Heart hugs are the hugs where you are as close as humanly possible to another person and are enveloped in their arms. It is the most vulnerable and yet secure hug. I call them heart hugs because when I give a heart hug I try to get as close to the other person’s heart as possible, almost imagining 2 halves becoming whole and our heart rhythms synchronizing.
Coupled with a heart hug I slow my breathing right down. Slow, deep diaphramatic breathing has been shown scientifically to reduce stress and calm the nervous system down in healthy humans (Russo, MA, et al., 2017). It also builds deep connection, especially if the person receiving the hug is overwhelmed.
Hugs have been a part of my life, from my upbringing as a child into adolesence and adulthood. It is how I feel, and express, love and care for another human. With the coaching work I have done for my own personal development, the depth and openness of my heart has grown exponentially bigger. When I work on something truly personal, deep and resonant it feels like my heart becomes a little fuller and a little softer. It is warm and safe, yet alive and ready for anything.
How does this fit into coaching?
This fits into coaching because the feelings I describe above of closeness and support are the feelings that I aim to create between my clients and I. I do a lot of Trauma-Informed Process Coaching work with my clients and it requires a level of vulnerability that can be very intimidating and triggering for them.
Disclaimer, sometimes this can be so triggering for clients that therapy is the most appropriate treatment for a client. Where that is the case I work with them to find a therapist if they do not already have one or know one. As it stands, the majority of my clients have either had therapy in the past or are in therapy currently. The combination of coaching and therapy is incredibly powerful.
To create resonance and that safety to explore deep emotions requires a lot of enquiry into a clients boundaries, exploring how they feel safe when they are triggered, and offering an invitation into what is possible when we explore those boundaries.
Triggering is that feeling of wanting to run away and hide, or fight. Otherwise known as the fight/flight response, or sympathetic nervous system. What is fundamental about this response is how we respond is unique to all of us and is a culmination of all of our past triggering experiences right back into our earliest life experiences, including pre-conscious memory. This is where coaching and therapy share ground because personally I cannot affectively Process Coach with a client without exploring how they respond to triggers, which come in all shapes, sizes and forms.
This is especially true when working with clients who are looking to make big life changes but find they are constantly giving up or feel helpless as they try to make the changes. Saboteurs feed triggers so also become part of the conversation. With the conversation about what triggers a client comes the opposite end of what supports them. That can lead to a whole labrynth of discovery especially if they have never felt supported in their lives before.
What is possible when you lean into heart hugs?
In my honest opinion, anything is possible. If you can practice showing up with vulnerably it not only opens up the opportunity for transformation coaching but also spills into the rest of your life. Life Coaching is a commitment to elevate your life to the levels which far surpass the limiting beliefs you consciously and subconsciously allow to determine how high or how far you are prepared to go to realise your dreams.
I can safely say from my own experience of working with my own coach there is not a single area of my life that has not been touched by the work I have done. I have laughed, cried, danced, screamed, gotten angry, wept, ached with unimaginable pain, and celebrated at a depth never experienced before, all from the work I have done with my own coach and having the accountability that goes with coaching.
The best gift of all is that by exploring the deepest, darkest depths of my pain and sadness I have been able to feel love, intimacy and connection in ways I could only imagine or dream about before. And for me it all comes back to that feeling of safety and connection between my coach and I, which I describe as a heart hug – I know I am safe to feel all the feels and my coach will not bolt and run on me. She also has her own coach and does her own work to be able to do this with me, that is the cyclical nature of coaching.
If what you have read above has resonated with you and you are longing to find out more, get in touch. I create a safe, judgement-free and open environment, and welcome all who are curious to come in. No sales pitches, just open invitations.
Sending a big hug from my heart to your heart.
Russo, MA et al., (2017) The physiological effects of slow breathing in the healthy human, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5709795/ [Accessed 5/13/2020].