”The most precious gift we can offer others is our presence. When mindfulness embraces those we love, they will bloom like flowers.”Thích Nhất Hạnh
It can be incredibly frustrating when you are having a conversation and are left with the frustration that comes with feeling that something is missing. Perhaps it turned into an argument. Perhaps there’s the sadness that comes with feeling misunderstood. You wanted to share a message or an experience that somehow missed the mark.
I want to show you how you can quickly create a presence that will lead to clear communication that will leave you both with a sense that you care, understand and are understood. There is a satisfying feeling of peace, connection, and possibility.
The key is Mindful Curiosity. The Zen Master Thích Nhất Hạnh says “”The most precious gift we can offer others is our presence. When mindfulness embraces those we love, they will bloom like flowers.” He calls this “Deep Listening”.
Curiosity helps you remain soft and receptive. It helps you establish a mindful presence with ease. You don’t need to “try” to be present…you automatically, naturally are. While you may have a message to transmit, you are also deeply interested in the other person’s experience and perspective. And without even trying, you happen to be fully mindful, attentive, and present. You are calm and there is a relaxed sense of inquiry to the interaction. There is a feeling of connection and wonder. You are not so intent on making your point that you ignore the other person’s concerns or perspective. And we’re not just talking about the content, but the feeling behind the words as well.
If I’m curious about what someone has to say, then I am trying to understand. I am clarifying what I heard the other person say to make sure I got it right. I am listening in between the lines. I am fully present because their words and gestures are not filtered by my agenda or need to be heard. And then, I find that they too are willing to listen. We are not defending our views and trying to convince each other (that typically deteriorates into an argument). We are wondering what is meant without out jumping to conclusions. And then again, I am clarifying to understand and I feel connected and interested.
And if I am presenting my views, I am interested in what you think as well. And you sense that interest, that respect, and the curiosity. It feels like I am with you, I am here. There is no need for either of us to defend, because right and wrong is not as important as simply understanding. Yes, we can press out point, but with respect and care.
If this communication has more to do with providing support, comfort or encouragement, then again, you can just remain curious, wondering about how the other person is feeling or thinking. Just listening and wondering what you will discover. And they end up feeling like they have company, like you care and understand.
And as Thích Nhất Hạnh said “…they will bloom like flowers.” Here you are not so much giving advice, as being present and trusting that they can see clearly if given the caring space to do so. And typically once they have some calm (which your curious, open presence encourages), they will find the clarity they need to sort things out. If they ask for advice, you give it as an option to consider…without the need for them to act on it. And they are more receptive as a result.
So your cultivation of mindful presence is accomplished by simply being curious. And communication becomes connected and clear.
by Michael Gusack