A few months back, being a part of the British Council library in Pune, I was notified about a mindfulness workshop they had arranged. Reading a lot about this topic online and listening to quite a few YouTube videos on the same, I decided to go for this practice-based session.
“The present moment is the only time over which we have dominion.”
One fine Saturday morning I went there and was happy to be introduced to a group of about 15–20 people of different age groups and diverse backgrounds attending the workshop. Initially, we spoke about our ideas on what mindfulness is and what we seek to learn from this workshop. The session started with meditation which set the tone for the rest of the workshop. Gradually, the facilitator involved us with different aspects of mindfulness through fun tasks which involved each of the person there interacting with and conversing with every other person present. It was amazing how well we got to know each other in such a short time.
Out of all the consecutive tasks of practicing mindfulness, one that will stay with me forever is the ‘mindful listening’ task. In this, we were randomly asked to select a partner from the group. What we had to do was to sit for 5 minutes and listen to what the person in front is speaking without saying anything at all. After the 5 minutes were over, we could then share how we felt with that person. And then, the same was to be repeated for yourself where you would get to speak and he/she would listen for 5 minutes. I happened to sit beside this gentleman and we began our task. We decided to go with me speaking and him listening for the first round, and then vice-versa for the next round. The facilitator started the 5-minute timer. I began by speaking about what came to my mind the first, and that was about the major career change I had been going through. The next I spoke about was my family. One thought led to another and I shared those with him, without much prior thinking and planning. He listened intently for 5 minutes without saying anything, without putting forth his thoughts and opinions midway, and letting me portray all my thoughts at that time. He nodded from time-to-time and had decent eye contact to let me know that I was being listened to. 5 minutes of this task- and I felt so appreciated and open to sharing my ideas in a non-judgmental way.
Next came my turn to be the listener. The gentleman started speaking about his life, his family, and a business he had started not long back. He spoke about the essence of life and happiness. And in those 5 minutes, I unknowingly learned so much more about what life is. I had never thought that this 5-minute conversation would have such an impact on my life, but when I do come across a challenge even now, I look back to the lessons I had learned back then. And it still helps me overcome them! But most importantly, I learned how to silence the internal noise of my own thoughts to hear the whole message, and so that the speaker felt understood. I learned how to be more empathetic!
How often do you come across situations in which you are interrupted while you speak with opinions and judgments?
How often do you tend to put your thoughts forward halfway between someone else putting forth theirs?
This world would be a much better place if only we listened mindfully — being in the moment.
“Live the actual moment. Only this actual moment is life.”