We communicate to connect.
At its heart, mindfulness is a practice of connection. We engage our natural ability to remain present for and open to the whole of our lived experience, clearly and without judgment.
As we continue to cultivate this natural presence and attentiveness, we observe how thoughts and feelings obscure our ability to see life clearly and directly, and how preconceptions can bias both what we experience and how we respond.
Listening with mindfulness means listening with our entire being. We give our complete presence and attention to the person speaking to us (we are no longer 'just waiting for our turn to speak'). We listen without expectation or judgment, without rushing to 'fix' or 'correct' what is said. We recognize if and when our own thoughts, feelings, and preconceptions are interfering with our ability to remain open to and receive clearly what is said. So too we attend to all that the speaker's body communicates, and in that way we 'listen to the unspoken.'
Bringing mindfulness to our speaking is to introduce the clarity of intention. Speaking with intention invites the possibility of 'saying less, but meaning more', and recognizing when we have strayed from our intent. It further offers the opportunity to attune ourselves to the person we are speaking with, and to adjust ourselves to the needs of the moment. Finally, when we speak to communicate and connect, we recognize that we are not speaking 'to' someone, but 'with' them.
Bringing mindfulness both to our listening and speaking, we become aware of just how complex and difficult true communication can be. Yet we simultaneously begin to recognize just how invaluable and nourishing true expression and connection can be.