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Coaching In Nature: Why combine the outdoors with coaching?

This year I have been offering a new coaching package combining coaching and the outdoors, which I call Coaching in Nature.

You may be interested as to why coaching in nature came about and what the benefits are to setting your coaching session outdoors, so read on to find out more....

I have been actively building nature (particularly woodland) into my own well-being for some time now. Reaping the benefits of feeling refreshed, peaceful, calm and energised after a walk in the woods. I would go as far to say that the woodland is an integral part of my week these days and is a core aspect of me staying well, healthy and having a smile on my face and in my heart. Whether walking in nature or reading about the natural world and the benefits nature has on the health and wellness I find the woodland a great teacher in terms of learning to do or understand our own self-care. Similarly, clients have often shared with me the sense of feeling locked in to the daily grind and teetering on a knife edge of the work/life balance, stuck in the same environment and sometimes stifled by current routine.

There is a practice, based mainly in Japan called Shinrin-Yoku. In simple translation, this describes "forest bathing". A concept where people are encouraged to immerse themselves in the surroundings of a forest or outdoor space and through a combination of a short walk and basic mindfulness. Shinrin - Yoku demonstrates a psychological benefit for those experiencing it. Particularly relating to increased calm and reduced stress. I have found reading about this practice (Shinrin-Yoku) really interesting in terms of how it links with some of the principles founding the Coaching In Nature package at JKChangeWork.

It is commonly attributed that nature and being in the natural space, particularly when combined with exercise, improves mental health and well-being. A mutual aim in clients seeking out JKChangeWork is to do just that; improve mental health and well-being.

The concepts drawn upon in Shinrin- Yoku really compliment my own experience of being out in nature and a wooded space and the positive benefits it has on both providing space to process and finding a sense of calm in my mind. I read a lot about trees and often interweave this into working with clients, through metaphors that enable self-reflection and resolution. I read The Hidden Life of Trees by Peter Whollenben a few years back and found the book truly bought to life, some powerful metaphors for our own behaviours and some of the challenges we face in life. Creating a metaphor to locate and explore your issues can be a powerful way of getting to the root of a problem (excuse the pun).

The book is great for those of a scientific or spiritual mind and I encourage readers to reflect on their own circumstances in the themes of the chapters.

I have talked in the past about the significance of an environment being "right" when facilitating your change. Just on a practical level, when exploring change, it can be really helpful reflecting on an issue, resolving a conflict or looking to the future at reaching a goal to ensure the space you do it in facilitates and doesn't hinder your change. Giving yourself a different perspective, create new ways within an environment and you lead the way to change being easy and feeling safe.

You do this when entering into the coaching relationship and finding that safe space to create change. One of the simplest ways to create a new perspective comes from the newness and soon then the familiarity of walking through that coaching room door..."here change happens" (says the unconscious mind!).

If you have visited the session space at JKChangeWork you will have created an association with the safe space of change, in terms of how you connect into the space. Perhaps throwing off the cushions from the chair or removing your shoes when you arrive. Sitting in the same chair, so your mind and body is ready and focused on the session or even listening to the familiar sounds from outside. Your ears hear my voice, or your eyes meet my smile and the brain knows...I am here for change.

Now although I hope that the coaching room at my office is a welcoming and relaxing place to facilitate this change. You may be stuck in an office all day and just need a change of scenery to give your head and body the freedom of a new environment to explore and make change happen. Your tired over-worked mind may be gasping for some fresh air! Perhaps you long for time in nature and currently haven't been able to prioritise this because stress, worry or anxiety are tiring you out?

Imagine a scene.... you walk down a rooted path ...there are trees each side of the path and the ground is soft and forgiving below as you tread. You hear the sound of birdsong and the whisper of wind through the leaves. A grand old oak tree is greened around the edges with moss yet its deep brown bark sits in contrast to the bluebells growing at it's root. As you walk through you hear the odd crack of fallen twigs at your feet.

To your right there is a large natural pond, where nature has grown wilder and wilder. A rustle in the trees to your right sees the swift blur and bob of some young deer as they disappear into the woodland walk to a clearing where there is a bench, it it calm here and still. All around you are trees just beginning to grow bright with the seasons foliage.... you find your self at peace... you find yourself with space... you take a breath of the cool calm air in to your lungs and feel it tingle into your chest and even, maybe, to your finger tips...... this is where your coaching in nature session begins.

From here we benefit from the surrounds of the environment, we use the natural habitat as our resources while focusing on the practical activities that the coaching sessions offers.. to find resolution... the stillness contributes to still minds, the expanse adds to the safety and security as we explore and resolve the issues that have been weighing you down throughout the day.... Your shoulders ease....there is space in your mind..... When we end the session you leave too any negative or limiting thoughts from the day, to drift away in the space of the woodland... as you step back down the path.... feeling lighter and more complete.. for you. ..Trees rustle and blow in the wind along with those thoughts... Leaving you with clarity, calm and confidence.

Nature can bring peace of mind. Coaching can bring peace of mind.

The perfect combination.

So here's your call for action....remove the suits and put on those boots and lets explore the power of a coaching session in the outdoors.

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