Communication is the key to understanding
What was the last conversation you had about? What was it like? Was it a positive or negative one? Do you regret some of the things that you said, or maybe the things that you didn’t say?
Communication is such a vital part of our everyday lives, yet half of the time we are barely present in the exchange. Sometimes, we are distracted, others we are waiting for our turn to speak and yet still there are times when we are too emotional to speak. Perhaps we shouldn’t at times.
In any relationship, there will be ups and downs. In all manners of relationships, we have with others there will be tense times when communication breaks down and things get bumpy. This is most notably true in our personal and romantic relationships.
What do we do in those moments when the right words elude us and beautiful poetry is cut by bitter, biting banter? How can we avoid these regretful exchanges or better yet, how can we avoid them in the first place?
Communication is the key to understanding, yet most often times, a lack of understanding is what leads to a lapse in communication. However, this circular fallacy can all be avoided.
Remaining calm and present in our love
Most arguments happen it seems, when one or both parties are distracted or not fully open and present in the interaction. Whether it is because we are caught up in the grinding wheel of life or our vision and attention become cloudy from anger or hurt, this disconnection in the fog makes it hard to remain present and ready to receive.
In order to remain willing and able to participate in a healthy and rational conversation, we must figure out a way to remain present in our loving presence. At times, this can be difficult. It can seem impossible to stay calm and clear headed when the pain we are feeling is urging us to protest.
Yet, it is in these blurry moments we must focus extra intensely on what it is we need to do to mend the rift between our partner and ourselves. Still, how do we remind ourselves to be rational when there really isn’t a rational nerve in our body?
The Mindfulness Bell
Thich Nhat Hahn speaks in a few of his books about keeping a bell of mindfulness in the home. In fact, there is even an app for that called “The Bell of Mindfulness” available on google play for Android users and I’m sure there is one for you i-phone folks as well.
In his book, Peace is Every Step, Thich Nhat Hahn speaks of this bell and how it works. When we are angry, our attention is diverted from the present moment and we are caught up in a typhoon of emotional overthinking where one thought leads to another and another and another.
Pretty soon, even if we are seated across the table from our love, in our minds we are lightyears apart, separated by our hurt-ness or our anger. Conversations go from tense to angry and spiral out of control and this cycle will continue if left unchecked. This is where the bell of mindfulness comes into play.
- When we fight, if we could only have something to bring us back from our distant jabs and insults, something to remind us that there is a better way to handle moments like these. <DING!>
- When the bell is sound, it is a reminder for us to take a moment and self-observe. It is aa moment where the fighting should pause, and like boxers, at the end of the round we should separate to our respective “corners”. However, instead of getting pumped up for round 2 we should focus on calming our raging spirit and return inward.
- If either we or our partner rings the bell there should be not another word spoken for a period of 5 minutes or more afterward. This is time for us to scan our behavior, our words, and why we feel the way we do as we focus on our breathing.
- When the agreed upon time is up, we then can calmly and safely return to the conversation with a clear head and an open heart. The fear and pain now subsiding we can see our partner in a better light. If the allotted time is up and we do not feel ready to return yet, we may ring the bell a second time.
When we take a moment to focus on our own emotions and examine them, we may find that our anger or hurt is unjustified. If so, this saves a lot of back and forth. If we can take those mindful minutes to remember what we are doing and who we are speaking with, our conversation flows more freely.
Being present isn’t always easy, but it is always easier to deal with life’s little bumps if we are present.