Our second mindfulness feature in our #MindfulMonday series is about listening.
I’ll bet there have been times you felt like the person you were talking to was so busy thinking of their response they didn’t listen to what you were saying. Or you’ve been interrupted mid-sentence. Perhaps you noticed that someone was distracted while you were speaking.
You’ve probably even missed what someone was saying to you because you were so focused on your response. You’ve probably even interrupted someone mid-sentence with your own thought that may not have even been related to the conversation. Since we’re being honest, your mind has wandered on occasion and you’ve missed all of what someone else was telling you.
These things are common. They’re even more common after a brain injury as we navigate social situations, business meetings, school lectures and more. Listening is difficult. But there are benefits to mindful listening.
Self-awareness – Mindful listening helps you to become aware of your physical and mental presence throughout a conversation and is a critical part of being mindful because it allows you to be present in the moment.
Empathy – When you are practicing mindful listening you increase your ability to best relate to how the person you are speaking with feels. Taking the time and energy to share what the other person is feeling give you a sense of being in someone else’s position and to really listen to what they are saying to you.
Focus – It takes a lot of attention, and intention, to focus on listening to others when they are speaking. Did you know that the habit of focus will affect other aspects of your life, too? As a result you will gradually become able to focus on tasks, learn how to slow down racing thoughts, and even block out distracting noises to pay attention only to what is being said to you.
The exercise for this week is a little “self-listening.” As you learn to listen to your inner voice, the beat of your heart, the thoughts you have at any given moment, you’ll begin to be a better listener when you are in conversations with others.
Step 1 – Sit upright in a comfortable chair with your feet flat on the floor and your hands resting in your lap.
Step 2 – Center your attention on your heart beat.
Step 3 – Listen to your heartbeat. What is it saying to you?
This exercise can be done at any time and is a great way to get in touch with how your body feels, what messages it is sending you. You can listen to your heart today, your breathing tomorrow, your stomach on another day, and so on.