Relating Mindfully in a Time of Social Distance

Guest post by Midwest Alliance for Mindfulness teacher Cathan Kabrelian

In this time of uncertainty and social distancing, the ability to relate to one another mindfully is more important than ever. While we are encouraged to keep our physical distance, every call, text, email, and other means of communication is ripe with the opportunity to make a meaningful connections. Without mindfulness, without presence, without the intention to listen deeply and open ourselves to be changed by what we hear, we may find ourselves feeling lonely and anxious, despite the barrage of technological communications.

Mindful communication is a practice of cultivating deeper, more meaningful connections in all of our relationships, both near and far. I invite you to think of a recent conversation which was uncomfortable, unsatisfying, or lacking real connection. Perhaps you were attempting to relate to someone how hard it is to stay calm and grounded in the midst of so much chaos. Maybe this person just delved right in to their own worries or challenges without first pausing to offer you empathy and compassion for your pain. Or maybe it was the other way around? Are you finding it difficult to hear about other people’s anxieties while steeped in your own struggles?

All of these responses are natural when we are faced with stressful situations. Yet we can practice leading with presence, being curious about what really matters, and creatively exploring strategies to meet our needs while offering empathy and compassion for all. You are welcome to bring to our mindful relationships practice meetings examples of  difficult conversations so that we can practice making observations rather than judgments, explore the underlying needs of both parties, and imagine how the conversation might go with moment-by-moment presence and an intention to connect to a shared humanity. It will be like having the opportunity for a do-over!

I invite you, your family, and your friends to join us in making lemonade out of lemons as you navigate your relationships in these strange times. Perhaps one of the many silver linings in our current cloud cover will be the determination of many to work harder and smarter (in other words, more mindfully) to make all types of communication more meaningful. May you be healthy, may you have what you need, and may you take the moment-by-moment opportunity to nurture your relationships.

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