Being a keen observer in the midst of an interaction can be challenging. Obviously there is the topic of the conversation that takes up our primary focus, sometimes even before detecting nonverbal cues. Significant emotional reactions can be rather clear however, and lets face it, usually not easy to glance over as feelings are triggered. Defense mechanisms often rise and it can be difficult to control them and avoid saying or doing things we later regret.
Many of us have at least dabbled in the mindfulness movement, even if simply reading or watching Elizabeth Gilbert’s most popular work, Eat, Pray, Love. In one of my favorite scenes, Julia Roberts is seated in a dark room trying to meditate. When she briefly opens her eyes and sees the clock nearby she begins to question how she will make it through to the end. When I first tried meditation this was how I felt. I wondered if it would really help reduce stress (anyone else wonder?) Luckily, I came across a fantastic method. Transcendental meditation was effortless to do and immediately rewarded me with calm, a sense of peacefulness, and just as valuable, intense focus. There are other types of meditation that one may wish to explore to discover the best fit. You can check out some of them at the link below this article.
Meditation has been extremely beneficial in affording perspective into anything I get involved in, from my days as an overworked psychologist to the whirlwind of the 24/7 job as a SAHM with two little ones. My first evidence came in the form of interactions with colleagues and crisis situations at work. I then learned how effective it was in training one to summon a calm, cool, and collected composure in the face of any emotional reaction, and truly feel this way.
Mindfulness is essentially heightened focus. It is not easy at first, but once practiced really opens up one to a higher intelligence. Anyone not want to be smarter? Its being fully present, aware of all that’s going on around you, and at peace with whatever it is. For example the act of intentional focus on an object or “mantra” while taking note of the thoughts that pop-up, related and most importantly unrelated, is reaching this higher level of consciousness. Some easy ways to be mindful also include:
1. Checking in to notice how your body is feeling - a.k.a body scan.
2. Noticing what your thinking about and not following thoughts that are unhealthy for your well-being.
3. Taking mental note of how your reacting to a dissapointment and the urges of behaviors that want to follow the present emotion.
Basically whatever will allow you to listen to your thoughts and augment awareness of your feelings without judgements applies here. Practicing mindfulness makes it possible to have a birdseye view in conversations, therefore affording higher-level thinking. Often referred to as consciousness.
Such gains in awareness of emotions and behaviors can influence action toward change for the better. Not only increasing observation skills in one-to-one interactions, but contributing to personal well-being. Therefore, any doubt that may occur related to meditation can be negated by the promise of healthier connections, interpersonally and within oneself. A worthy effort that will create more happiness.