Inviting Your Dragons for Tea

There is a story about the Buddha suggesting that we do just this as a way of dealing with painful or negative thoughts and feelings. The Dragon in that story is called Mara; you can call yours whatever you want….I know someone who called her Chief Dragon, Gilbert! And the first step is what we talked about last week, being able to See and Name the Dragon. In the story, the Buddha starts by saying “I see you, Mara.” when Mara wanders into his house. Then, in the story, he gives Mara an imaginary cushion, invites them to sit and makes tea. He sits down quietly with Mara for a little while until, without much happening, Mara gets up and wanders away and the Buddha gets back to what he was doing before Mara appeared

Why might this story matter to you? Well, the Buddhist principle – put simply because I am not a Buddhist – is that we suffer most when we find ourselves unable to accept what is. So, denying the existence of the Dragons tends not to work so well because they just keep showing up. And they can lurk in the corner of your mental eye if you stick your fingers in your ears and sing “La, la, I can’t see you”. Trying to shove them back out through the door takes quite a lot of energy which can be a distraction from other things that we actually want to invest time and energy in. On top of that, in my experience, Dragons do not appear to like change much….they seem to get rather ruffled, shout louder and show up more often.

How can we use it in coaching if it all sounds a bit airy-fairy? Sometimes as a coach I find that it is as if there are three people in the conversation; me as the coach, you focusing on how to do what you want to do and an invisible Dragon trying to sabotage you at your very first step or throw up seemingly impossible hurdles. Being able to say “We see you, Dragon.” allows us to make that conversation more real and more practical because it is real. And inviting the Dragon to sit quietly in the corner with a cup of tea allows you space to decide if you want to give the Dragon a vote regardless of their opinion about you or your own renovation project.

When do you notice your Dragons turn up most often? Do different things trigger different Dragons?