Brahmacharya is the first Hindu asrama (stage of life as outlined in the Veda) in which a young person receives practical instruction from family and begins to study the Veda with an experienced master or priest.

The word bramacharya once indicated the observance of correct sexuality, in this case the necessity of self-imposed celibacy.

The tradition was mostly followed by the brahmin caste in classical Hinduism but has mostly lapsed in contemporary Hinduism.

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The Uses of Vulnerability

Vulnerability is the source of courage.

The ICF International conference just concluded in Longon.
All three keynote speakers—called Super Catalysts—were amazing. Day one kicked off with Brene Brown; she calls herself a “shame researcher.” She contrasts shame, a protective shield, with vulnerability. Vulnerability, according to Brown, is the very heart of human relationships. After studying hundreds of “whole-hearted” individuals she concluded they shared certain traits: during crisis they do not bargain with their self worth. As a lifestyle they consciously choose rest and play over exhaustion. And they invariably have some sort of creative practice.

Whole-hearted people practice vulnerability, which Brown calls the exquisite or excruciating path. By allowing vulnerability they open the door to a range of emotions, from shame, fear, anxiety and grief to love, belonging and joy. The person living whole-heartedly does not shirk from these emotions.

In everyday life vulnerability is a one-way street: it’s the first thing I look for in you, but it’s the last thing I want to disclose in me. We think we can be vulnerable in personal relations, but when it comes to professional life a wall goes up and we don’t allow vulnerability. “I don’t do vulnerability–I’m a lawyer.” Vulnerability is not consistent with the myth of the perfect professional.

The vulnerability and shame emotion complexes play out differently for everyone. Some people stay on guard for shame signals, which may range from body weight to the appearance of weakness. Others learn to embrace vulnerability, and speak about it. As coaches we can help people see their emotional profiles. Perspectives from such researchers as Brown give us material to discuss with clients that can in turn lead to new perspectives for clients.

Y-Model Coaching

This coaching model positions the coachee as a consciousness pushing through time. Time is a series of accordion frames, each instant a framed situation registered but not held onto by the consciousness. A series of such instants creates the impression of the passage of time unfolding like a bellows, in gusts and lulls. The bellows will deflate, then inflate, and during each movement eventually reach a point of extreme extension before moving back in its track. A rhythm is then created, the extension and contraction of time.

Y model coaching focuses on the extra-rhythmic points of departure. Such departures are into new possibilities outside the rhythmic norm. They are events that arise and confront, sometimes shockingly, sometimes without registering on the consciousness. At each departure point the coachee chooses a path that disrupts a rhythmic series. The goal of Y-model coaching is to elicite, grasp and consciously choose the departure points.

Passage through a departure point creates implications beyond the regular rhythmic passage of time. A range of possibilities, distinctly perceived, is seen clearly. With choice one possibility is taken and others are abandoned. This decision point is the node of the Y.

Yet the alternative frame not chosen does not disappear. It may have always been present as latent possibility. Excluding the operation of normal rhythmic time, all possibilities are present already, and only arise and are brought into view when we become aware of a Y node event.

Y model coaching is based on the premise that all possibilities exist and can be activated. The activation process involved in Y model coaching is the consciousness alighting on latent possibilities. Like a line of gunpowder creating a fast-moving trail of fire and smoke, the activated consciousness moves through the series of possibilities, igniting those chosen. The possibilities pre-existed their firing up, and continue to exist after they flare into the frame. The aware consciousness fires frame-by-frame, incorporating in each frame all potential.

Within this field of infinite possibilities the conscious sees the trails of accustomed thought, rushing here and there. These sequences of unfolding are the rhythmic life sequences. Rhythmic life sequences unfold with some predictability because of the assumptions of normalcy. Certain life-tracks are assumed to be normal and the consciousness passing through these tracks does so rhythmically. The consciousness also sees radical possibilities, thoughts that run counter to accustomed thought, possibilities that are sensed instead of known. Y-model coaching exposes all possibilities. The coachee can see the impact of nodal points and will decide consciously, not automatically.

So if there are multiple possibilities, why a Y shape? Why reduce the choices to two? Because at the point of decision there is a final stage where the individual chooses between the choice of momentum and all the rest. If we choose according to accustomed thought there is less disruption. A radical choice leads to maximum disruption. Regardless, there is always a final point where the individual steps onto the chosen path.

Most people back into the future, facing the past, following well-honed sequences assumed to unfold predictably. The aware individual, in contrast, faces each nodal point with awareness, with arms open wide.

Sanctuary in the Coaching Process

Sanctuary implies calm, yet means more than quietude.

The concept of sanctuary has two aspects. The word sanctuary originally derives from the Latin sanctus, or sacred. This first meaning thus implies a sacred space. A traditional sanctuary is not a space created, it is a space existing and ready to be found. The second sense of sanctuary is a refuge, a place of safety. In this sense sanctuary is attained; the seeker, in peril, reaches safe shores.

Sanctuary intersects the coaching process in two ways. First the coach helps create a safe zone, a mental construct of mutual respect, trust and discovery. This zone can be actively created in a visualization of boundaries around the coaching space, a protective bubble of safety, or its creation may be a side benefit of focused coaching, where the safe space is felt to exist. Either way it is real. And the coach plays an important role in maintaining this space of safety. In this sense the zone is portable, and does not necessarily imply location.

Sanctuary can be a sacred space.

Naturally specific locales may be found to work better; when I meditate I feel more at home in some places than in others, and similar results may accumulate with coaching. But it is not a requirement to locate your coaching in those places, if you allow the process to flow.

Sanctuary as refuge, its second sense, implies more than a safe zone, however. It points to the process of attaining that far-off shore, a distant goal attained. This meshes with the coaching process as movement. Not simply basking in the divine light, the seeker here engages with divine dance. As coaches we help people see this other shore, help them face the obstacles and reach that distant light. They proceed not as refugees, but as seekers. Sanctuary here implies not desperation and plight, but movement into destiny.

Shiva's dance, the dance of life and creation, animates the vision-like pull of sanctuary.

Finding sanctuary then has passive and active senses, and both are legitimate models for coaching. There is something innately human about this dual nature of sanctuary: we move through cycles of repose and action, rhythms uniquely personal, and as coaches we honor that rhythm in others.

The Digital Age and Coaching

Technological extension or revolution?


We are in a digital era, the beginnings of one. That’s my belief, at least. I may be wrong. We may simply be extending technologies and institutions of the past, milking them for all they’re worth, as world population merrily expands and the environment gets ready to implode. But I think not. I think humans are once again doing their thing, which means social evolution.

To sort through this there is a useful distinction between extension and revolution. Extension means doing the same thing, just better; marginal improvements in technology, for instance, which serve to accomplish the same end, just faster, or with fewer defects. Revolution is something else. The old is discarded and something else put in its place. It’s giddy, scary, and not always successful.

Both extension and revolution are part of evolution. Evolution is not always a smooth trajectory; things happen suddenly, randomly, and massively, disrupting expected outcomes. In the biosphere such changes may be brought on by the environment, but they do not all spring from adaptation.

My sense is that we are in the midst of a massive disruption brought on by technology. But not all the things we include in the lifestyle changes we call digital are part of the massive disruption.

Will social media platforms will lead to new social forms, ways of being in society?

Take email, for instance. Is it an extension or is it revolution? I suggest it is an efficient extension of previous communication technologies. As such we can therefore communicate by email faster and nearly instantaneously. But the end, communication, remains the same as in the pre-email period. I remember the fax, which worked fine too, using copper phone lines. And before that telex. We still got the job done.

This applies to many communication technologies today: text messaging, cell phones. They allow us to communicate and interlink better, and so allow existing patterns to intensify. So, not revolutionary.

Web 2.0 is, however, the beginning of a social revolution. An internet that works, spreading information instantaneously to anyone, is new. And social media which allow us to organize social interaction differently, that’s new. The disruptive impact of such technologies on daily life is increasingly clear.

For coaches, there are three fields to consider.

Tools of interaction: How can we use these new tools without getting lost and losing sight of our core identity as coaches? Will these things affect that core identity?

Authority: The old knowledge=power formula is breaking down, or perhaps only the corollary that you’d better be the gatekeepers of knowledge if you want to keep power. Regardless, knowledge, facts, understanding is now radically democratized to anyone with a browser. This has transformed markets and governments. Educational institutions need to rethink the how and why or risk becoming redundant anachronisms. Coaches are not tied to being gate keepers, right? So in theory coaching should rise in prominence. Coaching will be revealed as a natural fit for the age of diffuse authority.

Social formations: The net allows us to coalesce differently. Social groupings never seen before will emerge, from special interest groups to collaborative efforts. This will revolutionize how companies develop product and maintain ownership of designs. Can coaches be integral to this process? Is this the true frontier for coaching?

It’s all about challenges. And coaches love challenge.

Coaching Through Social Media

How can coaches adapt to the many digital tools out there, without being overwhelmed? What have others done? And will digital practices transform coaching itself?

Join the ICF Hong Kong Chapter at Pacific Coffee IFC, Hong Kong, Thursday July 28, 12:00-1:30, for a facilitated discussion with Ed Irons and other ICFHK member coaches.

Massive Wins as Life Skills

The controller:  key tool in life, and learning..?

Jane McGonigal of the Institute of the Future feels we need to harness the skills gamers have developed. We urgently need to harness these, to solve the intractable issues humanity faces. These include…but you know the list.

What exactly are these skills developed in hours of game playing? She lists four:

Urgent Optimism: These people never give up hope. They feel a massive win is within reach.

Tight Bonds: They understand trust, cooperation, all the team stuff.

Blissful Productivity: They get that work gives meaning to life, and they are not afraid to invest themselves.

Epic Meaning: They want to be attached to important projects.

These qualities can be harnessed, she says; indeed it is a tragedy if we do not utilize these talents. McGonigal’s research shows each gamer spends around 22 hours a week. which means they build up over 10,000 hours by the time they complete high school. Gaming is in effect a parallel education.

These results resound. Passions should not be dismissed; all of us develop meaningful talents over time-that is why we are here.