Integral Coaching Canada

I've rarely experienced a 'training' program that so effectively combines rigorous methodology with generous heart. I now have a living compendium of precise, relevant practices.
— Susan Doe
Federal Government Manager
Working with Joanne and Laura has been transformational at many levels of my life. Through their Integral Coaching® training, I have come to understand what “being human” means.
— John Smith
Senior Executive and Professional Coach
Integral Coaching Canada provides what we believe is the most complete and comprehensive coaching program available.
— Ken Wilber
author, A Theory of Everything

It’s That Time of Year

By Laura Divine

It’s that time of year when a significant number of long standing traditions occur such as Christmas, Hanukkah, Winter Solstice. A time of year when our unique histories of experience shape these few weeks. Many of us have distinct traditions we have a connection with, others don’t have any at all and some are trying to create brand new rituals.

What awakens in you as specific dates get close? When family and work gatherings are being planned? When the activities unique to this time begin and when you experience the familiar sights, smells and sounds of this time of year?

We work with hundreds of people in our coaching courses every year. And if there is one thing that is consistent across all of us, it is that this time of year can be complicated. Some families are close. Some families are distant, by miles, if not by preference. Some people are alone during this season. Some people are surrounded by loved ones. For many folks we know, getting together with family is fraught with, “Who is talking to whom? Who sits next to the crazy uncle? Who is going to drink too much or speak too loudly or not say anything at all?” For others, it is a time of deep joy and connection, hugs and time spent with people you love. Some people gather with blood families or chosen families. And some will settle into the season with solitude, a good book and a Netflix series. Such a mixture of experiences!

For Joanne and me, the roots of our traditions for this time of year come from the celebration of Christmas. As soon as December 1st rolls in, Joanne is ready to start decorating the house and she starts playing Christmas music of all kinds. And for me, while I love the warmth of our Christmas house that emerges, I feel a mix of joy and a deep ache of grief. Deep contentment for the present moment with Joanne, while grief arises at the ending of long-past traditions that I had always held so dear, as well as the anniversary of deaths of family members. My greatest challenge at this time of year is to not close my heart in order to minimize the grief. Shutting down may dull this ache I feel, but it also closes me from anything else that is also arising right now.

So, as I entered this month of December, I found myself seeking a way of being in the holidays where I don’t just shut down and get through it and the following question arose: “How can I find a way to have this year’s experience of the holiday season nourish me deeply?” This question totally surprised me, as it is not my natural inclination.  For those of you familiar with some of the lenses we use in our Integral Coaching® Method, I’m a LL-orienting, Enneagram 9, which means I naturally orient to others needs and tend to lose touch with my own.  Not this year!  This year I am leaning into my own tender heart and asking, “How can I be nourished?"

The answer that arose in me were the following words: Heart Connection to Me. What these words came to mean to me was to sustain a connection to my heart, to discern the words, actions, focus of engagement, and ways of relating to situations that are true to my heart in a way that would nourish me.

So what does this actually mean? And not mean?

I am not suggesting that I, or you, should simply have an undiscerning open heart that is blindly open to anything, anyone, any situation. Nor am I suggesting that we should come across to everyone with an overflowing heart, as that may not be something they’re open to or that would be good for us! Rather, I am suggesting keeping my heart open to me is to be open to what I am feeling and open to noticing the moments that bring me joy, peace, laughter, love and enjoyment. Moments like…

Wow, these mashed potatoes and gravy at family dinner are to die for. I will delight in every bite. Oh, what a sweet conversation with my nephew and nieces. I love them so. How magical is the snowfall this Christmas morning! I think I will sit and watch the snow. The Christmas carol, O Holy Night, cracks my heart wide open every time.

Also, and just as importantly, by keeping a Heart Connection to Me, I am able to know what to let pass, let go of, steer clear of, or keep to a minimum with more ease. This discernment is so critical for well-being. 

I am finding that this new move, of keeping a Heart Connection to Me through this complex and poignant time of the year is enabling me to have words like this describe my experiences: simpler, easier, more spacious, and peaceful. Am I saying that it is all sweet, lovely and peaceful? Hell, no. There are dark moments for sure! And that is fine too. They will accompany me forever. But they feel different. They feel like true moments that I can fully experience rather than a blanket that falls over this whole season.

Do you find that this time of year is a complex one for you too? Maybe when you feel a pull to close down to just get through some event or interaction, you could check out a similar approach that keeps you connected deeply to you. Whether it is a time of year when you are alone, or a time when you are fully immersed in social gatherings, this practice of sustaining a Heart Connection with You may be what you need so that you don’t miss the moments of this season.  

We here at ICC send you all our love. From our homes to yours...May you find a million different ways to nourish and honour your tender heart this season. 


© 2019 Laura Divine

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