We’ve all had that moment where someone is talking to us, but when you stop to think, you don’t really know what was said. As I started to try to be more mindful, I found myself noticing that I wasn’t really present in the conversation I was having. Not that it was a topic I wasn’t interested or I had something more important in mind, I just spaced out and wasn’t really there. I then put myself in the other person’s shoes. I wouldn’t like it if the person I was talking to wasn’t really listening to what I was saying. Mindful listening is about bringing awareness to what is being said. The question is how can we incorporate mindful listening into our lives? Here are three easy ways to do that.
Start by incorporating mindful listening to your meditation practice.
Meditation is about being present. That includes your breath, thoughts and what you can listen. Next time you meditate, set a few moments to be aware of what you can listen. Start with the sounds more apparent to the ones more subtle. Try then to focus on the ones closest to you to the ones further away. Practicing mindful listening is just like practicing anything else. You need time and repetition. So when you practice mindful listening in a more controlled environment when you meditate, it’s easier to when you are having a conversation, or in a lecture or meeting.
Prioritize where your attention is.
There’s this myth about how we need to multi-task to be efficient. And that myth is taking over our relationships and conversations. How many times have you talked to someone while they were on their phone doing something else? It might seem that it’s just less eye contact in this conversation, but when one tried to divide their attention between their phones and the other person, parts of the conversation get lost. The solution here is to prioritize where your attention. If you are sending an important message or email, it’s ok to say “give me just one minute, let me finish this so I can listen to you”. It might sound awkward at first, but trust me that it pays off in the long run. People appreciate when they know you are present and engaged. My husband and I have adopted this practice and in the beginning, it seemed like I was trying to force something into our relationship; today, not so much. We know and respect whatever the other is doing because we know the other will listen to what we have to say. Now if you are on social media, or watching videos on youtube or even chatting with someone else, please put your phone away. The person in front of you should be the priority.
It’s ok if you are not really listening.
One of the most important things about being mindful is to be present and without judgment. That includes when you are listening. If you find yourself spacing out in a conversation or lecture, notice that moment and try again. That is perfectly fine! The important thing is that you were mindful of your behavior. When you do so, you are able to start again. Remember, practicing mindful listening is just like any other skill. So in a non-judgemental way, notice re-focus your attention and start again. As many times you need to. Unmindful listening is what our generation is used to doing so it might take a while to learn this new way of listening.
In the end, ask yourself if you are really listening? Start to notice how you behave when you are in a situation that needs you to fully listen. Are you completely present or are somewhere else? Do you listen mindfully or unmindfully? I hope to have encouraged you in any way.
Tchau for now,