Episode #7 of the course 10 easy meditations to bring calm to your everyday life by John Robin
Welcome to Day 7 of the course!
We’ve now explored six types of meditation, including the most recent one to do while walking. I hope you’re now seeing daily walks as opportunities to be present with your thoughts and turn inward to channel the mindful benefits of this practice.
As promised, today, we are going to turn to another thing that surrounds us every day: conversation.
Meditative Work: A Radical New Paradigm
When you are talking to someone, what do you notice? Do you notice the words they say? Or do you notice your thoughts relating to what they are telling you? Are you rehearsing what you’re going to say next? Are you off planning or daydreaming because you’ve lost interest?
Conversation is quite an activity! That’s why it’s also a great opportunity to practice meditation. And it will make you a better listener and better conversationalist—more specifically, a more mindful one.
Talking meditation is the act of using conversation with another person to deepen your mindfulness and awareness of what is happening during this most important type of exchange that you have many times a day. Like eating meditation and walking meditation, it is another active meditation, since it utilizes the activity of conversation as a focus of directed awareness.
By paying attention to what is happening in your mind during a conversation, you can gain a deeper awareness of how you can be more present in it. Most importantly, by approaching conversations as meditation exercises, you will be deepening your overall mindfulness and bringing more calm to your everyday life.
Here is how it’s done:
1. Find someone to speak with right now. Begin the conversation with the intention of keeping your focus on the conversation.
2. It can be a simple, “How are you doing?” If it’s someone you are quite comfortable with, you can simply say, “I’m practicing talking meditation.”
3. Let the conversation evolve naturally. Listen to what the other person says to you. Pay attention to what they are saying and what you are thinking as they say it. Pay attention to what arises naturally before you speak.
4. Be mindful of the thoughts in your head. Are they related to what you’ve just heard? To what you’re thinking or feeling about what you’ve heard? To what you’re about to say?
5. As you speak, notice this. What is happening as you form the sounds to speak? What thoughts arise as you speak to the other person?
6. Pay attention to the conversation and what you notice as you are in it. If your mind wanders from this, notice that, and return your attention to the conversation.
7. When you are finished, return your focus to the present.
Stop reading and do this meditation now.
How did this conversation go? Did you notice how, of all the meditations we’ve tried, this one is by far the hardest? Did you appreciate just how complex having a conversation is?
Good! Many who practice meditation avidly will experience great inner calm and deeper focus, but conversations are one area where our greatest knee-jerk instincts can often come up.
Practicing talking meditation will change how you communicate. It will slow you down because you build a layer between simply reacting to body language and words and deepening mindfulness so you can connect to and process thoughts about what you are hearing and saying. Notice how great meditators, such as the Dalai Lama, Deepak Chopra, or Thich Nhat Hanh, communicate, and you will notice that they speak very slowly and carefully. Such is the impact of mindfulness on conversation.
It’s possible that you will feel strange practicing this meditation. It might not seem natural to speak slower, as though you’re putting a parking brake on your norm. But remember the example of the caterpillar: Into the chrysalis it goes, and out it comes with wings and freedom to fly.
Slowing down will take you to a deeper place of transformation and how much further you will go in your conversations as you change inwardly.
Talking mediation is an active meditation that utilizes the activity of conversation as a focus of directed awareness. You can practice it by entering a conversation with the intention to treat it as a meditation. You will find that your awareness of what happens in a conversation deepens, and likely, you will slow down and draw on more meaningful aspects of communication.
Your homework is to try at least one more talking meditation today. Don’t forget to do a walking meditation too. Enjoy the new universe of calm you are building, now with seven kinds of meditation to seed naturally throughout your day.
Tomorrow, we’ll move on from talking to working—another kind of active meditation that will change you from the inside out.
The Lost Art of Good Conversation: A Mindful Way to Connect with Others and Enrich Everyday Life by Sakyong Mipham
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