I love a juicy conversation. A long-overdue conversation with an old friend where,we update each other on the big stuff since we last talked.  A quick check-in every few days with my sister who lives in New York. A creative, generative conversation with a colleague.  An unexpectedly deep conversation that shifts an acquaintance into a new friendship.

What a miracle it is for humans to be able to express ourselves in language, to share our internal thoughts, to put our ideas, feelings, dreams into words, and then to have those words mean something to others. 

The thing is though, some conversations feel really hard, even (or especially) with people we love. Whenever you’re negotiating boundaries, or when emotions get hot, or you’re unsure of our positioning or there’s a weird power differential, have you ever noticed that your body reacts to hard conversations? When I feel my heart thumping or hear my voice shaking or see my hands getting jittery, that’s when I know something is going on.  I can tell myself to take a deep breath, and then what?  Ten seconds later, I’m losing my focus again.  The pit in my stomach comes back and I don’t even know what’s coming out of my mouth!   When we don’t pause to speak from our hearts we can get caught up in blaming others or insisting that our emotions should be everyone else’s responsibility.  

It turns out that there’s a mindful way to communicate.  One that helps you speak in a way that you feel heard and focuses on peaceful methods of getting what you legitimately want and need.  It reminds me of the words at the closing of the Amidah prayer,  יִהְיוּ לְרָצוֹן אִמְרֵי פִי

which means “may the words of my mouth be for a purpose.”  It takes intention to stay centered in both prayer and in conversation.  

I recently read a book called Say What You Mean:  by Oren Jay Sofer.   The book is about leading with presence and pausing to bring our full selves into each interaction.  It emphasizes how important it is to come from a place of curiosity and care (especially in hard conversations), validating and focusing on meeting our needs so that we are fulfilled instead of frustrated by our communications.  From a heart-centered approach, we can be aware of our own intentions and our interpretations of others’.  This book has been a game-changer for me!   

Want to talk about mindful communication or anything else that’s hard?  Email me and let’s find a time to have coffee or go for a walk or sit on the comfy couches of The Soul Center!  

From my soul to yours,
Naomi

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