Journey into Mindfulness
I always thought that mindfulness was just about meditating. Through my yoga practice and a 200 hour yoga teacher certification program (RYT 200), I began to understand that while mindfulness included ways to calm my mind through meditation, the real work began once I truly understood the meaning of being present.
Being present in this moment, right now, changed everything! I understood that when trying to interact with other people, trying to “multi-task” just does not work. It is impossible to be on the phone with someone while trying to catch up on emails or texting someone back. Or, if one of my children wanted to talk to me while I was on my computer, I had to stop doing what I was doing in order to be present. While I thought I could manage multiple simple tasks, being present is not a simple task; I am not talking about playing Candy Crush while watching TV. I am talking being present when someone is talking to me, whether I am on the phone or sharing a meal with them.
There is so much to notice when listening to someone. Aside from just absorbing what they are saying, there is tone, inflection, choice of works and other subtle actions. And if you happen to be in the same room with the person who is speaking, there are gestures, body language, eye movement, facial expressions and a host of other queues that help convey the message of the person talking.
Besides listening to the message, I have learned to focus my brain on what is being communicated and not drifting away. Yes, my mind still wanders when I am listening to someone, but I gently bring myself back and renew my focus. I don’t berate myself for getting distracted, since that is part of life. I also resist the urge to interrupt whoever is speaking, because I have something so important to interject that I can’t seem to wait another moment to let the person stop talking. I know, you are thinking, “I do that all of the time.” It is a gift to let the person talking complete their thoughts before interjecting something. First, the speaker is happy because they actually get to say what they wanted to say, and the conversation tends to stay more focused, on the topic at hand vs following a winding, curvy road.
Now if you want to really try a game changer, after the person has said their peace, try to repeat something back to them to acknowledge you heard what they said. I will say, “So, what I think I heard you say……..” Now the speaker is really happy, because I have let them know I understand their message, and from there I can add comments and share specific ideas on what I heard.
So, next time you’re talking with someone, give them the best gift possible: you and your presence.