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Sunday, June 16, 2019

The Gift of Your Presence

Photo by from Pexels

by Catharine Hannay

The most important part of ‘mindful speech’ might actually be knowing when not to talk. Being a good listener is much rarer than you might think, especially now that everyone’s so distracted by what’s happening on their phones.

As Father Greg Boyle says, mindful listening means “Now. Here. This. Listen here and now and only to this person.” (Barking to the Choir: The Power of Radical Kinship)

Some mindfulness teachers call this type of focused attention deep listening. Dr. Dzung Vo explains,

One thing we all have in common is that we want to feel heard and understood. When you practice deep listening, you listen just to really hear and understand the other person as best you can. You try not to judge what he or she is saying as ‘right’ or ‘wrong.’ You try not to interrupt him or her, correct him or her, or attempt to ‘fix’ his or her problem. You just listen. (The Mindful Teen)

The next time you're having a conversation with someone, ask yourself:

  • Am I fully focused on what this person is saying?
  • Do my facial expression and body language show that I'm paying attention?
  • Am I giving the type of support this person needs right now? 
  • If I disagree with what this person is saying, do I wait until he or she is finished speaking before stating my own opinion?

Try giving the most important gift in the world: Be present.

You may be inspired by these organizations that are transforming their communities through mindful listening:

Hi From the Other Side: "pairs nice people across the political divide to talk like neighbors. Not to convince, but to understand."

Living Room Conversations:  "a conversational bridge across issues that divide and separate us."

Sidewalk Talk: "heart-centered listening in public spaces," guided by licensed mental health care providers.


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