A Year of Living Mindfully: Week 19. Being Present in Mind and Body

BEING PRESENT IN MIND AND BODY

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Technology has taken over basic human interactions. Instead of admiring a sunset with a loved one, we take a picture of it and upload it to Instagram. We watch movies with friends and spend half the movie with our heads in our phones updating our news feeds. When we are somewhere else mentally, we might as well not be present physically. When we are not present with someone, they may feel neglected and ignored. 

At Christmas time, my phone got robbed and I was forced to use an old block of a phone with a grey screen and a memory that could hold 20 messages in my inbox at a time. But it had internet access….. NOT. I spent 3 weeks without internet access on my phone. If I needed to check emails, I logged onto my laptop and done it the old fashioned way. I spent a lot of time in my own head. I learned a lot about myself during those 3 weeks. I realized how much I “thought” I needed my phone and how much time others spent on theirs.

One evening my best friend came to visit and we sat down to watch a movie. She stared at her phone for the first 30 minutes. I could feel my blood boil. I asked politely for her to put her phone away as I thought it was rude of her. She laughed it off and continued watching some random Snapchat story on her phone. I didn’t understand why she even bothered to come visit and watch a movie if she was going to sit on the couch on her own for most of the night. I never felt so alone. That was me before my phone got robbed. It made me realize how many amazing opportunities or memories I had missed because I was on my phone or I was busy taking a picture of the memory. From that night on, I always tried to make more of a conscious effort to put my phone down when others were talking or when I had allocated a time to do an activity with someone.

This weeks exercise wanted me to stay present with friends, family and colleagues with these simple steps: 

  • Turn off your phone and put it out of sight. Having it on the table next to you gives a message that something may take precedence over your time with this person.
  • Notice where your mind goes. Every time you are aware of it drifting off, bring it back in the same way as you do when you meditate.
  • Notice whether any particular emotions are arising- perhaps restlessness or the wish to be somewhere else. Whatever comes up, acknowledge it, tune into the body, and explore any sensations that accompany it.
  • Practice Listening Mindfully (Week 10’s exercise).
  • Reflect on how being present with someone both physically and mentally affects the encounter and the relationship. What do you notice?

Reflection:

The same friend came over again the other night and I purposely left my phone upstairs. We didn’t watch a movie, we just sat there and chatted and it was amazing. We laughed loads and spent genuine time together. At one point I had to go grab my phone so we could double check a date for the next time we were planning to spend time together. We just sat there an listened to each other. I was nice not having any distractions for a while and I felt grateful that I had someone who wanted to sit there and be present with me. I was worthy of their time and they were worthy of mine.

Work colleagues on the other hand, I just cannot stay present with. It is much harder to stay present and actively listen when you and the other person and worlds apart and you have genuinely no interest. That’s kinda mean but that’s what goes through my head. I do try stay present as often as a I can but my mind drifts off and I get easily distracted or reach for my phone. I must try this exercise with a work colleague and report back. It is hard though when you’re working a 13 hour night shift and the same person is speaking to you the entire night. How can someone hold concentration for that long? ZZZZZZzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz………………….

Goal: 

Must try stay present at work. Stop being rude and staring at my phone in the company of others.

 

J x



 

劈 Year of Living Mindfully: Week 10


LISTENING MINDFULLY 

We listen to respond rather than listen to understand.

When we communicate with others, a large part of our time is spent in our heads, rehearsing what we want to say, rather than paying attention to what is actually being said. We often miss important information and only concentrate on what we are going to reply. A big part of good communication is listening. Sometimes when someone is telling a story, they just want to be listened to. Personally, I can feel under pressure sometimes to reply or respond when someone is speaking. Over the years I have learned that being comfortable in silence and just listening can be just as effective. Our minds often drift away when we are listening to long stories. This weeks exercise gave pointers of how to be present whilst listening. 

  • Stay present. When you find your mind wandering off, bring it back to the present, just like in meditation. 
  • Let the speaker finish before you speak. Don’t interrupt. 
  • Listening is much more than just hearing words with your ears. Be mindful of the speakers body language and facial cues, their tone of voice.
  • If you become aware of yourself rehearsing what to say next. Acknowledge this and stop it. Let it go. 
  • You may get an urge to fix or make things better when listening to someone’s problems or stories. You don’t have to give the person advice. Most of the time they just simply want a listening ear. 
  • Notice if there is a ‘me too’. I always do this. I used to think it was kind to emphasise and let the other person know they weren’t alone because it had happened me too. Sometimes it can be helpful. But sometimes you are just waiting to jump into the conversation instead of listening. 

Listening VS Hearing 

Listening is intentional and active. As opposed to hearing, which is the passive receiving of sound vibrations passing through the ear. We can choose to listen- or not. 

 As you become more aware of mindful listening, try widening your awareness to include experiences happening within the body. Notice any felt sensations happening when you are hearing. You may feel a sense of calmness and relaxation when listening to someone speak. Or you may feel your face frown and your belly contract. What emotions come about when you are hearing. A story someone tells you might make you angry or sad. Notice these emotions. The book advises to view these emotions as a passing state: “anger is here” rather than “i am angry”. 

 When we listen mindfully we are able to view the person speaking as a whole. Delve deeper into the history underlying the words that are being spoken. You might notice pain in the persons story and can response empathically. 

 This isn’t an easy practice. I’m known for jumping into conversations and being uneasy until I can jump in again. I find it hard to remain silent and can easily drift off into a day dream if a story is long and boring. The main thing to remember was is, it may sound long and boring to you but it is important to the speaker and they are you telling you it for a reason. Listen to the reason behind the story. Be gentle with yourself when you forget this practice and interrupt the person speaking. It takes time. Be aware of yourself doing this. The more you acknowledge it, the more chance of it becoming a reactive response. 

How do you feel when someone actively listens to you? 

How do you feel when someone interrupts you?