How can I be more mindful in social situations?

How can I be more mindful in social situations?

by Headspace » Fri Aug 29, 2014 10:50 pm

This is a great question, as so often people assume that we can only practice mindfulness if we are on our own or in a quiet place. So it is always important to make the distinction. Mindfulness is being present, no matter where we are, what we are doing, or who we are with, whereas meditation is an exercise in which we take ourselves away from the world around us, so that we can focus on training the mind with this quality of mindfulness.

The other common misconception is that mindfulness is very inward looking, that it somehow ignores others or negates what’s happening out in the world. But if we understand mindfulness well, then we know that it is the complete reverse. Mindfulness is about understanding, full stop. It does not distinguish between ‘me and you’ or ‘us and them’ or ‘this place and that place’. It is simply being aware of each and every new moment, with a kind, gentle and open mind.

When we think of mindfulness this way it is hard to imagine a better way to approach social gatherings. It is not a contrived way of being, we do not have to act in a special way or try to be something different, we are simply in the moment, aware. And because this quality of mind is non-judgmental in nature, it means that we no longer experience so much critical inner dialogue about others.

So, what can you actually do beyond ‘simply being mindful’? Well, one great example would be to listen patiently when others speak. Often when others are speaking we cannot wait of them to finish so we can offer our own opinion. We may even spend the time they are talking thinking about our reply rather than actually listening to what they are saying. So this would be one very easy way to apply a more mindful attitude.

Most of all though, I would say it is best if we try to coordinate our inner and outer motivation. So, if we are keen to experience less inner chatter, then maybe we don’t over-do it with external chatter. If we want to learn how to listen internally to our own thoughts, then we need to learn to listen to the thoughts of others too. If we would like to develop a softer, kinder and less judgmental attitude towards our own inner dialogue, then it is helpful to have this same approach towards others.

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