COMMUNICATION AND CLARITY
Aspects of Communication
To find contentment in our daily life means that we attend to all aspects of our daily life. We practise and develop the skills to abide with clarity and dedication to the day. Some believe that the motor for action is tension, stress and anxiety, otherwise we would procrastinate they claim. That may be the experience of some people. It would seem a pity to abide in stress and anxiety to force ourselves to do things. We can achieve significant benefits through making small changes in the way we experience the day. Our attitude and relationship to what we do matter as much as our responsibilities.
Meditation on “work”
The word “work” can bring immediate resistance. “Oh, I’ve got so much work to do.” “I hate this job.” “My life is going from one task to another.” Others think. “I’m unemployed. I really want to work. I’ve got nothing to do all day.” Such people have inner pressure around the very concept “work.” There is often an emotional and psychological baggage around the word. We can drop the concept “work” and view the totality of our each day differently. Method: Begin the day with formal meditation. Give extra attention to letting go of thought about tasks for the day. Drop the language of “work” from your speech. Regard the day as a moment to moment unfolding activity rather than going from one task to another. Such a practice helps break down the investing and compounding of “work” in the mind. We easily get caught up in reactivity around starting work, ending work, finding work, losing work. Too much work. Not enough work. These perceptions fragment the day. We practice to meditate to experience the fullness of each day rather than a divisive view of it.
The way we communicate affects the quality of our lives and the lives of others. We can bring clarity and contentment to a situation or confusion and resentment. We may think that yelling abuse at another (s) may get them to wake up. Our bullying tactics may succeed temporarily. As time goes by, such a strategy becomes less and less effective. The audience for our reactivity either withdraw or become resentful. When we become determined to get our position across to another(s), we lose sight of important considerations. These include
If we are out of tune with any of the above points, it may be difficult to reach a mutual understanding in any important conversation. For example, we might seek somebody’s advice but he or she lacks clarity and a balanced view of a situation. This means we have not chosen the right person. Or in another case, we have some issues with a loved one. We want to resolve the problem but it’s unwise to start an intimate communication late at night when the other person is tired and just wants to go to bed. Wrong time. No matter how fired up we might be. We might then aggravate conflict and misunderstanding.
There are six aspects of communication worth paying attention to. If we are mindful to cultivate and develop all of them, they become a daily meditation.
1 Awareness. Be aware of the detail and general experience of the event, related circumstances and our behaviour in it. We remember to speak as accurately as possible if we wish to be listened to. To inflame or deflate a situation is unfair for the listener. It is a practice to be able to relate what happened, or is happening, or what will happen, in a language which is honest, clear and precise as much as possible. We reflect what we receive.
2 Feelings. Are our feelings pleasant, painful or somewhere in between. We might need to begin our communication with “I feel…”. Otherwise, we might make claims that we are speaking an absolute or objective truth. We may not even realise what we are saying is simply the way we feel about a situation.
3 Thoughts. Various thoughts probably occur before an important communication. Our thoughts may have tried to interpret what the other person(s) will say but communications often don’t work out as planned. We need a clear, steady mind as much as possible. We also need to be aware of the thoughts arising during the communication. If we cannot listen to another, there is little chance of the other person listening to us. Trying to impose our thoughts upon another often brings resistance or submissiveness, not understanding. Those who have a submissive attitude in times of difficulty may later resent the pressure from the other person.
4 Intentions and Motivations. What do we want from the communication? Are we reasonable? Are our intentions coloured with desires, projects and fantasies? If so, we may not realise how out of touch two people or more can become with each other. It requires much self-honesty to be aware of our intentions. Are we showing wisdom and kindness, or looking to satisfy our ego, or hurt the feelings of another?
5 Investment in Results. If there is a lot of personal investment in getting our own way, there is little chance of reaching agreement. If attached to getting a certain result, we become increasingly out of touch with the process itself. Attachment to results easily produces fear and anger. Mindful communication is one of the areas of requiring much attention. More suffering arises because of conflicts in the present than unresolved childhood problems from the past. Meaningful communication takes place in a safe and supportive environment.
6 I and My. We need to be aware of the strength, frequency and attitude arising in the communication. I” and “my”. Does the other person (s) have equal opportunity to speak? It isn’t unusual for people to find it rather tedious to listen to someone who is doing little else but talk about themselves or their particular views and opinions on a situation. Some people in small groups wait to be asked to speak rather than initiating communication. A primary value in communication is that we treat others as we wish to be treated.
Mindful communication is a daily practice. Like formal meditation, it requires attention, interest and a capacity to learn. Desire for attention, need for approval, wanting to convince another of our position and unsatisfactory and inconsiderate claims inhibit mutual understanding. If we neglect attention to these issues we create suffering for ourselves and others. The consequences often become long term. When we indulge in lies, gossip, back-biting, slander and unskilful speech we also unsettle the minds of ourselves and others. One foolish remark can deeply upset a sensitive person.
We develop communication skills to overcome nervousness, impatience, confusion and ums and ahs and yer knows that can make us sound unsure of ourselves. We may need to make it clear to another if we find what we are listening to is unacceptable or irrelevant. There is little point in listening to a litany of somebody’s negativities. In an intense meeting, mindfulness of breathing becomes an additional resource to sustain calmness and clarity. It is helpful afterwards as well. Far better than going over and over what was said. Let us never forget this.
For example, we are sitting waiting for our flight. There is plenty of activity – flight announcements, people coming and going and the buzz of activity. Our listening meditation attends to all types of sound – namely, voices, machinery and nature. We listen to the space between sounds. The sounds come to our ears. Vibrations touch the body. Some sounds enter our being and have a noticeable impact on our feeling life stimulating various distinguishable feelings.
These feelings arise and fall. In an open, spacious and receptive mode of listening, the sounds can pass right through us. It seems as though we are transparent. There is the throb of all around. We are an empty form that is not disturbing such activity. There is no need for any special reason or motivation for the listening. The act of listening is reason enough. We are not listening for pleasure nor for obligation. There is simply the presence of the listening itself – an all-embracing awareness of moment to moment existence.