What is the power of opening our hearts that it can transform our lives? In my experience coaching people making career and life-balance changes, being supported in connecting with that which you love is the true foundation for making transformative change happen. This isn't something that you generally learn in school, and it's not often what you learn professionally. Just try, however, to undertake something really challenging, like making a profound change in the way you work or live, and see if you can do this without going deeply into your heart.
Rachel Naomi Remen, M.D.—founder of Commonweal and renowned for her healing work with doctors struggling with burnout in trying to heal gravely ill patients— writes in her book, My Grandfather's Blessings, "The heart has the power to transform experience. No matter what we do, finding fulfillment may require learning to cultivate the heart and its capacity for meaning in the same way that we are now taught to pursue knowledge or expertise."
A young doctor, LaVera, who came to see Remen told her about a traumatic event where another first-year student in her medical program suddenly dropped dead. No one in her class, including the professors, talked about the impact of this experience. Busy as the students were with their 18-hour days, they just rolled on through the year without any acknowledgement of how they were affected by this event.
Months later in a pathology class, the professor passed around a congenitally deformed heart and casually remarked that it had belonged to the student who'd suddenly died.
The sudden impact of that remark hit LaVere like a bolt of lightning, but she noticed that none of the other students showed any sign of emotional distress. And neither did she—until she told her story to Remen and wept.
The metaphor of the heart and what happens when we hold ourselves back from what we feel speaks directly to what is so important about coaching and being coached from the heart. It's often not easy to take the first step in changing your professional identity. You might find it hard to acknowledge sadness or shame at not having taken a different path earlier. You might feel fear (as well as excitement) at leaving a profession in which you've spent years training and working.
As a coach, tuning in to the emotional aliveness of what my clients are feeling in the midst of making powerful changes is a vital, endlessly fascinating part of my work.
For me, this is transformational coaching and has a broad foundation in love. From this aware and caring space, I give people the welcoming experience of being free to be who they really are (sometimes for the first time in their lives) and make new choices for their lives that really matter to them now.
How do you know when you're following the direction of your heart and spirit? It feels easy to go forward in this way because you're drawn to this energy. Think of people you know whom you enjoy being around because they love being who they are and doing what they do. Because they work, relate, and engage with aliveness, awareness, and spirit, with every cell of their body. Because they shine with the joy of living and working with purpose and love.
I'm thinking of the joy, engagement, and purpose I've seen emerge through coaching and mentoring people from a place of loving connection. There was the coach who was so energized with the new, heart-centered depth to her work with her clients by integrating somatic awareness and techniques she learned during our mentoring sessions. And there was the architect who moved out of burnout and breakdown in health to radiant joy in creating his own business and shifting his priorities to have time for his family, fitness, and creative passion.
Opening your heart allows you to claim what has meaning and what gives joy to your life! In this way, you can dare to risk making the changes you need to work and live with fulfillment, to create and transform. When you then share with others what you love, you let the joy within yourself flow out and inspire them, too.
What's a transformational change you've experienced that opened your heart and changed your life?