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Mindfulness practices have been receiving more attention in recent years. Mindfulness is being present in the moment, fully aware without judgment. It allows you to be in the here and now with awareness of your mind and body.  We generally attribute mindfulness to stress reduction, a heightened feeling of calmness, and improved quality of life.

Mindful awareness begins with the most basic activities, such as breathing, eating, and walking.  I find it helpful to focus on the smaller practices we utilize in the everyday. Applying mindful awareness in communication allows for us to be cognizant of our patterns, how we feel when we engage with others, when we feel safe or feel afraid.  Noticing these patterns puts us in a position of control over our interactions with others.

Utilizing mindfulness in our conversations can send signals of when to stop, wait or go ahead.  We can utilize this awareness to improve our communication during a business meeting or in our personal lives.

The red, yellow and green lights of mindful communication

The red, yellow and green lights of mindful communication

Red light

When we are intimidated, closed off or defensive, our red light comes on. Our priorities move into all about ourselves and we stop using our communication skills to their full potential. And feeling closed off to others shuts down our ability to communicate effectively.  If we are aware of these defensive reactions, we can move from closed to open via the yellow light.

Yellow light

This is a state of being in limbo that allows us to move between the green and red lights, in between open and closed communication. We may find ourselves here when we are caught by surprise; we may feel disappointed, self conscious, or losing trust.  This period of transition allows us to decide which way to go, and it can affect a relationship in a positive or negative way.  Will you decide to shut down and become defensive or with a little mindful awareness, evoke curiosity and ask yourself why?  This state of awareness can lead to either sharing or withholding acts of kindness and open communication.

Green light

The green light is a state of awareness with open communication. We are able to trust, feel empathy and courage, relax and reflect. When we are open, our state of mind is about “we” and “us.”  The green light allows us to explore our connection with others, practice acts of kindness, share information, and learn from each other.

I remember as a kid, playing red light, green light.  I think of the game when I’m trying to maneuver mindfulness communication.  A red light is a moment for me to “freeze” and decide what my next move or communication will be. The feeling of “green light” lets me know it’s pretty safe to move forward.

Did someone yell “green light!”? [courtesy of chrisroll and freedigitalphotos.net]

Did someone yell “green light!”?

For more information about mindful communication or the Center for Work and Family Life, contact us at (213)821-0800.

Rachel 2by Rachel Plasencia, LCSW
Professional Staff at CWFL

rlplasen@usc.edu

Photo credit:
Boys Running courtesy of chrisroll at freedigitalphotos.net
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