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Shine on mural. Dana Mitra is a faculty coach, career, coach, and leadership coach. She specializes in coaching academics, women leaders, and professionals making career changes. She coaches on purpose, balance and productivity.Dana Mitra is a member of the International Coaching Federation.

Slowing Down.

Every year I spend a week in the woods. I live in a tent and I cook for my children’s summer camp. I unplug from my technology and steep myself in a much camp magic as possible.

I especially the singing at the fire circles. This song spoke right to me this year, sung over and over in a round:

Humble yourself in the arm of the wild
You’ve got to lay down low and… [repeat]

And we will lift each other up.
Higher and higher.
We will lift each other up.

Camp offers me the gift of slowing down. Noticing a bug walking across the roof of my tent. Sampling the blackberries along the trail. Staring into a fire.

The slower I get, the more I know. The more wisdom seeps up into me. The more grounded I am. The greater I am in touch with my truth. My intuition. The part of knowing that comes from deep within my belly and tells my monkey mind to hush up and surrender. To “be still and know.”

I’m back I’m the frenetic life of the day to day. But I keep trying to hum that melody and remember to notice. To wonder. To be thankful. And to get still and to listen deep within myself.

Ready for transformation? Contact dana@coachingbydana.com


woman stretching arms.

Self Care Means Reset to Gain Perspective

When they go low, I go high. As high as I can, in fact—climbing the steepest mountain ridge I can with my faithful dog.

When life feels like it has taken control of me, I am at my healthiest when I take a hike. Breathing deeply and pulling away from the buzz of life below clears my head. It helps me to pan out from the close-up view of problems that causes me to feel helpless, angry at others, and full of funk. Being up high in the fresh air, I can get a wide-lens view and gain perspective again. I am present, grateful and full of peace.

How do you reset when life starts controlling you?

The funny thing about resets is how much we resist them. It can be so hard for me to get out the door to take that hike, even though I know that I will be filled with joy if I do. Permission is needed for self-care. We have to remember that self-care is not selfish—it allows you to be able to ride the waves of family members who push your buttons, of judgment, worry, and doubt. Doing just one more thing on the to-do list won’t give you peace like a reset will.

My holiday wish for all of you is to know your reset button. And use it. Lots and lots of times if needed.

Holding Space

Holding space is different than listening, and a powerful tool for relationships and leadership.

When trying to problem solve, fix or give answers. Supporting people making change includes stepping aside to allow people to make their own choices. Coaches and therapists–and parent– hold space when doing their jobs well.

I think of the metaphor of dialing a camera lens from close up to wide angle when holding space. It involves what we call “level three” listening in the coaching world—not only hearing words spoken, but also picking up on the energy surrounding a situation.

Holding space includes pulling one lens back to see the bigger picture with kindness and grace. It involves sending positive energy with an intention—perhaps focusing on light, love, peace. Heather Plett (http://upliftconnect.com/hold-space/) describes the process as walking alongside others without judgement. It involves opening our hearts and viewing the space with a softer lens.

The more emotion involved in a situation and the more I form an opinion of “right and wrong,” the harder it is to hold space. In emotionally challenging situations, holding space requires discipline and an ongoing focus on the bigger picture. It also requires self care and discipline regarding one’s own emotions.

I have asked of friends and loved ones to hold space for me, even if I didn’t have the vocabulary to do so. When I am in a space where I am experiencing a conflict with someone, knowing that a friend or family member is sending energy my way makes a difference. And I admit, when I ask that of friends, and they cannot do so, I struggle with that friendship.

I wonder how I could work on hold space in more parts of my life—learning how to flex this muscle. With my children. In line at the grocery store. At work meetings.. Starting in easier spaces without emotional pull is great practice space so that we can learn how to hold space even in the difficult times.

girl lighting candles in notre dame in paris.

Granule-sized Gratitudes

With the Thanksgiving holiday approaching, the idea of developing a gratitude practice is worth considering. The concept is to keep a log of 5 or so moments of gratitude from your day. This focus on the positive and affirming the good can help to rewire our brains to look for the joy in our lives and to expand it.

The first time I tried a gratitude practice, I failed gloriously. I told my coach, “Yeah, yeah, yeah. Every night I write down that I appreciate my kids, my husband, my job, our home. I just don’t get it. It’s not working for me.”

My coach replied, “First of all, I call bullshit that those are the things you really were grateful for today. What if you were actually grateful when the door shut and you had a moment’s solitude? Would you put that down if it were true?”

Oh. Right.

We need to be honest about our gratitude. What really did give us joy that day, without shame or doubt about it.

Gratitude also works best when they are very small grained. When we can pull our senses into the practice. The foam on our cup of cappuccino. The warmth of an embrace. The glorious red and yellow of the leaves of the trees. The warmth in our heart when a stranger said thank you.

You know you’ve hit the gratitude jackpot when your list still has resonance as you write them down the second time. You can feel the sip of coffee, feel the emotion in your body from the thank you. It’s like getting a second emotional hit of joy and appreciation from those moments all over again. And then those feelings can expand and grow as you practice noticing them.

That’s the joy of gratitude. Mindful appreciation of the abundance of life.

Looking for greater abundance in your life? Contact me for a free coaching session to see what it feels like to make time for the growth you have been desiring dana@danamitra.net