Tag Archives: Chogyam trungpa

Heart Space: the magic of synchronicity

“Is it always like this or are we special?” asked one of the participants of the my latest retreat in Crete. I replied: “Both. It is always like this and it is always magical.” In the months leading up to the retreat I was observing the group coming together – some signed up months in advance, others cancelled last minute. Coincidence? Or is it a complex cosmic law that our limited understanding is (yet) unable to grasp?


It has been two weeks since the end of the Joyful Living retreat in the remote village of Sfakia in the South of Crete. I’m still in awe of the perfect synchronicity – perhaps the best term for that complex cosmic law – that brought this group together. So are the participants who are already booking their flights for the reunion in October. One of them, a theatre producer from Zurich, writes: “I’m astonished at how open and warm we were in the group and this very quickly.” “It was a real joy to see how the group evolved into a small family in just the space of a few days!” shares Mouna, an interpreter from Paris.

The swift intimacy created after sometimes only a couple of hours is a marvel to most people attending my workshops and retreats. In my experience, connection and transformation happen when synchronicity enters the scene. Then meaningful coincidences start occurring, such as people find themselves working on a similar life purpose, or bringing an identical inspiring object to the workshop. Or I will intuitively share an experience which is deeply meaningful to one or more participants.


To trust in synchronicity is one of the cornerstones of being a transformational facilitator and coach. My coaching school CTI calls this skill ‘dancing in the moment.’ To surrender control initially feels counterintuitive because as a faclitator you are ‘doing nothing’ but following the flow of a session. Slowly you build trust that whatever is unfolding, is exactly what participants need in that very moment. When I feel I am working hard, I now know something is wrong!

In fact the only thing to ‘do’ as a facilitator is to role model how to interact with an open heart, a sensitive spirit, a curious mind and a flexible body. Thus you give the group permission to enter into a safe space. They respond by sharing the full spectrum of their humanity. It is as if in this ‘heart space’ we can uncover the strength of our vulnerability. We recognise each other’s stories of feeling intensely alive or of sabotaging our wildest dreams. By “taking the lid off ourselves” (‘The Heart of the Buddha‘ by Chogyam Trungpa, p6) we give each other permission to relax, be present, connect with our inner self and leave our unique footprint.


Occassionally I come across a group where the heart space is unstable. This usually indicates that one or more participants has become sceptical and closed their hearts. The crucial thing to do as a facilitator is to stay curious and avoid closing our heart in retaliation. Fear can easily make us defensive or judgemental. Yet when we stay open hearted we invite a participant to express their doubt and neutralise the impact. Mostly this is enough for the air to clear and for synchronicty to work its magic once again. I remain in awe.

Watch this space for my next piece on how flow and synchronicity are related to gut feeling.

How to unlock your potential

This blog is based on the ‘How to unlock your potential’ workshop on Monday 8th September 2014 at Whistling Duck Kitchen & Bar, Chandigarh. If you’re interested in bringing this workshop to where you live, get in touch with Julie (julie@maitreecoaching.com).

“It is as if we were extraordinary children, possessing all sorts of genius, and we were being undermined by the society around us, which was dying to make us normal people. Whenever we would show any mark of genius, our parents would get embarrassed and try to put the lid on. We’ve also been doing this to ourselves. When we see something extraordinary, we are afraid to say so, we are afraid to express ourselves. So we put the lid on our potential, on our capabilities” Chögyam Trungpa

So how do we find and unlock our potential?

It’s about recognising what resonates with us, what gives us fulfilment, the energy that opens us up, lifts up our hearts, creates options, possibilities, flow. When you are fulfilled, you are in your element, make better connections, make things happen naturally, without struggle. This is about identifying your values and bringing them into your life as much as possible. It is about connecting with your inner leader and working towards your life purpose. It is about doing what you love, making time for it and keep doing it until you are really good at it.

In coaching sessions I work with clients to set them off on a path of fulfillment by identifying their values, their inner leader, their life purpose. To be sure, there is always a different energy unlocked when clients start to take this courageous, sometimes radical, path. It is the energy of ‘But what about…’, and then come fears and worries about money, family, risk, finances etc. Our saboteurs come in many guises and they always carry the opposite energy of fulfilment – dissonance. Joy disappears, options vanish and what’s left is a dead party.

It is important to recognise these saboteur voices which are expressions of our self limiting beliefs. They will tell us ‘You’re not good enough,’ ‘What will other people think?’ ‘It’s too late in life,’ ‘Who do you think you are?’ ‘I’ll do it later.’ What are yours? It helps to give them a name – such as the Bitchy One or the Gremlin – and tell them they are not needed now because it is about your bigger self and unlocking your full potential. Accept that they are a part of you and have probably served you by protecting you in the past. Do not give them more energy than they deserve. They are a small part of you, but there is so much more to you than your saboteurs!

“If today was the last day of your life, would you do what you are about to do?” Steve Jobbs

It is only natural that they show up as fulfilment can be a radical act. We have not been trained to risk the unchartered territory of what we really want in life. To rock the boat we need fierce creativity and perseverance which are both rare and yet present in all of us. We can all sing instead of talk, we can all dance instead of walk. When we follow what our heart is telling us, fulfillment becomes about the road, not the destination. It is about the dance because it inspires us and others to create new possibilities which we had never thought of before.

When I took a sabbatical from my corporate job in London to write my second novel and study yoga in India, I never thought my neighbour in Mysore would become my life partner. I never thought that I would go back to Europe to train as a life and executive coach. I definitely never thought that I could build up a vibrant international Skype coaching practice while living in India to set up a retreat with my partner. All I knew was that the first step of fulfilment was to go on a sabbatical.

This does not mean I am happy all the time. It does mean that I know I am living my life based on resonant choices that reflect my core values. Sometimes I forget because it is easy to forget in day-to-day life what we really want, what brings us joy and fulfilment. We forget what we know deep down so we need a support structure to remind us. This is why I have a coach, and this is why coaching is so great. It helps us to stay true to what brings us alive, and to commit to offering our gift to the world. Because the world needs people who have come alive.