Last night, I was lucky enough to meet up with old friends to have a ‘catch up’. It has been months since we were all together and the excitement for the opportunity to reconnect and share a bit of our personal happenings was infectious. At times, it felt like we were all talking at once. However, as we settled in to our places and the realization that we all have the time and the space to listen and be heard, our conversations became less frenzied and more spacious.
Mindful listening is a practice. Personally, there have been many conversations that I have had with people that I have been in a daze for, or anticipated what I would say before the other person was even finished speaking, or completely missed the other person’s perspective as I was too wrapped up in my interpretation in what they were sharing.
Last night, I caught myself, many times, eager to jump into the conversation with my contribution before the other person had finished. The fear that the very important things that I had to say would get missed was causing an anticipation rising in my body.
I had to stop myself. Remind myself to really practice mindful listening- hear my friends’ stories as something separate to my need to speak. To listen without assuming. And it completely transformed my experience of the evening.
I soon realized that, ACTUALLY, not everything that entered my head had to be shared, and that through the practice of mindful listening, I gave my friends my undivided and complete presence. It felt great. And when it did come turn for me to speak or respond, the gift was reciprocated.
This week’s mindfulness challenge is to practice mindful listening. Perhaps, we can all set the intention to notice when we feel the ‘my turn! my turn!’ voice creeping in as someone is talking. We can pause, and direct our listening attention to what the other person is saying. Then, when they are finished, see if our ‘my turn! my turn!’ voice really needed to be heard. If so, take your turn!
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