As a coach, you may be struggling with feelings of hopelessness, helplessness, and meaninglessness while watching Russian forces invade Ukraine. You are not alone, you are not dysfunctional, and you are not as powerless as you might imagine.

As a fellow coach, my heart is breaking too. My college roommate and dear friend of over 30 years lived in Ukraine, and still has close friends who live there. I have a client from Russia, now living in the US, who still has family in Russia. I am 1-degree of separation from people in harm’s way. I am affected.

I have decided to do what I can from where I am and with what I have available. That is to say: I’m using my coaching skills to add value to the world. Also, I’m putting my years of psychiatric training, clinical experience, religious study, and spiritual practice to work.

The coaching group follows a framework of the ritual of lamentation, which is integrated with mindfulness practices, polyvagal theory, and other coaching tools to process and integrate the intense emotions evoked by the brutality and deep uncertainty rippling out from Ukraine. Everyone leaves with at least one concrete action they can take to make a difference, no matter how small.

Ritual provides space for expression of difficult and overwhelming emotion, and at the same time provides a safe container for transformation of those emotions into effective action.

Coaching helps people connect to their own inner wholeness and resources, so they can bring their
unique gifts to the world.

We riff on images from the Hebrew bible. One image is drawn from Bereishit, or Geneisis, of God hovering over chaos like a mother bird, gently coaxing a beautiful creation from its depths by means of generative speech rather than violence. The other image is of us—mere mortals—as builders of godliness rather than children of God. Through every thought, word, and deed we are builders of the world.

It has been a rich opportunity to cleanse the overwhelm, root in the positive, and bring our best selves to a world that desperately needs mindfulness and loving-kindness. I hope you find your own way to add your healing presence to a world in deep need of healing.

S. Yael Dennis

MD, PhD, ACC pending