandhi was a spiritual leader and political activist who led India to independence from British rule. His approach to leadership was based on the principle of nonviolent resistance, which he called Satyagraha. Gandhi's ability to show love and compassion for his followers, even in the face of great adversity, was a key factor in his success as a leader.

    Nelson Mandela is another example of a leader who showed his love for his followers. Mandela spent 27 years in prison for his anti-apartheid activism in South Africa, but when he was released, he showed no bitterness or anger towards his oppressors. Instead, he preached forgiveness and reconciliation, emphasizing the need for unity and understanding.

    Raising Awareness of the Power of Love

    Valentine's Day is a day to celebrate love and affection, and this applies not just to personal relationships but also to professional ones. For leaders who have built their success on rational thinking and data-driven decision-making, it may be challenging to shift focus to the emotional side of leadership. However, taking time to stop and show love and appreciation for those around you can have long-term benefits for your organisation's performance.

    Leaders who show their love and appreciation for their stakeholders, including employees, customers, and suppliers, can build stronger relationships and foster a more positive work culture. By taking the time to connect with others on a personal level, leaders can create a sense of loyalty and trust that can lead to improved collaboration, productivity, and overall performance.

    One way to demonstrate love and appreciation on Valentine's Day is by recognizing and rewarding the hard work and achievements of your team members. You can do this through a thoughtful note, a small gift, or by simply taking the time to express your gratitude and appreciation for their efforts.

    Another way to show love and appreciation is to actively listen to your stakeholders' feedback and concerns. By demonstrating empathy and understanding, leaders can build trust and create an environment where everyone feels valued and heard. Leaders who listen and respond to their stakeholders' needs can make better decisions that are more aligned with their values and goals, ultimately improving performance.

    It's important to note that showing love and appreciation shouldn't just be a one-day event; it should be a consistent practice throughout the year. By making a habit of showing love and appreciation, leaders can create a positive work culture where everyone feels valued and supported. This, in turn, can lead to improved employee engagement, customer satisfaction, and overall business performance.

    Love is tough to talk about for many leaders

    Read more from Andrew:
    LinkedIn profile

  • 2 Feb 2023 1:02 PM | Anonymous

    by CSA FAculty member Karyn Prentice Karyn Prentice

    Helen Keller said that all that what we love becomes a part of us. These words arose in my memory when I was out on a morning walk earlier this week when we had a wave of arctic -5-degree weather. It was my usual walk with Gracie, my dog, and she was bouncy, excited to be walking on the crunchy frosted grass. It really seemed to enliven her in a way the same grass of the week before had not been so.

    Gracie in woodland nature

    The cold made me pay more notice about where I was stepping not wanting to go bum- over- head on an icy patch and it also made me slow down. It was then that I focused more on the way ice crystals formed on everything, on every branch, and on each leaf dressed in a sheath of white like someone had sprinkled sugar over everything. Everything was dressed in white. In that all but silent space nature was offering up a whole new mid-winter outfit she didn’t get to dress up in very often and she was a stunner. It made my day that walk of wonder – inviting to see my every day neighbourhood morning with a fresh gaze, falling love all over again. I saw that I am in and of nature in a different way.

    And this is not just in the ordinariness of every day walks. What a lot of my clients say when we are out together walking through a question they are pondering, is that when Nature is folded into the conversation consciously it has an impact on how they look around them, and there is an intimacy of the surroundings that falls into step with them. It enhances their reflections and connections and also on their state of being. It is offering new ways of being and doing which are coming together as insight and wisdom.

    One client who I have known a long time was coming to the end of the story she was feeling stuck in, working out a strategy that might help her and knowing “a piece was missing”. We decided to walk out this mystery and see what would arise. I invited her to walk until something she saw, experienced or noticed would tell her what the missing piece was about. We walked quietly along a trail that went through a park and into a small wood. After a couple of minutes, she stopped and pointing to the grounds said that’s it. Right in the middle of the path equidistance between two hedges was a small stone shaped roughly like a heart. That’s it she said. I have been coming at my issue from a purely analytical perspective and it is missing a huge piece here. What does my heart need?

    What does your heart need?

    Pema Chodron in her teachings for awakening the heart in everyday life1 speaks of resting in the nature of allay; the essence. Alaia comes from both the Hebrew and Sanskrit word for dwelling, a home place if you like. Somewhere to rest in presence and consider what needs our attention. We can bring our minds back home and rest right there, in present, unbiased awareness. For me Nature can feel like that place even with the changing of the weather, even with the evolution of the seasons and even with the comings and goings of issues. Here is a place stop, rest. Collect and recentre, find the wisdom we need.

    In embracing the role nature plays we have the potential for three things. Firstly, we recognise that we are intrinsically part of nature in all its permutations around us from icy crystals to forests and rivers; everything is connected, we are all in kinship. Secondly, we honour this relationship in its fragility and through its messages from the small ones that inspire day to day encounters and also in the big ones that call us out to take big action today for tomorrow’s reckoning. Thirdly, it invites us to we step forward to protect nature, - to take practical steps to look after what we love as guardians. In looking after nature, we look after ourselves and each other. Because what we love has become a part of us.

    Journey through a way to recognise, honour and explore in the close up and personal with our new programme “Sacred Landscape with NATURE AS INSPIRATION AND PARTNER: A Year’s Immersion in Nature and the Wisdom of the Five Seasons to Enrich You and You’re Coaching and Supervision Practice

    Join Elaine Patterson and me and bring Nature into the picture to inspire your work and be a place to dwell regardless of what hemisphere you live and work in. This exquisite metaphor has something to offer for coaches or coaching supervisors. We start in March, meet virtually once a season for five seasons, mornings or afternoons at your time zone choice.

    Find the sign up at The Coaching Supervision Academy CPD events through this link: Sacred Landscape with Nature as Inspiration and Partner

    Click here for detailed brochure for the programme

  • 27 Dec 2022 9:36 AM | Anonymous

    By CSA Supervisor Amanda RidingsAmanda Ridings

    Prompted by a conversation with Wendy Palmer a few years ago, I’ve been clarifying my understanding of the terms ‘somatic’ and ‘embodied’ and exploring the relationship between them. The words are sometimes used interchangeably – and I’ve blurred the distinctions myself. I’m a Leadership Embodiment (LE) teacher and use LE practices in all my work, but I have occasionally described my approach as somatic to capitalise on the currency of this word in coaching contexts.

    In fact, the words have different meanings – as Wendy pointed out! Both pertain to the body, but they have distinguishing characteristics. Further, as they’ve become more commonly used, they’ve acquired nuanced layers of inference and implication. It’s easy to assume we know what someone means by ‘somatic’, for example, but a cursory search for a definition yields many variations on a theme, each grounded in a different discipline.

    While the word ‘somatic’ is somewhat open to interpretation, it’s clear that its root is somatikos, Greek for ‘concerning the body’. Somatic is an adjective, a descriptor, and is most usefully followed by whatever it’s describing. It doesn’t really stand alone and yet, colloquially, ‘somatics’ is used as a noun. It seems to have come to refer to internal physical perception and experience – and to listening for and picking up the signals that the body emits to indicate discomfort or imbalance. As understanding of this area evolves, fields of practice such as therapy and coaching are finding ways to apply what’s discovered.

    Embodiment, the act of embodying or the state of being embodied, also has various meanings. My dictionary includes the following: to form into a body, to make tangible, to express, to make part of a body, to incorporate, to organise. It can also be used when someone or something exemplifies an idea, principle or value. Embodiment is a noun, whilst to embody is a verb. To me, the essence of a personal practice of ‘embodying’ is a sense of agency, of consciously shaping ourselves in relation to an environment and what we’re encountering in it.

    Wearing my dialogue hat, I might venture that somatic practice is one of inquiry, of seeking to discover, of listening to and making sense of our internal and proprioceptive experiences. In contrast, embodied practice is one of advocacy, of expressing a response to events in the way we carry ourselves. Just as dialogue is a skilful dance between inquiry and advocacy, being agile in balancing somatic data and embodied action might enhance our energetic ‘conversation’ with the world.

    For me, somatic experience can represent a ‘notification’ that something needs attention. We can learn to use it as a call to recover centre, a resourceful state that enables us to respond skilfully to the stimulus that activated the somatic signal.

    For example, when something untoward happens to me, such as not getting a piece of work I’ve set my heart on, I crumple a little around my solar plexus. It’s like a balloon deflating slightly. It’s a small movement, but if I catch it and use it as a prompt to access centre, I’m less likely to feel completely demoralised. I also get this somatic ‘alert’ from my solar plexus when I feel a bit frustrated. If I notice this and attend to it by using the LE centring practice, I’m much less likely to express my exasperation by metaphorically ‘headbutting’ someone – which tends to mean a better outcome! Having recovered centre, I’m more likely to bring humour, compassion and creativity to a situation.

    What I love about the LE approach is its immediacy. A somatic ‘alert’ prompts us to take steps to quickly recover centre so we approach the presenting issue more fruitfully. In the moment, we’re not interested in why we’ve flinched, closed, tensed or subsided, we simply want to ensure we don’t act from this unsettled state. To function well in the face of adversity, we work with ‘what is so’ rather than wondering about why it’s so.

    At a later time and in another setting, we may seek insight into the source of our somatic experience – but what matters in real time is conscious embodied action that reflects our values. LE practices support me to do this.


    • When something occurs that isn’t to your liking, what shows up in your body?

    • What will assist you to collect yourself and embody your values in the way you respond?


    I’m renewing my efforts to bring these practices into the world. As part of this, I am hosting a (non-residential) 2-day Leadership Embodiment level 1 workshop in Edinburgh in January

    Join me for Embodying Resilience, 24&25 January 2023, Edinburgh

  • 23 Dec 2022 4:30 PM | Anonymous

    Connect to living systemsAuthors: Loïc Delcros, Emmanuelle Katz and CSA Faculty member Andra Morosi

    3.8 billion years of life on Earth. 3.8 billion years of experimentation, production, exchanges and evolutions have given us a planet Earth which is a source of abundance. 3.8 billion years of development of Living Systems.

    And we, women and men, are part of the Living Systems. We are the Living Systems, together with the birds, the trees or the mycelium - more than a bond, a belonging, a union and a co-responsibility.

    What if reconnecting to the Living Systems was the key to our future, given the context of uncertainty we are currently facing? A collective reconnection of individuals, communities and organizations, geared towards abundance.

    At Seedlings, we believe in reconnecting thanks to the power of our inner transformations, reconnecting in service of abundance in our organizations, reconnecting through the opening of our imaginations. What if…

    What if... for each one of us, leader, team member or partner, reconnecting to the Living Systems was an immediately accessible opening towards something greater than ourselves? 

    Caught up in the hectic pace of our lives made of a continuous succession of actions and reactions, we are more than often trapped in an automatic, mechanical, and sclerotic functioning. And yet, at any time, each of us can reconnect to the closest and most accessible part of Living Systems: life itself or nature in the vicinity.

    Instantly and at any moment, I have the possibility of feeling life through my breath and through the air (some speak of Prana: the energy contained in the air). This air connects all living beings on Earth. By simply connecting to my breath, I connect to the Living.

    Instantly and at any moment, I can also sense life through my bodily sensations which provides me with precise information about what I am experiencing physically and emotionally. I can then connect to a deeper dimension of myself, as a source of information and inner wisdom. Everyone can learn to rely on this "inner compass", in resonance with the Living in the depths of his or her being, to guide ourselves in existence, to find and anchor our bearings and establish fairer and more harmonious relationships with self, with others and with the world.

    Instantly and at any moment, I can connect to others, starting with my close circle of friends, to contact what is most alive in each of them: in particular their emotions and their needs, as Marshall Rosenberg's Non Violent Communication invites us to do. Connected by the universality of our emotions and needs, we are able to better understand each other and to team up, to move forward together towards greater solidarity and fraternity and navigate the ecological and societal transition that is ahead of us.

    Instantly, when I have the opportunity to go out for a few minutes in a natural setting, I can also strengthen and increase my physical, cognitive, emotional and creative capabilities. And this without any effort, only thanks to the beneficial effect of the presence of a natural environment (and in particular trees) as demonstrated by numerous recent scientific studies (1).

    Reconnecting to the Living Systems within and around us makes us individually more anchored, more creative and more joyful, without additional resources other than our awareness, awareness of ourselves, of others and of nature.

    What if... for organizations, reconnecting to the Living Systems was a source of abundance?

    "Go see nature, that's where your future lies" said Leonardo da Vinci. Today engineers, designers or architects are inspired by the extraordinary diversity produced by living things to imagine the products and organizations of tomorrow.

    In a biomimicry approach, they seek the answers provided by the immense library of life to ensure essential functions (protection, movement, communication, exchange, organization, etc.) in order to adapt them to their problems. For example, close observation of the structure of shark skin prompted Speedo to develop a bathing suit (the fastskin) the hydrodynamic properties of which have made it possible to beat numerous swimming records (even if they have subsequently been disputed).

    What if, for a business, for an organization, beyond the biomimetic inspiration, reconnecting to the Living Systems meant giving itself an ambition of abundance, in the long term? Abundance for each of the stakeholders, including for the planet? Only the Living Systems have the ability to self-construct, to self-organize, to self-repair. Only the Living Systems have the capacity to evolve. What if our organizations had the ambition to leverage all the available potential by reconnecting to the Living Systems?

    Here’s an example. Did you know that permaculture combines a very fine knowledge of the principles of growth and collaboration between species with the analysis of the existing ecosystem, in order to optimize the natural cooperation of plants and their environment? By observing the characteristics of the existing land, permacultural farmers favor the planting of species whose collaboration will be the most fruitful for their own growth. Once the organization is in place, the natural cooperation of the species makes it possible to obtain exceptional yields with a minimum of human intervention, and without any industrial inputs.

    For an activity that has been practiced by millions of people for more than 8000 years, that is agriculture, the first permaculture farms showed a value creation up to 3 times higher than traditional farms.

    It is an extraordinary example of an alliance between human intelligence and the Living, an alliance that creates abundance, a major innovation. What if this innovation was applied to all sectors of activity, and all organizations, based on what already exists, in alliance with the Living Systems?

    And what if we also … in our language and our interactions, we strengthen this link to create the conditions for constant inspiration?

    How can we sow the seeds of hope for a desirable future for ourselves, our ecosystems and our planet?

    How to water fertile ideas to see the fields of possibilities bloom?

    How can we cultivate our points of view to allow the emergence of ideas and solutions that we can only imagine collectively?

    How to germinate dreams and watch them blossom?

    How do we clear the land for new ideas, welcome new horizons and nurture our resilience?

    How to branch out the links between living things, elements of the plant, mineral and animal kingdom, cultures and spaces?

    How to fertilize knowledge by recycling elements of the past and present to stimulate innovation?

    How to dig off the beaten track to diversify approaches, impulses and know-how?

    How to prune the superfluous and the harmful to preserve the positive energy that sets us in motion?

    How to take care of seedlings and young shoots to promote growth, development and well-being for everyone?

    How can we bud with creativity to imagine new stories, fully develop ourselves and be in harmony with our environment?

    How to harvest the fruits of an abundance to be found?

    What if reconnecting to the Living Systems was the key to our future? A collective reconnection of individuals, communities and organizations, geared towards abundance?

    At Seedlings, we are professional coaches committed to serve the Living with humility and ambition. From where we are, in companies and organizations, let's write this part of history together by reconnecting to the Living Systems.


    (1) The American philosopher Eugène Gendlin, a pupil of Carl Rogers, developed in the 70s an approach centered on deciphering the sensations of our body: focusing. This approach can guide us through the ecological and societal transition that presents itself to us, while remaining anchored in the Living Systems.

    (2) In "Natura: why nature heals us and makes us happier" (2019, in French) Pascale d'Erm lists the benefits of outdoor work observed by researchers for more than 30 years.

    with permmission from https://en.seedlings-transition.com

  • 15 Nov 2022 2:26 PM | Anonymous

    By CSA Supervisor Laurie Hillis Laurie Hillis

    What is your impact on the world?

    Do you consider yourself self-aware? What does that mean to you? I think that simply asking the question causes us to look at ourselves…potentially for the first time for some of us. Looking at who we are at our core isn’t for the faint of heart; it’s difficult. We aren’t always going to like what we see. And we might be inclined to ignore those pieces. But if they are part of who we are, shouldn’t we consider them when truly examining ourselves?

    Pebble footprints in sand

    I think we can agree that looking inside ourselves is a big part of gaining self-awareness. But that’s not the whole of it. Being truly self-aware requires seeing ourselves for who we are, how we think and feel, what we believe, what we know, how we see the world, and, here’s the kicker, how we impact others.

    It turns out, self-awareness isn’t only about knowing ourselves, it’s about understanding how what we do and say affects or influences other people.

    None of us is alone in this world; no one acts in isolation, ever. The thoughts we have, the things we do, the words we say – all land in unique ways for people around us, whether we intend for it or not.

    And it’s not just the people we know; those we can see. It’s wild to think that how we behave and speak can affect even people we don’t know. Take this blog, for example. I might not know you, but my words are having an effect on you. Whether you like or dislike, agree or disagree with what I say, you are digesting the words I’ve written, as they appear on your screen, and deciding what, if anything, you think about them.

    We might even do something in the regular course of our day that unknowingly impacts someone else. I immediately think about how I’m impacted by how someone treats strangers. In the simplest example, when I see a young person opening a door for a stranger, I am impacted. Even though I will never speak with that person, I notice their kind gesture, and I reflect on whether I would have done the same thing in that situation. It wakes me up to realize that we have countless choices every day and choosing to hold the door open for a stranger makes this world a better place, door by door.

    On the flip side, when we do something that is less than caring, or without thought, we have an impact on others too. If I’m running to catch the elevator door behind someone already inside, and they look at me but don’t stop the door from closing, I feel a little deflated. That feeling doesn’t dissipate quickly. I might even take it with me as I enter wherever I was headed, and snap at someone who has done nothing to deserve my negative mood.

    Isn’t that remarkable? The unknown of how we affect others is exponentially greater than the known. I believe there are endless instances every day for us to have an impact on someone and we don’t even know it.

    A friend recently told me that when she resigned from her job, she was deeply touched by the messages she received from those with whom she had worked. Many of the messages were specific, thoughtful, and touching. They weren’t your run-of-the-mill, “Best wishes in your future endeavours” sentiments. They were detailed, describing exactly how she had had an impact on them and why she would be missed. Many of the instances shared were things she had no idea had had an impact on her co-workers. Some of them, she didn’t even remember.

    Hearing my friend’s story made me wonder how I impact others without even knowing it – positive and negative. I might not fully appreciate how I show up in others’ views, but I know this for sure – I will be more intentional about what I say and do, and how it might impact others. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t intend on changing who I am – those of you who know me, know that I am authentically me, always – but I will pay closer attention to opportunities to positively impact those around me.

    Yet another flip side – I’m also reflecting on who has had an impact on me. For those who have caused me to smile, to sit up a little taller, to feel good about myself, I’m going to tell them. They deserve to know.

    My challenge to you is three-fold:

    1. Pay attention to how you are showing up in the world, take opportunities to be kind, compassionate, and to build others up. And for those people who you don’t interact with directly, remember, people are watching you.

    2. Think about who has had a positive impact on you and tell them what you appreciate about them.

    3. Use the thoughts offered in this blog to practice self-compassion; treating yourself like you would a good friend, especially for those times you may be critical of yourself for your behaviour.

    Life is full of opportunities to have an impact and to show appreciation. Today, take the opportunity. You never know who you’re going to make smile.

    Laurie Hillis is an Accredited CSA Supervisor and a qualified Dare to Lead™ Facilitator. She founded Megatrain encouraging clients to take the lead on their own learning journeys with Laurie as their thinking partner.

  • 12 Nov 2022 12:56 PM | Anonymous

    by CSA Supervisor Keri Phillips Keri Phillips

    The world of coaching has changed dramatically in recent years, particularly this century; arguably it has been a revolution rather than an evolution. The purpose of this paper is to take stock for a moment and catch breath; namely to look a little more closely at those changes, their consequences and the challenges and opportunities which arise.

    I will set the scene by considering briefly the wider context, then offer a model which seeks to provide an overview of the current nature of coaching; I then consider some of the repercussions. My aim ultimately, is not to offer a series of actions that might be taken. Rather if any of this paper resonates and prompts ideas, whether vague or clear, I hope then that this may lead to further explorations and discussions; hopefully productive and enjoyable.

    Read the Full Paper

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