Keith Holden is a jazz monk (sharing their aims while instead of making vows, prefers to improvise). An author and coach with a background in various collaborative arts, he is currently completing the 2018-2019 Generative Coaching Programme in the UK.
While we’re all now familiar with the concept of generating as the creation of something new, happiness is not what you think, because we don’t think happy, we feel it.
Can you feel it?
Feel what exactly?
Ok let’s use the dictionary as a resource even if it does involve some thinking. It turns out that like the word happen, happiness is derived from the old Norse word happ meaning luck, as in fortuitous events that happen.
Sure we can all feel ‘good’ about those but as Sir Philip Sidney wrote, ‘Cursed be good haps; and cursed be they that build their hopes on haps.’
We can do better than that.
And since luck favours the prepared let’s begin.
Let’s set the intention of redefining the word happiness.
How about being in harmony with what ever is happening?
Whether within or without, may you live in harmony.
And yes you guessed it, until we’re buddhas, it just ain’t gonna happen all the time.
But take heart, and welcome…
Through experience, wounding, healing, understanding and ultimately practice, we can generate longer periods of harmony as well as shortening the gaps in between. That’s what I signed up for anyway.
To be in harmony with what is happening requires one of two paths.
The path of happ, whether through luck or design, focuses on making sure what is happening holds some value to you (and best remember we all value different things. One man’s harmony is another woman’s disharmony, though I did mention something about being buddhas) while the path of equanimity focuses on experiencing anything that happens without preference as it is; somatically.
This state is not to be confused with indifference, rather the one sided emotions of resentment, guilt, fear and infatuation make way for the synthesized states of grace, joy, compassion and unconditional gratitude & love.
So should one focus on being happy with what one has, or instead focus on gaining happiness through getting what one wants? This is a challenging paradox indeed, while if life was as easy to master as a game of noughts and crosses there wouldn’t really be much point in playing.
Hmmm… and spoiler alert for those who prefer to look away. The ambition of this blog is to demonstrate how generative coaching nurtures both. And we’re going to need a bigger resource than the Oxford English dictionary.
I invite the Buddha as a sponsor…
Siddhårtha Gautama was a fully realised applied research neuroscientist, whose methods for achieving a mighty equanimous coach state is fortunately well documented. So inspired by my somatic understanding through the practice of Vipassana meditation, let’s have a look at the wisdom of the Mahasatipatthana Suta in combination with the four noble truths and a mighty dose of poetic license.
Everything is in a constant state of impermanent transformation. An acorn morphing into a mighty oak tree only to die, rot and create fertile soil for new life is a wonderful example. It is only our perception of time and the attachment to certain events within it that blinds us to the actuality that we are constantly living amongst unexplainable miracles… …and yet they can be felt.
The deepest and most fundamental level of consciousness lies in our somatic sensations that can only be experienced in the present moment as they arise and pass away. They are also our link to the impermanent Universe since transformation and sensations are one and the same. If nothing is changing, what is there to feel?
Just like a single celled organism, we then react to our sensations going towards what we see as the cause of some, and away from others (initially in our case through screaming and communicating somatic peace to our moms). With repetition of reacting in certain ways to certain sensations, we begin to form the basis of our own unique set of cognitive preferences and automatic responses, essential for distinguishing between what is food and what is poison, and so on.
Unwittingly and unavoidably, this is also the cause of all suffering.
Suffering is caused by wanting – we either want something we don’t have or we don’t want something we do have. Meanwhile… discomfort is just a transient sensation that gets exaggerated through the reaction of wanting that sensation to stop, while craving is just a transient sensation that gets exaggerated through the reaction of wanting a different sensation to start.
The solution lies in mastering not wanting – though wanting not to want does exactly what is says on the warning label. Hmmm… now this is all getting a bit complicated, which to balance cognitively is no understatement.
So go deep to the fundamental level of your somatic sensations.
There is no need to react to that which will pass anyway.
Set an intention.
Hang on a minute, isn’t that wanting?
Like happiness, wanting is a word, and like all words, merely a signpost to what one is referring to. Desire is absolutely essential without which why bother even getting up in the morning? The Buddha wouldn’t have been hailed two and half millennia later without championing some massive intention. The problem doesn’t lie with the desire itself, rather the attachment to what the person is desiring. We’ve put an importance and are hanging onto an aspect that is preventing the project from working.
And since it is wise to be careful what you wish for, remember to get into a harmonious coach state of presence before you even choose. What ever is the truth, the dharma or natural law, that is exactly what we’re made of.
So go within.
Regardless of how,
Once one has connected to the somatic sensations,
One has become present…
In a coach state…
As it is.
There can be no distractions,
Sensations arising and passing away.
I am present while the future will be the result of how present I have been.
So let your somatic intelligence be your navigator…
And Now set an intention.
I want to live in harmony with natural law (and I am in harmony with what I want).
What wild animal doesn’t live in accordance with natural law? They are permanently connected to their somatic intelligence while it is only us humans that can loose our connection to the present through both hanging onto the past and projecting into the future with cognitive attachment.
Ah but what a gift our cognitive intelligence is!
Do you think there is significantly more information, understanding and wisdom available to your subconscious RIGHT NOW than you utilize?
Can you see that it is impossible for your brain to process the entirety of that information in one go?
Do you think you have a search engine within your being that is way more inventive than anything currently available on any computer?
The field, just like happiness, must be felt;
Allowing it’s infinite data to flow through you.
In this generative state, let the genius flow from your intention…
Since the spark of creativity is something you only need allow to happen.
In other words:
Intention + cognitive ingenuity + equanimous somatic awareness = channelling.
1) At what ever you’re putting in the time to master,
2) Which is a double bonus if there’s nothing else in the World you’d rather be mastering.
And who’s not going to be in harmony with that?
And just as soon as we take action we meet resistance.
When we try to achieve any goal, however simple, we encounter obstacles. Wanting them to go away is the surest way of ensuring they never will. But why want them to go away? Should a plane not welcome the resistance as it hurtles down a runway?
If it weren’t for the oncoming wind resistance, the plane wouldn’t have anything to push against and would never take off.
It is only an automatic reaction caused by attachment that can resist such a blessing!
So go within…
To the infinite NOW,
In harmony with what ever happens,
Welcoming resistance with the understanding that the somatic voices in your head
are always conspiring to do you favours.
Find your game!
Be equanimous to the goals you miss and score…
And in the words of Kalil Gibran,
May all your work be love made visible!
Keith Holden has worked as a musician with Paul McCartney, a flying trapeze artist and circus clown with Cirque du Soleil director Andrew Watson, a film editor for Walt Disney and as Creative Producer for Manumission, the Worlds largest weekly party that was Baz Luhrmann’s inspiration for the film Moulin Rouge. After the blessing of post traumatic stress disorder; a wound from which he’d found he’d healed even more, Keith found himself cutting out the medium of the art form and working directly with the person or people themselves. Hay House author of The Power of Raaargh!!! he is currently writing his second book, The Anonymous Autobiography of a Human Being.