Last summer most of North America got to experience a solar eclipse, a total eclipse for those lucky to be in its path with a clear sky. We were collectively moved by a dramatic natural phenomenon.
I wonder whether in part we were captivated because of its parallel inside our minds. A strong emotion behaves (metaphorically) like an eclipse, inadvertently creating a blind spot and blocking access to an alternative perspective bringing wisdom or insight. The eclipse generates the tension of something unresolved. The agitated mind yearns for a “declipse,” to get past the stuck place of an eclipse and find resolution and balance.
Let's explore how the declipse may align with coaching, adult development, neural integration and mindfulness, and then walk through a how to - four mind-hacking steps to a declipse.
The Declipse & Coaching
An eclipse is what coaches call a growth edge.
In a new book titled "Pivoting: A Coach's Guide to Igniting Substantial Change," Clancy and Binkert unpack the nature of insight, the shifts in learning, perspective, even identity that coaches are trained to elicit. The shift from eclipse to declipse can be thought of as a small transformational shift. Masterful coaches quickly and reliably bring about such shifts, navigating from a growth edge to a momentary peace of mind.
The Declipse & Adult Development
Declipsing resonates with subject-object theory pioneered by Harvard adult developmental psychologists Bob Kegan and Lisa Lahey. During an inner eclipse the mind is “subject to” or under the control of an emotional state, thought, belief, or assumption, which generates tension. As Bob Kegan teaches, this is the state we call stress, when we are “in over our heads.” The demands of the moment exceed our abilities to meet them.
What the mind is “subject to” creates a blind spot, like an eclipse. It might sound like:
I hate my boss’s over-critical mindset… I wish this project were going better… I can’t seem to influence this person or situation… I am terrified to fail… If I don’t take control, things will fall apart… They don’t get me…
On the other side of the eclipse, following a declipse, is the object - when the insight is revealed. As the declipse happens, the insight emerges in a non-linear fashion (without thinking or controlled effort) and the tension lifts. In that moment we feel better, experiencing a small dose of equanimity and a tiny boost of consciousness:
I can extract the learning from my boss and let go of the sting… I am learning more when this project is challenging… I accept what I can’t change… Failure brings the best gifts… I get me…
The Declipse & Mindsight
Another way to explore this phenomenon is to connect to psychiatrist Dan Siegel’s framework of mindsight, which is a healthy process of neural integration into harmony and balance of either chaos (feeling out of control like worry or fear) or rigidity (wanting too much control like anger or revenge). Traveling from eclipse to declipse is a process of integration. The agitated state is integrated into its wisdom, thereby generating a healthy balance.
The Declipse & Mindfulness
Declipsing may align with a neurobiological model of mindfulness developed by Harvard psychologist David Vago called S-ART – self-awareness, self-regulation, and self-transcendence (with edits):
Systematic mindfulness training develops meta-awareness (self-awareness), an ability to effectively modulate one's behavior (self-regulation), and a positive relationship between self and other that transcends self-focused needs and increases prosocial characteristics (self-transcendence). This framework of self-awareness, -regulation, and -transcendence (S-ART), illustrates a method for becoming aware of the conditions that cause (and remove) distortions or biases…. Mindful awareness is thought to be critical for improving access and insight toward subject-object relations, such that the most fundamental nature of objects (including the self) is perceived “as they truly are,” without distortions or biases inherent in cognition… There is now evidence to suggest that mindfulness practice can modulate and produce enduring neuroplastic changes, including gross morphological changes, across the self-specific networks…
Declipsing is a path to many things - choose the metaphor which works best:
changes in self-oriented brain networks
Now How to Declipse
Once you understand the nature of declipses, you can experiment with shortcuts or mind hacks. Here are four mind-hacking steps that I practice early each morning in search of (temporary) equanimity (below is a video with a longer tour):
Step One: welcome, name, and befriend the agitated emotion or thought
Step Two: ask the agitation to move far enough away to create a declipse
Step Three: quiet your mind and enter the mind’s "inner sky," a still, empty place (what Buddhists describe as non-being).
Step Four: be receptive to intuition which reveals wisdom – after a few moments, your intuition will effortlessly serve up the balancing insight or wisdom and the agitation will settle
The below video, called the self-transformation habit and presented in a habits course on transformational leadership, provides more background and describes the declipse technique:
Self-Transformation Habit Video enter password: transformself
Coach Meg (creator of declipse habit)
More at www.wellcoacheshabits.com