What I'm up to
Aletheia, TRE and coaching
It's February! I've not written anything this year.
Hello to all the new subscribers who arrived during the silence. Perhaps I should shut up more often.
I thought I'd share a little about what I've been doing and what I have planned.
My coaching practice has taken off quicker than I expected, considering the laughable effort I have invested in marketing so far. I've been working with people transitioning into being a founder, those seeking new career directions, those struggling through unexpected transitions, those navigating burnout and plenty of spaces in between. I feel a mix of gratitude and bemusement at the strange leaps and synchronicities that have brought people to my door. (If you’re curious, book a free chat.)
Each new client makes me appreciate my Animas training even more. I love that it stays true to the art of non-directive, non-judgemental dialogue, without grasping at any tools, without trying to run in and fix things. Instead, returning again and again to this raw encounter and following the unknown wherever it leads.
This increasingly seems to me to be the bedrock of coaching and it is beautiful and powerful. It never gets old and never fails to surprise. Tools have their place but from where I'm standing the transformation always flowers from something more fundamental. And the recognition, seen again and again, of the inner resourcefulness of people when given space to think and feel.
All that said, I have been wondering about other ways of working with the whole person; particularly including the body and emotions more explicitly. I’ve signed up for the next cohort of Aletheia training. Steve March is doing some fantastic work, bringing together parts work (think IFS), somatic awareness, breathwork, non-dual traditions and much more into a system of next-generation coaching. This diversity of inquiry allows someone to move from the level of parts, to process, to presence, to a depth where the sense of separation might even be seen through. I find this fluidity and confidence in the depths to be a welcome remedy to the fixations of other modalities.
Aletheia pursues self-unfoldment over self-improvement, an idea that seems to resonate widely at the moment. It seems clear to me that self-development and spirituality often become yet more means of self-improvement, more things to do, more things to fix. Self-unfoldment means recognising an existing wholeness in the person and working from that place. Instead of dancing with deficiency, it operates from a very different understanding of who and what we are.
I think I first heard of Steve March via John Vervaeke, who is very excited that Steve has systemised what he coined an "ecology of practices." I am also excited to be able to support people in exploring that wider ecology, whether to unfold in work, life or spirituality.
Whilst working with a client recently, we reflected that burnout often brings you back to the body, but that when the body starts talking, it might not shut up. Burnout recovery isn’t “back to where you started”—you might start hearing things that haven’t sung inside you for decades.
This is how it’s been for me. In November, the next person to change my life unexpectedly was Jason. He emailed me a video of someone talking about TRE and the tension in long-term meditators. The video talked about how meditators can become stuck in freeze responses, holding tension and maintaining reactivity, even through the deeper stages of realisation.
This led me to Trauma Releasing Exercises (TRE), a set of exercises that trigger the tremor reflex, allowing the body to release tension through shaking. If you are a mammal—and I’d be amazed if you’re not, reader—this means of release is built into your body. It's the same reflex that you see in children and animals that have experienced stress. Unfortunately, if you’re an adult human mammal, you’ve likely learned to suppress it.
TRE rang bells for me because I'd already been shaking in meditation for many years. It's not uncommon among people who meditate long-term. I'd become quite used to the tremoring and just let it do its thing.
Finding a modality that understood and facilitated this response was very exciting. It explained tremoring in its context as a vital means of restoration, from even the most intense traumas. Your body has the potential to accumulate stress and trauma. If it didn't also have a means of releasing it, we'd never have gotten this far.
I started doing TRE at home and a lot came up very quickly. The tremoring was also quite intense, not the usual leg wobbling you see in the videos, but full body convulsions and vocalisations. I started doing some longer, supervised sessions with a trained practitioner and we went further into some deeper territory.
It's amazing what comes up when you just let the body shake. The organic unfolding of the process continues to amaze me. There is no talk required, no thinking particular thoughts, no "understanding" as we often think of it.
I will write plenty more on my experience of TRE soon, but for now I can say it's the most powerful transformative practice I've been introduced to since I first found meditation. I don’t know if it will have that kind of impact on everyone: I happen to be very kinaesthetically oriented.
What I've noticed so far is that my reactivity has dropped in a way that meditation was unable to untangle; long-standing tension around my jaw, throat and shoulders has loosened; a sense of some dissociation releasing and an immediacy with the body that I didn't know I was missing until it returned. It also just feels like a powerful reset and release when I practice. I should be clear that not all of this has been easy to experience and a lot can come up for someone: guilt, sadness, pain, traumatic memories and anything in between. Tread carefully. Get support if you think it would help you.
Besides the personal impact, starting in June, I’ll be training as a TRE practitioner. The method is accessible and powerful, and it's something I'd love to share with a lot more people. When the training is done, I'll be able to teach and facilitate sessions with individuals and groups. Including bodywork alongside coaching has been a long-term goal so I’m excited to be able to offer both, depending on which direction someone wants to head.
I’m sure TRE has played a part in releasing the dissociation, pain and anger that comes with burnout. I feel in a better place than ever. Alongside the coaching, I also do some consultancy work. I still have to manage the balance carefully and a busy day can wipe me out. But I cannot express what a joy it is to regain control of my calendar and scale things up as I feel able. I feel so grateful to do this work; to feel flush with energy, inspiration, strength and stillness. I think back to a year ago and... wow.
On the writing front, I have a lot of ideas about what comes next. How I think about writing changed a lot over the last 2 months and it feels like a considerable burden has been lifted. That's partly why I've been quieter than usual.
I've been enjoying the relief of dropping another identity: "the writer." It turns out the identity is surplus: all you need to do is write.
Stay tuned for more of the writing.