Mindfulness Training for Health and Wellbeing

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In the April newsletter, I listed 6 reasons why mindfulness matters.  Each month, I expand on the next reason in the list.  This month is reason 5.

  1. Improves one’s ability to regulate emotions.
  2. Cultivates a way of “being” for ourselves that is consistent with how we see ourselves.
  3. Helps to illuminate our motives when we take action
  4. Mindfulness helps to balance thinking with other sources of intelligence i.e. emotions and body sensations
  5. Improves interpersonal communication through becoming a better listener
  6. Helps us to recognize and challenge our perceptions of challenges

“Why Mindfulness Matters” in the book “The Mindfulness Revolution” edited by Barry Boyce.

Today, I would like to elaborate on the fifth reason taken from this list:   “Improves interpersonal communication through becoming a better listener”.

One of the exercises that is offered in MBSR is a mindful listening exercise.  It goes like this.  In pairs, one person talks for 3 minutes about anything they want and the promise is that there will be no interruptions by the other person, who is instructed to just listen.  The listener is then given 2 minutes to paraphrase what they heard the person saying, again without interruptions.

In almost every class, participants observe that simply listening is challenging.  For most of us, we habitually interrupt or make comments about what we are hearing.  You may recall your own experience that when you listen, a lot of time is spent planning what you are going to say and/or judging what we are hearing.  Many participants report feeling the impulse to interrupt and feeling some discomfort with just sitting and listening.

In my life, I practice mindful listening in a number of different ways.  I have written in the past about how important it is to listen to my daughter when I get home from a busy day.  As I do my best to listen, I am reminded regularly how challenging it is just to hear the words and understand.  There is more to it than just the words.  We can listen for meaning through the emotions we are detecting, by facial expressions, and body language.  Mindful listening promotes greater understanding.  As well, the person communicating has the experience of feeling heard, respected, and valued.  All of these aspects of listening improve the quality of our communication. - See more at: http://practicalwellbeing.ca/blog/page/18/#sthash.qTMMAmrm.dpuf