Marilyn Atkinson Ph.D is the Founder of Erickson Coaching International and originator of the Solution-Focused Coaching methodology. A former Registered Organizational Psychologist, Marilyn is an NLP Master Trainer and specialist in Ericksonian Communications. Since 1980s she has been helping leading global companies and leaders through Solution- Focused and Outcome-Oriented Coaching. Marilyn has co-authored three books in "The Art & Science of Coaching" Trilogy (Inner Dynamics of Coaching, Step-by-Step Coaching & The Flow of Coaching).
Solution-Focused Alchemy: What Produces Happiness?
Perhaps you have heard stories about the Alchemists of the Middle Ages transmuting dross metal into gold? Similar to these tales is the story of the Buddhist monk who is famous because he began a practice of breathing in the faults, mistakes, issues and problems of everyone in the world in the form of black smoke. He would then visualize breathing this out and transmute this into a healing golden light. He taught this practice which he called ‘Tonglen’ to his students.
This famous monk practiced this transmutation all his life. Near the end of his life, he called his students to him and told them with tears in his eyes that he had a dream that he would be reborn in the Buddhist heaven realms. He was very disappointed that he would not be born in a hell realm where he could really assist people and asked his students to pray that he would be reborn in the hell realms where he could help people.
This story has become an anecdote about how surprising peoples' models of the world can be, but it is very telling in terms of how we can relax in life and really develop happiness moment by moment no matter what occurs.
With the solution-focused process as our framework for alchemy, we move beyond all types of contextual disappointment.
Solution-Focused Alchemy means that every "realm" we enter becomes "fine" simply because we actively transmute it to "fine"! This world in all its forms, heaven or hell, becomes a fine place to be!
Notice that every realm in life can either be experienced as a heaven realm or a hell realm. Watch people around you. Some are clearly living in a self-imposed purgatory. Some people live joyfully so that they float lightly through life. Even physical pain touches them lightly. Others get to walk through the quicksand of life with lead boots on. In fact, there are no "realms" out there! Each realm is within us. It is all process. There is no content. We can be transformers anywhere.
Heaven means that we are light breathers; that we choose to actively heal those we connect with through solution-focused words and responses to them. In this way, we give them no power to harm us, no matter what they do. Thus, we cannot find ourselves in the hell realms. We are also, then, Alchemists. Every realm we enter becomes like Gold because we actively transmute it. Solution-Focused practice means we can be active light producers. A light producer is not a fluffy optimist but an active realist producing results through action. A light producer is an active participant, participating fully in the results of people around them.
We can actively forgive others and free ourselves from all kinds of disappointments. How can we be harmed by life, whatever the scenarios we live inside if this is our reality?