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!


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I really enjoyed taking The Dynamic Trio: EMDR, Positive Psychology & Somatic Coaching. The course provided me with new knowledge and applications of the material, not just to use in my personal life but also to integrate what I learned into my practice as a mental health therapist… I appreciate Ann-Marie setting the mood for the group and laying the foundation for safety, acceptance and openness from the beginning.
Graciela OlidMS, LMFTRancho Cucamonga, CA
I signed up with the Mindfulness Coaching School after speaking with Ann-Marie, and because of her experience as an EMDR Therapist. The readings and classes have helped me expand my therapy skills and opened up new perspectives with my clients. Ann-Marie’s style of teaching matches my needs so well. Her intuition, playfulness and sense of adventure are evident during class. I look forward to continuing this journey of personal growth that will lead me to my bliss and help others to do the same!!
Dawn ZivanovichMSW, RSW, Certified EMDR Therapist
[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
What seemed apparent in the course description [The Art of Engaged Mindfulness] cannot contain the experience of going on this journey with Ann-Marie and a class full of incredible people. Because of this course, I’m a better coach and a wiser human.
Sandy WrightM.A.Fayetteville, AR
I appreciated the online learning format for obtaining my EMDRIA credits and was glad to experience a taste of professional coaching. The class (The Dynamic Trio) made me curious about the process of transitioning from a clinical psychologist towards a professional coach. Thanks!    
Karen M. FahertyPh.D.
I went into Right Speech thinking it was a way to connect through words and discovered it was much more. Transforming beliefs and behaviors, courage, resilience, kindness, listening; the qualities of how and what we communicate, nonviolent communication, connecting to self, understanding our needs and feelings as a series of openings that help us coach our clients to self-awareness and the change they want to be.
Sandy WrightM.A.Fayetteville, AR
[Right Speech] was incredibly valuable for my coaching skills, and for my life. There was so much applicable information presented in an embodied and pragmatic way. [Meg Hess, PCC, D. Min.] has an ability to evoke wisdom from everyone.
Jasmin BristowStudent CoachHawthorne, CA
Simply put, when I was taught coaching by a popular institute, I learned to coach thoughts and feelings. When I was taught The Dynamic Trio: EMDR, Positive Psychology, and Somatic Coaching at MCS, I learned how to feel those feelings and release them. The mind and body connected; this was the missing link for me.
Moira ClearyStudent CoachJohns Creek, GA
Ann-Marie was so open and honest. She was extremely patient and I look forward to more classes with her. She embodies the true spirit of a coach as she pushes you towards your own personal goals, while managing to teach you to focus on the client’s goal as well. Kudos to her and her team!
Sparkle C. BuntyonStudent CoachHermitage, TN
My experience being an MCS student has been one of the most enriching in my entire life. It has brought me closer to my nature. I have more faith in the process of life, in the process of coaching, and in the process of being.
Ruby C. OrcuttNCC, MHC-P, CASACDerby, NY