Coaching, Mindfully

Nicola 'Nic' Tait is a Sergeant currently serving on a Full Time Reserve Service contract in the UK’s Royal Air Force (RAF) and is one of our international eMMissaries. She joined the Regular RAF in 1998 and enjoyed tours around the UK in busy Personnel Services Flights at; RAF Coningsby, RAF Cosford, Tactical Supply Wing Stafford, RAF Honington and a Recruiting role in Shrewsbury. Now employed as Squadron Human Resources for a Reserves Logistics Squadron she is also qualified to train new Recruits as part of the Basic Recruit Training Course. As coaching and teaching are part of a triad with mentoring, Nic lays out some important considerations for coaches.


Mindfulness has steadily grown in popularity and use in recent years. Practiced the world over for thousands of years, it was in the 1970’s when some key influences took Eastern practices and developed them for Western audiences (see more at PositivePsycology.com).


One of those influences was Jon Kabat-Zinn, who developed the Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program, and successfully integrated it into a clinical setting. Later, the Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) program, developed by Zindel Segal, Mark Williams, and John Teasdale, followed (see also mbct.co.uk). Both programs worked hard to gain scientific credibility for what they knew to be true: mindfulness practices, integrated with clinical interventions, improve the rate at which patients recover from injury/surgery/mental illness. These claims are continuously backed up by the strength of data, especially with the technological advancements in brain monitoring equipment (see studies from the NCBI).


My own interest in mindfulness was piqued as a teen, living in India for a few years. On return to my own school in the UK, I often facilitated a body scan for my friends; it was more of a parlor trick than with any real understanding of the benefits a body scan can have! Fast forward 30 years and I am a qualified Coach, HeartMath Coach, and Mindfulness teacher.


When my RAF unit started a Staff Development Program back in 2016, I jumped at the chance of taking a few courses. This journey guided me to better understand myself, recognizing that beliefs and values can (and probably should) change through life, that we are not an end product but an evolving one. The power to choose more helpful ways of being, reacting, and interacting was so powerful that I felt compelled to learn more, and share that knowledge.


Coaching and mentoring both share the intention of supporting and guiding. For me, the integration of mindfulness practices, alongside coaching and mentoring relationships, offers huge potential for powerful insights.


Without present moment awareness, or the ability to sit with one's own thoughts, an intellectual process of ‘thinking differently’ won’t provide lasting change. Many of us have created strong neural pathways, with old habits and autopilot controlling our waking lives. It takes consistent effort to become more aware, and develop new neural pathways needed to embed a change. It is one thing to say, ‘’I need to be more patient’’, but quite another to execute patience in the heat of the moment!


Sitting with our thoughts, watching them with curiosity, acknowledging and naming them, allows us to bear witness rather than become caught up in them (find more resources at Insight International).


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