What Does a Thinking Environment Session Look Like?

A thinking session is deceptively simple.You will arrive – either in person or online – we’ll discuss what you’re wanting to explore so I have a sense of where you’re wanting to go and we’ll begin.

There’s significant research that demonstrates how the human mind is ignited by a question.

I will ask you what you want to think about and what your thoughts are, and then the space is completely yours; to express out loud what you’re thinking, or not to express at all and simply think.

You will not be interrupted.

You may find yourself thinking thoughts you have not had before. Because you now have the luxury of uninterrupted time to think, you may find yourself going down thought-pathways you have never had the chance to wander down before. You will be able to both wonder and wander.

You may have new thoughts, new insights, new realisations, new solutions to what you initially considered to be unsolvable problems.

You may also feel different emotions. The Thinking environment welcomes all feelings and emotions.

If remaining time in the session allows, you may want to explore further. The TE is designed for this. There are specific questions I will ask that will reveal underlying false assumptions you are living as true that may be blocking flow and progress in life.

We will then together formulate a more liberating and true assumption to replace the false assumption.

But why can't I just sit on my sofa and think by myself?

The truth is we are relational beings.

When we enter into the Thinking Environment (TE) space, we enter a contained process that strongly supports and encourages the client to call on their own inner authority at all times. It’s the client who chooses their own direction, makes micro-decisions about which way to go in their thinking whilst walking their own unique path created by themselves.

The work of the TE practitioner is to quietly ensure the client’s sovereignty remains intact.

Instead of interruption and response, the client will be receiving something else instead and they will learn to receive this with ease. It’s something that’s rare and in scarce supply, in fact there’s a worldwide shortage:

the client will be receiving the coach’s undivided, generative attention.

With this information, the client may be led to understand that because we are relational beings, the unwavering quality of the TE coach’s attention has the power to help generate the client’s most potent and courageous thinking. It is through being in the presence of an interested human being who is holding a space for your creative thinking process, that one’s thinking is freed and given the possibility to soar to places never before visited.

What is generative attention?

Generative attention from the Thinking Environment (ET) coach can transmit a sense of alert, interested yet calm safety, as well as an absence of all urgency, and therefore ease to the client.

This is the work of mirror neurons which are activated in an empathic process of ‘emotional contagion’. The client can be made aware of this process happening if there’s a need to understand the ‘point’ of why a coach is necessary, even though they don’t appear to ‘participate’ in the usual way.

A Thinking Environment where generative attention is taking place, has the power to accelerate connections
and leaps in the client’s thinking.

Because we are relational beings, the unwavering quality of the TE coach’s attention, has the power to help generate the client’s most potent and courageous thinking. It is through being in the presence of an interested human being who is holding a space for your creative thinking process, that one’s thinking is freed and given the possibility to soar to places never before visited.

What kind of results can I expect from a Thinking Environment session?

You are very likely to experience a shift: in your thinking, your inner posture, your sense of yourself. Results from a Thinking Environment session are not only cognitively understood, but also experientially felt. In my own experience of many sessions where I have been the thinker, I have always been struck by the viscerally-felt nature of arrival at a new place to think from.

Oddly, despite the fact that thinking and speaking words are intrinsic to the practice, words cannot do justice to the feeling-experience of arriving at an expanded awareness.

It’s as if new neurological pathways have been freshly activated and awareness stretched to hold a brand new thought.

It’s that inner stretch that is felt in the body as a sensation of ‘wow!’ and then looking around with interest at the new place one has arrived at.

What are the 10 components of the Thinking Environment?

  1. Attention – when the Thinking Environment coach pays the thinker generative attention, it’s the key component in allowing for greater flow of thought and feeling.
  2. Appreciation – change takes place best in a larger context of genuine praise, affirmation and appreciation for the client
  3. Difference – being interested in cultural, individual and group identity differences, as well as differences in ways of being, thinking and feeling.
  4. Equality – there is no power differential or hierarchy between us, we are equals as thinkers together
  5. Ease – being at ease creates comfort and relaxation. Urgency and rush aren’t conducive to thinking well
  6. Encouragement – the thinking environment builds courage to go to the unexplored edge of thinking by championing excellence. From the first moment, the TE practitoner regards the client as fundamentally whole, good and with an innate ability to find his/her own way.
  7. Feelings – the expression of all feelings is welcomed, repressed feelings inhibit thinking well. Allowing feelings of anger, grief, sadness, frustration to surface, helps to think well.
  8. Information – the TE practitoner will provide any accurate and complete information he or she may have, when specifically requested by the client
  9. Incisive Questions - through framing and then asking incisive questions, the opportunity exists to remove limiting assumptions, freeing the mind to think afresh, they are catalytic
  10. Place – the proper preparation (of comfort, pleasing aesthetics, warmth, refreshment etc) of the environment where thinking happens, says ‘you matter’

For more detail on the 10 components go here.

Case Study: I don't deserve goodness

Maryam* arrived at her thinking session feeling anxious. She didn’t know what the source of her anxiety was and spent some time thinking about this and the sensations of tightness, restriction and contraction she was feeling in her body.

As her thinking progressed she realized she was feeling overwhelmed by everything that was going on in her life. She felt there was a lot…

She’d recently joined a painting studio so she could fulfil her lifelong love of painting. She’d just started a new job that was paying her twice as much as she was used to earning and was feeling both excitement and trepidation, wondering if she had the competence to deliver what was expected of her. She was also part of a dance group that was offering free dance classes to under-resourced schools in her area and she loved contributing to her community in this way. And on top of everything else, she’d just moved in with her new boyfriend and they were figuring out how it was all going to work.

Suddenly her eyes filled with tears.

'I’ve just realized something profound,' she said quietly.

'All of these things going on in my life… they’re all GOOD things! I’m actually overwhelmed by how much good is going on in my life… I don’t deserve so much goodness!'

We then explored all the assumptions she was making about having goodness in her life.

What was she assuming that made her anxious about having goodness in her life?

The mantra of her life has always been ’You can’t have everything!’ Having everything is not allowed…

  • ...only Hollywood celebrities can have everything, good looks, wealth, success…
  • ...she feared provoking envy in others if they see how well everything is going for her, especially if things aren’t going so well for them… she felt guilt.
  • ...after all the troubles for years she’d had leaving a difficult marriage (which was against her cultural values)… it felt almost unreal to be experiencing all her dreams coming true; she felt sure she would be punished somehow for her good fortune

We then worked further with the key false assumption she was living as true: that it wasn’t possible to have everything. Maryam was able to replace that assumption in her own words with a more liberating and true assumption that also felt credible to her:

It’s safe for me to have so much goodness in my life.

We then worked with the incisive question:

If you knew that it was safe for you to have
so much goodness in your life, how would that change
your experience of life?

She reported an instant lessening of anxiety, a sense of warmth spreading in her body as well as a sensation of expansion. She added:

'Just saying it in that way, makes me feel it’s ok to have good things happen.'

*Name and some details have been changed; this has been published with Maryam’s full consent