Tuesday, March 29, 2011


“Do the things you used to talk about doing but never did. Know when to let go and when to hold on tight. Stop rushing. Don't be intimidated to say it like it is. Stop apologizing all the time. Learn to say no, so your yes has some oomph. Spend time with the friends who lift you up, and cut loose the ones who bring you down. Stop giving your power away. Be more concerned with being interested than being interesting. Be old enough to appreciate your freedom, and young enough to enjoy it. Finally know who you are. ”

~ Kristin Armstrong

"To live content with small means; to seek elegance rather than luxury; and refinement rather than fashion; to be worthy, not respectable; and wealthy, not rich; to study hard, think quietly, talk gently, act frankly; to listen to stars and birds, to babes and sages, with open heart; to bear all cheerfully, do all bravely, await occasion, hurry never; in a word, to let the spiritual, unbidden and unconscious grow up through the common. This is to be my symphony." 

 ~William Henry Channing

Effective Communication with Mindfulness

Have you ever had the experience while talking to someone where the person is really not listening to you? They act like they are but it is obvious that they aren’t. The ironic part is that they probably think they are communicating with you but on some level you just feel that you weren’t heard at all.
Communication is something we all engage in on a daily basis but due to the pace of our lives, conversations become just formalities. It is like when you go to the store and the cashier asks you: “how are you?” It’s as if she was on cruise control as opposed to really being interested in how you are doing.
Living mindfully isn’t limited to meditation, but can also be applied to effective communication in our daily interactions with other people. This article takes a look at 10effective communication tips using the principles ofmindfulness.
In my work as an attorney, eighty percent of cases I have seen in my career are a result of some form of misunderstanding and lack of effective communication. People agree to do something. They sign papers and start working on a project. Eventually, it turns out that each party heard something completely different.

Communication Truth: We Hear What We Want to Hear

Let’s say someone tells you that they will talk to you later. Well, what does later mean? Does it mean five minutes from now? Does it mean five hours or five days from now? Or is that a polite way to convey that they have no desire to ever talk to you again? The possibilities are endless
I was recently talking to a friend about a problem that I had. I poured my heart out to her and when it was her turn to talk, she just gave me her thoughts which were mainly about herself and totally missed the point of what I was saying. I realize that my friend had good intentions but she was just not listening.
My initial reaction was sadness because I did not see how she could have misunderstood what I was saying. I started to wonder if maybe I did not express myself clearly. However, as I thought about what she had told me, I realized that she was listening to me from the perspective of her views of the world without placing herself in my shoes.
My friend was trying to find something in her life that made her feel the same way without truly understanding what I was feeling. It was like she heard only one word and was only focused on that one word but not the context.
The whole interaction fascinated me. Of course, that was not the first time I have had such an experience with someone. However, it was the first time where all the pieces fell into place and I realized the importance of applying mindfulness into my own communication.

Communication vs. Mindfulness Communication

Mindfulness communication is a term that originates in Buddhist philosophy and became popular in the West due to the work of Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn. He is the person who is credited for introducing to the medical profession the concept that meditationhelps people reduce stress and other physical ailments.
Mindfulness communication means to listen and speak with compassion, kindness and awareness. According to the Merriam Webster dictionary, regular communication is defined as “the imparting or interchange of thoughts, opinions, or information by speech, writing, or signs.”
As you notice in the above definition, there is no mention of compassion or kindness. If you watch any regular interaction between people, the form of communication will appear to fit the regular definition.
One person says one thing and the other person shares their thoughts. Most of the time, when someone is asked a question, they answer immediately. Not many seem to really think before speaking. In order to engage in effective communication using mindfulness, we have to listen mindfully and speak mindfully.

5 Tips to Listen with Mindfulness

1. Clear Your Head

When someone starts to talk to you, do your best to clear your head of any thoughts that are occupying your mind. Remove any sense of judgment about the person who is talking.
To listen to someone with a preconceived idea of who you think they are or what they are about to say, puts you at a disadvantage because you may miss what you could otherwise learn from the person who is talking.

2. Create a Safe Space

It is never easy for someone to open themselves up and tell you what is on their mind. If you really are attentive to what they are saying, it indirectly tells the other person that it is safe for them to be themselves with you.

3. Maintain Eye Contact

When someone is talking to you, do not look at your feet or the ceiling or whatever else is surrounding you. Just look into the eyes of the person who is talking. It shows that you care and wouldn’t you want someone to do the same for you?

4. Put Yourself In The Other Person’s Perspective

Experiences are relative; meaning people react and see things based on how they view the world. Put yourself in the shoes of the person who is talking and try to see the world from that angle.
Back in 2004, I was working in an office where everyone was a big supporter of a certain political view. I thought they were crazy but when I tried to understand why they all supported it, I saw that they really were good people who thought that the political idea in question would protect them. I disagreed but that was okay. I saw why they thought the way that they did. It made working with them so much easier.

5. Don’t Assume

If the person who is talking says something that you do not understand or is not very clear, don’t assume a thing but ask them to clarify their statement. Many times people assume that the other person means one thing when in reality they could be talking about something totally different. There is nothing wrong with asking questions as long as you ask them with compassion.

5 Tips to Speak with Mindfulness

1. Think Before Speaking

When someone asks you a question, don’t just immediately start talking. Take at least ten to twenty seconds (or more) to think about the question and how you want to answer.
When I first started dating my husband, I used to get impatient when it would take him a long time to answer my questions but then I realized he was thinking about what to say and I wasn’t used to someone actually taking the time to ponder the question.
It touched me so much, I started to do the same and it is amazing how much people really appreciate it when you take their questions seriously.

2. Choose Your Words Consciously

Just because something makes sense to you does not mean it will make sense to the other person.
I have a friend who has a very strange sense of humor. Most of the time, it sounds like he is insulting you but in reality he is not. I don’t think he is aware of what he does and he is always amazed that people get mad at him or feel hurt after speaking to him.
Painful words can cause more damage than physical pain, so choose your words consciously and carefully. Not everyone is willing to give another person a second chance. A sentence uttered without thinking can cause a person to lose their job orend a relationship.

3. Speak Your Truth

Many times when we talk to someone, we like to give off a certain image. We want to appear as perfect as possible. We want the other person to like us and to think highly of us. Therefore, many people try too hard to be something they are not and they end up acting that way through a conversation.
The best thing you can do for yourself is to be yourself. That means speaking your truth. This does not mean you have to be rude or mean. You can speak your truth with compassion and kindness.
For example, I once met someone who was very critical of people who were vegans. The funny thing was that the person had no idea that I have been a vegan (vegetarian) for 21 years. I had two choices. I could either play along or tell the truth. I went ahead and told the guy the truth.
I was calm and told him that I understood his point of view. I went on and shared with him my thoughts on the issue. We ended up having a really great conversation and neither one of us ever had to raise our voice. No one likes to be lied to so don’t lie about who you are.

4. Mean What You Say

If when talking to someone, you tell them that you will send them a certain document by a certain date, do keep your word. You will earn a lot of respect when you follow through with your promises.
If you have no desire to talk to one person ever again, then do not say you will give them a call sometime. Whether it is in business or romance or with friends, keeping your word goes a long way. A Buddhist master once said to me, “word, thought and deed have to be one”. So don’t say you will do something when you really don’t intend to do it.

Parting Words: Effective Communication

As a former “Type A” personality, I was always on the go and never really had time to talk to people. I always needed to be somewhere else or to do something. I am very well aware that the above steps may seem too time consuming but if you want to be successful in whatever you do and if you want to have meaningful relationships, you need people. As the saying goes, “it takes two to tango”.
The only way to have people respect you is if you respect them and engaging in effective communication using mindfulness is one of the best methods to earn that respect.
We all want to be heard and understood. Sometimes in order to have someone hear and understand us, we have to hear and understand them first.

About the Author:
Nadia is the VP of Spirituality on Think Simple Now. Nadia has worn many hats in her short life. She used to be an image consultant, political campaign writer and attorney. Writing and photography are her passions. Through her writing, she intents to help people see how Divine they truly are.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Real human relationships.

So here are 7 reasons why cultivating relationships is forever better than craving mere connections.

1. Relationships last

Connections have a shelf life. While the reason for the connection remains, either in mechanism e.g. a Twitter follower or a reason i.e. to bolster the number of people in their business network, the association bonds well. The moment one or other wants new (more profitable) alliances, the connection breaks all too flimsily.
Relationships and friendships are more long lasting and much more committed. And far stronger too.

2. They give as much as they get

Connections have an element of falseness. There is an unwritten mantra of ‘I’m in it as long as it benefits me’. Relationships would falter on such selfishness. They only grow through mutual appreciation whereby each individual gives as much as they get and never just until the advantages have been exhausted.
Relationships are mutual and based on a permanent give and take rather than take and run.

3. They grow stronger over time

Relationships are built to last, connections less so. Over time within a relationship the bonds and emotions become heightened and enduring and the people involved become closer. There is great respect, understanding, and admiration, which can’t ever be replicated to the same degree in some online or corporate link-up.
Relationships grow stronger and more devoted over time – fewer connections ever manage this.

4. They have the human touch

Humans would die without personal contact with each other – a fact. Relationships falter, friendships get pressured, and long standing groups fall away without it. This genetic ‘need’ keeps us physically together so we can be in each other’s company, smile, laugh, hug and touch, with those that matter to us. A web cam or e-mail or Facebook poke can never replace that reality. We need touch.
Relationships support our human survival instinct of being together in the flesh.

5. For personal and private turn to a relationship

Connections provide superb assistance and add a large degree of support to life. But they can never match the huge depth that relationships have. If you are facing a major issue or hurtful time there is only so much you can or want to say to the world at large. The situation is personal and you require private confidantes in your life in return to talk and open up to who you know won’t share your pains or gossip about it publicly. People who know and love you who will get you through.
Relationships are there when things get personal and when you need things kept private.

6. Relationships are earnt, not given.

Relationships aren’t given away, they have to be earnt. The closeness and feeling you share with someone has to have been developed over years and years of showing and proving your character and trust to another. Connections often only start over an online request or business card so no knowledge of a person’s past is declared or even known. Relationships that have a strong future get there often from a shared past.
Relationships have to be merited not created like connections can be.

7. They are all about love

Love is many things from respect to holding others in great esteem. But true love is the major emotion two hearts feel with its accompanying attraction, desire, passion, and immense longing. It gets in your mind, your bones, your actions, and flows through your blood like oxygen filling the whole system. No connection can ever replace love or even come close to it because it’s only relationships where love is born and where the love is shared naturally and humanly.
Relationships are love and love is relationships. Nothing else comes close.

Connections are what keeps mankind on the move. From ideas to trade, shared information to justice, without them the world would be a lot smaller and a less developed place. Connections are good!
After all where would I be without connections reading and commenting on my blog?
But, we don’t want to lose the balance of connections over relationships because we can link up across the world but be lonely right where we are. Relationships supply us with more things than connections ever can for longer than they ever can.
You can’t marry a Tweet, you can’t hug a business card, and you can never discuss a personal hurt with a room full of social networking buffs at a training conference.You need real relationships for that.
Relationships matter, make sure yours always matter first to you.