Cushion Wisdom

Mar 2, 2022

Journey of 1,000 Hugs

“Can you promise I will come back?” says Bilbo.
“No, but if you do, you will not be the same,” replies Gandolf.

In the beginning I enjoyed our small quarantine pod of four. Each Saturday late afternoon we came together for a gourmet meal, Star Trek Catan and a robust conversation. It was the only in-person social event of the week for almost 1.5 years.

The weekdays kept us working in our home offices coaching, teaching and running Mindfulness Coaching School virtually.

This flexible coaching lifestyle kept us safe and worked well. As a learned extrovert, I relish opportunities to be a full-on introvert with my books, research, writings and music. And yet even though the pandemic offered much inner growth and reflection, it also offered outer growth to the tune of 20 extra Pandemic Pounds.

Through coaching I became aware food was replacing in-person hugs. Once I realized it was hugs I was jones-ing for and not food, I asked myself daily on the meditation cushion, “How can I get my hugging needs met?”

I sat and listened to what arose

At first my Monkey Mind with its’ chaos and my Inner Critic with its’ Fixed Mindset kept interfering. Yet both fell away when I approached the specific agenda of getting my hugging needs met. With focus, presence and a Beginner’s Mind, I learned to cultivate mental plasticity with an Infinite Mindset.

Following the breadcrumbs

Sitting on my meditation cushion one morning at 4am an image arose. I saw myself traveling on open roads in North America and hugging students, faculty and clients along the way! This is how The Journey of 1,000 Hugs began to take form.

Similarly, seven years earlier in 2015, Mindfulness Coaching School manifested. It’s why I often call meditation and my blog, Cushion Wisdom. I hadn’t planned on creating a school, and yet I followed the breadcrumbs that arose during meditation and mindfulness practices. One coaching class became 18 coaching classes just like one hug becomes The Journey of a 1,000 Hugs.

Hugs in times of war

May 14, 2018, I witnessed Ukrainians and Russians laughing together. I know they would have hugged if we hadn’t been in a webinar. It was the opening day of the ICF International Coaching Week. I gave a presentation to both ICF chapters organized by two coaching friends, Nikolay (Shyfan) Mykolasia and Ivan Smirnov.

My presentation was on mindfulness, love, understanding and connectedness. The Russian and Ukrainian coaches were warm-hearted, eager to learn and together shared much laughter. It was the most fun I’d had presenting at ICF chapters. This experience continues to live in my heart.

Fast forward four years to Thursday, February 24, 2022. The Journey of 1,000 Hugs took on a new importance and meaning: Russia invaded Ukraine.

The Three Treasures Practice
All Peoples of the World

As a coach who is committed to walking her talk, the last eight days since the invasion I have been steeping myself in the Three Treasures Practice.  It was developed many years ago by Mac Dryden, ACC and myself as antidotes for grief and loss. If you would find it helpful, please practice these alchemical mantras with me.

Find a place to sit. Inhale and exhale deeply. Settle in. Imagine all Peoples of the World in your mind’s eye. Say and repeat the six mantras below:

•May all Peoples of the World now be filled with loving kindness.
•May all Peoples of the World now be safe and protected.
•May all Peoples of the World now be resilient in mind and body.
•May all Peoples of the World now live with ease and joy.
•May all Peoples of the World celebrate our differences.
•May all Peoples of the World hug a thousand times more.

With a deep bow of respect to all sentient beings,
This song reached deep into my heart.  I wanted to share it with you.
Holly Near: Send In a Thousand Grandmothers

The Journey of a 1,000 Hugs has begun!  In celebration of my 70th year and the school’s 7th year I’ll be traveling and comfort camping in my Tesla as well as periodic stays at B & B’s. Join me! I would love to meet up with you.

Next journey: From Santa Fe to Albuquerque to Tucson,to Marfa, Texas!


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

More Posts


[Right Speech] highly resonated with me and my current needs for growth. I cannot be more thankful for the support of this community, and our instructor Meg…With the guidance and support of the Mindfulness Coaching School I can see that I am closer to a life of purpose and meaning. Thank you Ann-Marie, instructors and fellow coaching students for creating this wonderful community.
Ruby OrcuttStudent CoachDerby, NY
The course [S-T-R-E-T-C-H!] allowed me to ‘stretch’ my ability to practice what I preach. Philip was very competent and helpful to all of us. It was a great experience. Thank you Ann-Marie, Philip, and Brittany!
ElKhansa KaicerStudent CoachLos Angeles, California
Business Alchemy helped me grow into and clarify my purpose in coaching. I was able to create the story of me that brought me to where I am and my passion to inspire others on their journey. Ann-Marie’s guidance through understanding service marketing was heartening, powerful and inspiring. Sarah’s encouragement and gentle way of pulling the essence of us to the surface was spectacular! Thank you both, as well as my fellow students, for an incredible experience! And I’m getting clients!
Brenda FaganStudent CoachNew Orleans, LA
Fabulous course to get you into or back into writing fearlessly and joyfully! [Writing, Creativity, and the Mindful Coach]
Lara AbreuStudent CoachPleasanton, CA
This class will give you a coaching community in just a few short months. I now feel that I have colleagues and a support system that I can reach out to in times of need. So grateful for having the chance to know these remarkable individuals.
Alicia UpchurchStudent CoachBrooklyn, New York
I’ve been a therapist for years now, but still get the jitters every time I begin to work with a new client (probably the “fixer” in me). It was a joy to watch Ann-Marie in action [during Skillful Means: The Coaching Skill Set] and realize that we don’t need to feel like we have all the answers for the client!
Jeanna SmithStudent CoachPhoenix, AZ
I highly recommend Business Alchemy if you want to learn practical and specific advice and tools to establish and grow your coaching business! This course helped me go from skeptical and uncertain to energized and equipped to create the thriving coaching business that I want for myself and my clients!
Matt WaldschmidtStudent CoachBruce Township, MI
More than just a class to help us eat more mindfully, Mindful Eating, Mindful Life is a great class for anyone interested in the topic, anyone with a desire to practice mindfulness in a new way and for anyone wanting to dust off or deepen their meditation practice. The course and materials may seem small, but they are so expansive. Thanks to Brittany for bringing this topic alive and for the school for providing such an amazing course in mindfulness.
Gretchen LarsenMCS GraduateBirmingham, AL
The Dynamic Trio: EMDR, Positive Psychology and Coaching, is a wonderful opportunity for professionals to learn varied techniques and practical applications for including an integrative approach into both their professional practices and personal lives. As a behavioral health therapist, LADAC, EMDR practitioner, yoga instructor, and health educator I found this class and Ann-Marie’s expertise and teaching methods both inspirational and mindfully practical. I look forward to further classes with Ann-Marie. Thank you!  
Misty Gay McArthurMSW, LCSW, LADAC, EMDR Trained
This course [Skillful Means] is life changing personally and professionally. Skills are not only learned, but internalized so that the coach can be an effective listener. I would highly recommend this to any coach — experienced or a beginner.
Sandy Wright, M.A.Student CoachFayetteville, AR