Over the next few weeks we are going to learn about Mindful communication. Communication happens any time we say something to someone else through our words or actions, or anytime someone says something to us through their words or actions. Mindful Communication means that we are communicating with others while paying all of our attention with our bodies and our minds.
Mindful Listening is an important tool in Mindful Communication because it helps us connect with the people we are communicating with by giving them our full attention with our ears.
Mindful Listening is the first practice we will learn in Mindful Communication. It is one of the steps we can use to give people we are communicating with all of our attention. It is easy to forget to be mindful when we listen because there are always so many distractions all around us. How many of you have cell phones? Think about how many times you have checked your phone or texted someone while someone else was talking to you in person. This is not Mindful Listening because you are paying attention to something else instead of the person you are with.
Today’s practice may seem very simple: your teacher will assign you to a partner, and you will ask them about their weekend. If it is almost the weekend again, you can ask them what their plans are. Your goal here is to listen to what they are saying with all of your attention. It may sound easier than it is.
Your teacher will time this activity to go for three minutes. While you are having this conversation, see if you can notice when your mind starts to wander off. If it does, just bring your attention back to the person who is talking to you. Keep doing this each time your mind wanders.
After the two minutes is up, you can write down what you learned about your partner or make a drawing to show this. Take two minutes to complete this reflection. Then take a minute to tell your partner what your learned from your conversation today.
Your partner will now ask you about your weekend and listen mindfully to you.
Take a few minutes to reflect on this activity once both partners are done.
- How did it feel to know that you had your partner’s attention while they listened to you?
- How did it feel to give your partner your attention while you listened to them?
- If your mind wandered off, where did it go (e.g. What were you thinking about?)?
Teacher’s tip: you can give this activity to students any time you’d like to see them improve their listening skills.
Student’s tip: you can practice Mindful Listening every time you talk to someone. You don’t have to write down what you learned, or always reflect back to your partner, just see how well you can give them your full attention.