Life coaching is a concept which I’ve had on the back burner for many years. But it wasn’t until two male friends mentioned Caroline Mann, a coach based near Tisbury that I decided to take the plunge. Both friends had visited Caroline after hitting challenging patches in their careers – both described the coaching experience as profound and life-changing. What’s not to like about that? My own difficulty – on the surface anyway - was that I have been writing but never finishing a book for a sobering number of years. I thought some kind of self-sabotage was at the root of it and told Caroline this on the phone. ‘Almost certainly,’ she said, in a cheerful, matter of fact way that made me rather look forward to my appointment. Cleary nothing was going to shock her. In the flesh Caroline is a warm, instantly likeable person. She specialises in Neuro Linguistic Programming, a kind of therapy which harnesses the power of positive thought. I started talking to Caroline about my problems with writing, she asked me a few gently probing questions and soon I was talking about a bereavement I suffered at 21 which knocked me sideways and that I had never properly dealt with. Unresolved grief, Caroline called it. She explained that she could help me to release it but I would have to come back for a session of something called Life Alignment. And so now really this becomes a story about something else because although the personal coaching session was helpful I realised that my issues would never be fully resolved until I faced up to that buried trauma from all those years ago. Which is how I found myself lying on a bed, two weeks later revisiting memories so painful I’ve blocked them for more than 20 years. If you’re anything like me, you’ll need to take a leap of faith to understand Life Alignment. It’s a process which identifies and heals energy blockages to restore balance in the mind and body. The theories are scientific and it combines the use of kinesiology, dowsing and Caroline, says, ‘a little bit of magic.’ If you had told me beforehand the things that I would say and do that morning I would have run a mile or at least taken another 20 years to get through the door. But with Caroline’s calming presence it felt like a place of safety where I could face anything. Through the kinesiology Caroline identified my thyroid and stomach as the places where I was physically imbalanced, even naming yeast fungus, the allergy I’ve suffered from for 20 years. There were more tests and then she came up with a year – the one when my mother’s terminal illness was diagnosed – and 3 words selected from more than 2000 which I found to be extraordinarily revealing. With Caroline’s help I used these words to piece together a story which gave me real insight into my behaviour and self – none of it rocket science yet somehow it’s not always easy to recognise your own truth. I found this process incredibly intense and meaningful, a bit like speed therapy. Then it was time to revisit those painful memories and though I cried for an hour, it was actually a relief to finally allow myself to go back there.
When Caroline described life alignment to me she said she would take the trauma away from the memory. There is a scientific explanation for this identified by the biologist Bruce Lipton who discovered that cellular memory holds patterns and then repeats them. In layman's terms this means your cells recognise a trauma and go into a spasm each time the memories come around again.
Driving home after what I can only describe as one of the most powerfully affecting two hours of my life, I tried to revisit those memories I'd been so scared of. And the strange thing was the pain wasn’t there any more, just the memory, just like Caroline had said.
NLP coaching and life alignment can work for all kinds of issues - from challenges at work and unrealised ambitions to past emotional traumas. You leave the session with a daily exercise to practise - a combination of deep breathing and positive visualisation which is surprisingly effective.
Only time will tell if my novel will ever get THE END stamped across the last page. But in the meantime I feel unusually calm, as though a layer of tension has been stripped away. And it's a nice place to be.
Contact Caroline Mann here