This book without question is truly a Magnum Opus. With what seems to be a plethora of coaches popping up on Linkedin in and Twitter every day, I think this book over time will be seen as the sourcebook for what does and does not define someone as a “coach.”
In profound and direct sentences, the author leads the reader on a journey into the realm of Somatic Awakening. Strozzi-Heckler writes, “In Somatic Coaching the first principle is to feel. When we feel we find ourselves aroused; we are transported to a more amplified level of aliveness…We find ourselves in new conversations and responsive urges that previously didn’t seem to exist.”
This takes “coaching” to a whole new level, one where it is about more than problem solving, or searching for a quick solution. It is about a journey into the depths of what it means to be fully human, to explore the full dimensionality within our selves of what Martin Buber would term, the “I and Thou.”
The author continues, “Those who come to Somatic Awareness in this way are encouraged to deepen into the sensations and the felt sense of their life; to listen to what is being called forth from the deeper waters.” And it is in these “deeper waters” that the quickening exists.
The author once shared a story from his own life with a group of us. He was invited to a conference of what was billed the “top” coaches in North America. There were fifty who were invited and attended. He reported in his narrative to us that he was amazed that none of these so-called “coaches” had a spiritual or meditative practice of any kind. None. I remember sitting there and thinking, “What? Is that really possible?”
Some time later, I attended a meeting of “coaches.” A friend invited me to the meeting. Those present shared their philosophies of coaching, which mostly seemed to be about solving the client’s problem externally without addressing the person. And then of course writing up the invoice and getting the check!
Strozzi-Heckler writes, “The nature of our life energy, however, is to circulate in an unbroken cycle of forming and re forming; it’s life impulse to continuously move through the cycles of birth, growth, fruition, completing, and renewal.” He then continues, hitting the nail on the head, “Our institutions have failed to educate us in how we can learn about ourselves, about nature, about the generativity of conflict, and about the cosmos through our bodies.” [Italics mine]
And here’s the kicker: “This physical, somatic, cosmic energy moves toward increasing life to sustain more life. The culture moves to bind this energy, to sustain society in the status quo. This is at odds with how we can collectively build community, how we can work through differences and face in the same direction to create something new and life affirming.” [Italics mine]
Strozzi-Heckler observes, “The first step is to notice it.”
More on this remarkable book will follow in future columns soon.
A side note: One reader from Switzerland contacted me and indicated she planned to purchase the book after reading my initial review. The way the cosmos flows together, I shouldn’t have been surprised when we ran into each other at a Hilary Hahn concert at the Green Music Center last Sunday. She was visiting family and friends in Northern California. I shouldn’t have been surprised! Really. Isn't that the way it all works?
“The Art of Somatic Coaching – Embodying Skillful Action, Wisdom, and Compassion” by Richard Strozzi-Heckler, North Atlantic Books, Berkeley, CA - US $18.95 – ISBN 978-1-58394-673-2