Zen Blog

This blog collects various internet feeds aimed towards information, experience and technique exchange in support of our shared spiritual journey.....

”Namaste - may the light in me, honor the light in you…”

Being Mindful and Compassionate in Tough Conversations

We are amid so many shifts right now. Not only have we been confronted with a global pandemic, we’re also all being called to listen, learn, and take action in the fight against unnecessary pain and racial injustice. In the latest episode of Radically Loved with Rosie Acosta, Mindful Editor Anne Alexander explains that with this comes an increasing sense of shared responsibility.

But when others don’t show up in the ways that we want them to, can we offer them the understanding, grace, and generosity we give ourselves when we make mistakes?

How to Mindfully Approach Difficult Conversations

“The reality is we’re living in a world with sharp edges and grit and difficulty and pain and passion, confusion, and all of that stuff. And the real trick is to be able to have a sense of equanimity and respect,” Alexander says.

Communicating mindfully requires us to tap into empathy regardless of who we are or what we believe in. This can prove to be a challenge for anyone. It’s very difficult to express your point of view and hold someone else’s with grace, Alexander says. But we can engage in meaningful dialogue when coming to a conversation from a place of respect and recognition.

The Importance of Patience 

The most difficult conversations are often with the people who are closest to us. There is so much unspoken context and relationship history that adds layers to a tough conversation with a loved one. It is patience and mindfulness that allow us to see each other past deep divides, she says.

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Mindfulness for Kids

How to Meditate with Your Kids

By teaching children meditation and mindfulness skills we help them increase their well-being and enable them to meet the stresses of the world with presence, self-compassion, and openness.

In order to help kids of all ages find their way into practicing mindfulness, it can be helpful to give them an easy definition they can relate to.

A Definition of Mindfulness Meditation for Children

Mindfulness meditation, at its simplest, is paying attention to what is happening in the present moment. It may be what you’re feeling, hearing, or anything else you notice. There’s no special place of calm you have to reach and it’s not about clearing your mind, it’s just an honest and kind look at what you’re experiencing in this moment. 

A Mindfulness Practice for Families

One easy way to introduce mindfulness to your children is through informal practices that you can do along with them. Start with a simple kindness meditation—offering good wishes and compassion to others.

1. To begin, find a comfortable sitting position. You can even place a hand on the heart. Allow your eyes to close or lower your gaze toward the floor.

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What it Means to Have Clear Vision

You know those moments when things don’t go as planned—the job, the relationship, your health—and you feel unmoored and unsure of your next steps? Or, when things are going so well that there’s a sense of opportunity right at your fingertips? Those are the moments when having a clear sense of purpose can both anchor and guide you; it can also help you navigate the tricky in-between stages when your life feels a lot less clear, offering a sense of ease and skill and, dare I say, grace.

Uncovering your purpose is a process. In fact, I like to define purpose as an ongoing process of developing a clear understanding of what is most meaningful to you, and aligning your actions and behaviors in the world to be consistent with those qualities. It’s the skill of being in tune with your mind, heart, and body, so you can recognize when you’re about to stray from your path and find your way back on course. And, equally important, being clear can help you acknowledge those moments where your path and your purpose are aligned so you can celebrate them with gratitude.

The work of defining purpose is the work of becoming fully conscious of what you love and what is most alive within you and then acting accordingly.

Getting clear about your purpose is an internal practice of connecting with the sources of meaning, joy, and inspiration that reside deeply within you. The work of defining purpose is the work of becoming fully conscious of what you love and what is most alive within you and then (and this can be the hard part) acting accordingly. This work takes time, practice, imagination, compassion, curiosity, and kind awareness. It’s an evolving process, a beautiful and sometimes painful one, that you can be in relationship with over the arc of your whole life. 

How I connected to my purpose

About nine years ago, I began experiencing a vague sense that I was misaligned in my work. I found myself dreading work, rather than feeling excited or engaged by it. Bad work habits began creeping in—I would heavily procrastinate on projects, not be responsive to emails. The quality of my work began to suffer as well. And the most troubling sign of all—my attitude and personality also began changing. I was no longer energetic and excited about work, instead a dullness took over and I became more and more stressed. This was especially problematic because I managed a team of people and my mood changes became increasingly apparent and affected some of them in negative ways.  

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A 6-Minute Practice to Softly Focus Our Awareness

Often we use the sensation of the breath as an anchor in meditation. However, focusing on the sounds around you can also be a comforting way to ground yourself. Try this guided practice to gently focus awareness when in need of a moment of calm.

1. Let’s start by bringing our primary attention to the sounds in the room, wherever you are. Right now I’m hearing a clock somewhere. A window is open where I am, so I’m also hearing some birds. 

2. Notice any thoughts that arise. While I’m listening to the sounds in the room, I’m not blocking the thoughts and emotions that come up.

I think of this kind of like driving a car: My primary attention is on the road in front of me, but I’m still aware of what’s happening in my peripheral vision, what’s happening in my rearview mirror, and if I have kids in the back seat of the car, what’s happening there.

Our primary attention is on sound, but we don’t block the thoughts and emotions that show up, we just don’t get caught up in them.

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