What was that you said?

“I didn’t list listening as one of my skills, probably because I didn’t hear what the interviewer asked.
―Jarod Kintz, This book Title is Invisible 

“What did I just miss in this conversation while my mind was elsewhere? Oh, no I have no idea what they said!  What are we are currently discussing? I got lost in thought! Now I still can’t hear what they’re saying because I’m so busy worrying about what they said a few minutes ago! Arrrggghhh!”

I’ve noticed that I sometimes have an issue being “in the moment” when I am having conversations, sitting at a lecture or especially when I am introduced to someone and they tell me their name. I just can’t seem to listen. My mind is too loud and very adament that I hear it’s every thought. Does this happen to you? I find it to be incredibly rude and I tend to really berate myself for my lack of attention on the other person – which only takes more time away from the other person’s part in our dialogue. I haven’t always been this way. I used to really hear people but recently my inner dialogue is doing everything it can to distract me from the present. I want to be present. I want my life now, in this moment, to hold more weight than my past or my future. I want to listen, to really hear.

I’m reluctant to set goals for this meditation challenge (for that matter, I am reluctant to call this practice a “challenge” because I see it more as the beginning of a journey) but if I may set one tiny goal, for my overall practice and not just this challenge, it would be to help me be more present for the 23.6 hours of the day that I am not meditating (okay 15 -16 hours leaving my sleeping mind to fend for itself in there).

Today’s meditation was a bit more distracted, my mind a bit louder and my energy a bit lower. I sat for 25 minutes this time, remembering how much I had wanted to sit for longer yesterday. 5 minutes more can’t make that much of a difference I thought – FYI 25 minutes felt about 30 minutes longer than yesterday’s practice. It is a little like running. You are out of the habit so it takes a lot of preparation and motivation to go out there for the first time, but once you are out there you feel like a superstar athlete! So you go out again a day or two later and your second run reminds you that sometimes running really sucks. Once you are in the swing of things though, you get into a rhythm. I am proud of sitting and breathing today. Returning to the breath, and returning to the breath, and returning to the breath over and over again whenever I trailed off on a thought. I am glad that despite the distractions today I still want to come back tomorrow and try again. And I am happy to report that I am noticing when I get distracted in my interactions with others and I am focusing without spiraling into panic. I am still distracted but maybe the noticing and calm reminders to look in their eyes and hear their words is a step in the right direction.

Now, what was that you were saying?



4 responses to “What was that you said?

  1. i have the same problems with names! it’s like everything else in the conversation can be crystal clear to me, but i’ll be damned if i can remember their name! this is particularly problematic when i then have to introduce this person to someone else. what makes it worse is that i used to be so good at remembering names. i think maybe our minds (or at least my mind) become so concerned with what’s coming next, where the conversation might be going, that we forget to pay attention to some of the most important details.

    • I agree! I’m either worried about what was just said or anticipating the next thing and the name seems to disappear into thin air! For me the problem is definitely presence.
      Although I only know you as cjokaly, it is nice to meet you and I promise to remember your name!

  2. Here’s a story to make you feel better: Years ago I was at a conference where my boss was presenting about work we’d been collaborating on. She said something about the timeline of the work, which sent my mind spinning out about my life (was I staying in that job, changing careers, moving???). Next thing I knew I heard her saying to the room of hundreds of people: I think I’ll let Adina answer that question. I had no idea what the question was! I had no choice but to ask them to repeat the question, but by then I was in such a state of panic that I couldn’t pay attention to it or focus enough to give a coherent answer. I was totally mortified.

    I don’t think I had any concept then of how weak my concentration skills were, or that there was a practice available to improve it. But there is, and we’re doing it!

    Thanks for another great post 🙂

  3. I’m hoping this is who I think you are 🙂 Remember that meditation, just like running, can have no rhyme or reason to when 1 hour feels like 5 minutes or 5 minutes feels like an hour. You can be practicing for 10 years and then have a sit that feels like the very first sit you’ve ever had…. at least, that happens to me all the time. And I always hope that those times I can see myself with humour, how cocky I let myself become 🙂

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