Communication suffers in a society addicted to busyness. Yet we continue to accelerate our fast-track mode of living to an unprecedented level and the result is a sharp decline in true communication. The deeper meaning of communicate is to “join with,” and when we are joined with another human being there is no separation between us. Our spirits touch and there is a knowing beyond words – a joining of souls. Communication that is deeply intimate can only be invited without rush or hurry.
And yet our society seems to have made a collective agreement to abandon true communication. We’ve created a rush, push, shove culture that gets in the way of being attentive to each other. The result leaves us and our children unfulfilled and starved for communication that nurtures our spirits.
A conversation on the phone with a friend is punctuated by call waiting. Mothers wait outside of school talking on cell phones and to each other at the same time. Family members ‘talk’ to each other over the T.V., video games, and the Internet. In all instances, our attention is split. We are talking at each other rather than communicating.
To join with another person requires total attention and total attention comes from being fully present. A young child has not yet been conditioned to split his attention. When she is swinging on a swing, or eating an ice cream cone, she’s not thinking about yesterday or tomorrow. She is only swinging on the swing or eating the ice cream cone. She is fully present with what she is doing. If you join with her, fully attentive, that shared moment of true communication will uplift both of you and tell your child that she is profoundly loved.
Young children know instantly when adults are not ‘fully present with them.’ Our words may say one thing to them, but they feel another. In their innocence, they accept our absenteeism and over time come to expect inattention as the adult way of communicating. But it tears at a child’s heart. For, when a child continually experiences a lack of presence from those they love, it erodes the heartfelt connection they need to flourish. The result is a feeling of separation for both parent and child. There is a growing sadness in everyone. Something doesn’t feel right. As everyone retreats to different corners of the house to watch videos, play video games and talk on cell phones, our feeling of closeness is severed. Everyone’s entertained, but do they touch?
We can make a commitment to become more present in our own lives by practicing meditation and mindfulness in our everyday activities. By becoming mindful we will feel whether our energy is fully present in our bodies, and we’ll know when our thoughts are scattered and fragmented. We’ll begin to notice our lack of peace when we let our minds dwell in the past or race into the future. Meditation and mindfulness help us stay present and nourish us from deep within. By learning how to slow down, we’ll have more energy to listen attentively to each other so that heartfelt communication can begin. In that stillness we are reminded:
Peace cannot be found
in the mind of empty action.
There is only one place
where love abides,
and brings us together
It is a place of sacred time
where hearts dwell and
know themselves beyond,
the rush of everyday life.
Stop there and
taste its sweetness.
(excerpt from Wisdom’s Children)