Follow along in this new article series exploring the author's experience on the path to becoming a Chopra Well-being Coach.
Read previous articles in the series:
Chopra Coaching: A Pathway for Conscious Living
In each life there comes at least one moment which, if recognized and seized, transforms the course of that life forever. - Ralph Blum, The Book of Runes
In the fall of 2020, I received an email that began with an enticing question: Are you ready to expand your wellness business while helping others activate sustainable and lasting change?
My interest was piqued, and I read on to discover that after several years of development, Chopra Global was launching a new and exciting program – The Chopra Coaching Certification Program. As a current Chopra Educator with certifications in meditation, Ayurveda, and mind-body wellness, I had direct experience of the high-quality teaching that Chopra offered. And while I wasn’t entirely sure what Well-being Coaching was, by the time I finished reading the email, I knew I wanted to be one. Deep within, my intuition told me that this would be something special and I leapt at the opportunity to join the inaugural class of Chopra Coaches.
The first portion of the certification course, the Chopra Coaching Enrichment Program, wouldn’t begin for several months, so while I was very excited, the turmoil of 2020 kept me somewhat preoccupied. However, as time passed, I found myself looking more and more forward to the start of the course. Each of my previous certifications were a powerful opportunity to connect with a group of like-minded individuals who resonated a collective consciousness of learning, transformation, purpose, compassion, and love – qualities the previous year had nearly stretched to the breaking point.
At long last, the launch of the first Enrichment Program began on May 11, 2021, with an online introductory webinar. I eagerly logged in to see roughly 76 smiling faces, many of which were familiar – fellow instructors joining me on this path, mentor coaches who had helped in the development and testing of the program curriculum, and of course the ever-supportive Chopra Certification Team. The webinar was led by the Chopra Coaching program’s developer, director, and lead educator, Pete Kirchmer. Pete is a highly experienced and qualified coach mentor who blends a deep passion for Chopra teachings, personal transformation, and coaching psychology.
After the welcomes and introduction, we learned that this more advanced training was the result of requests by Chopra instructors and had been in development for many years. In many ways, we were all co-conspirators in the manifestation of the program. The webinar proceeded with a group meditation. As I was soon to discover, the Chopra Coaching model is rooted in mindful awareness, making meditation not simply a component of the model, but the very container that holds all the other coaching tools and practices. We continued to learn that the enrichment program was a participatory structure in which we would practice our new coaching skills in virtual breakout rooms with other coaches.
Finally, we were introduced to the new Chopra virtual education platform from which all our training would take place. Each week for the next five weeks, new course content would be released, consisting of self-directed E-learning sessions and instructor-led webinars. When the webinar came to an end, I was albeit, a little intimidated, but at the same time very excited to begin my coaching journey.
Diving In Headfirst
As a new Chopra Well-being Coach in training, I was eager to begin my training. The introduction webinar got me revved up for new possibilities and with notebook in hand, I began the first E-Learning Session on becoming a Chopra Well-being Coach. Since my previous Chopra certifications had all taken place in person, I was unsure what to expect from the new education platform, however, I was quickly drawn in by the ease and intuitive design of the online learning environment. The structured lessons, videos, reflection questions, and PDF downloads were the perfect blend of information and activity to keep me engaged.
The first session was an ideal launchpad for the weekly content that would follow in that it provided a solid framework of what coaching is; different mentor types; what differentiates the Chopra Coaching model from other styles of coaching; and preparing the learner for an all-important step leading toward certification – getting a practice client.
In addition, in the first session, Pete helped allay my occasional doubts and bouts of imposter syndrome in which I would ask myself, “Who am I to coach someone?” He reminded us all that as instructors, we have all been on a hero’s journey to get to this point. We weren’t here by accident and becoming a coach wasn’t just a profession, but our dharma, and a spiritual path. As beginner coaches, he said the most important thing we could do at this point was to commit to the process, an ideal embodied in a quote he shared by William Hutchison Murray:
The moment one definitely commits oneself, then providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred.
The lesson concluded with the reminder that the enrichment program was a supportive environment and that Pete, the Certification Team, and our mentor coaches all had our backs. Hearing this, I knew I had made the right choice.
Exploring the Coach’s Toolbox
The remaining weekly sessions of the enrichment program were largely focused on the specific tools in the coach’s toolbox. These elements are the skills a coach relies on in every session and need to be thoroughly understood as well as practiced to be made functional. In each session, we took a deep dive into specific tools and explored how they related to the coaching process.
Coaching Presence is the space in which the coaching conversation takes place. I learned that the most important gift a coach can give their client is their presence. During the coaching process, holding space truly becomes an art form in which we meet the client with our full presence in each moment. As Chopra Coaches, we also enhance our presence by deeply understanding our own doshic nature. For example, as a Vata mind-body type, I recognized that to be fully present for my clients I may need to take extra steps to ground myself and settle my energy prior to a session.
Coaching presence also embodies the concept of qualia, or the direct subjective experience known through our senses. Tuning into the qualia of a coaching session allows us to deepen our presence with our client.
Relationship is the agreement between the coach and client for the coaching process. In creating the coaching relationship, we seek to understand expectations, accountability, and what works for the client’s needs. A healthy coaching relationship is essential to establish and maintain boundaries and help the client feel safe and supported at all times. This relationship is built upon 4 key truths:
- Clients are the experts in their own lives
- The client’s true self is already whole and complete
- The past is unchangeable; the present and future are the space of infinite potential
- The coach and client are part of an equal partnership
Listening is incredibly important to the coaching process and cannot be underestimated as a profound tool for transformation. We learned that so often our clients just need to be heard, and in hearing them and acknowledging their experience we often open the door for their transformation. Recently, one of my mentor coaches said that we should “Listen like a rock with ears.” This simple and powerful image helps convey how we should approach the mindful listening we leverage with our clients.
Powerful Questions are the way in which the coach helps the client get to the heart (or qualia) of the conversation. Thought-provoking and open-ended questions help to cultivate introspection within the client’s awareness, from where transformation can arise. In this lesson, I discovered that curiosity is a coach’s superpower that can lead to client breakthroughs. Questions are an invitation for the client to know themselves deeper and they help a coach to skillfully explore the client’s inner world.
Soul Reflection is the way in which we, as coaches become a mirror for our clients. Reflection embodies the spirit of the Sanskrit greeting Namaste, in which we acknowledge that the divine in others is the same as the divine within ourselves. Soul reflections consist of:
- Paraphrasing and simplifying what the client says
- Offering alternative perspectives
- Sharing the impact of their words
- Offering acknowledgment
- Showing empathy
- Offering a metaphor
As we offer reflections to our client, we also learn to avoid projecting our subconscious thoughts and opinions onto our client’s experience, recognizing that only a clean mirror reflects things as they really are.
Conclusion and Preparing for Certification
The final lessons of the Coaching Enrichment Program focused on our next steps as future coaches – the Chopra Coaching Certification Program itself. We learned how to go about selecting our practice clients, set up our consultation and intake sessions, structure a basic coaching session, and hone the skills we had learned so far in a bonus practice coaching webinar.
However, amidst all this preparation, Pete reminded us that this was also a time for reflection and celebration. Having come to the end of the enrichment program, we had a new perspective on what it meant to be a Chopra Well-being Coach. It had been an extremely fulfilling five weeks of learning and growth and I felt both excited and fulfilled about the progress I had made.
Looking forward to the next step in my journey, I knew I was where I was meant to be.