I’ve started a mindfulness course at work (which I’ve titled “Mindfulness@Work”), which I’ve used to download what I’ve learnt over the years as a meditator, and to share best practices.

An interesting thing happened on Wednesday, when we did the “mindful listening exercise” (which I took from Chade Meng’s Search Inside Yourself, which is incidentally a very good book which I highly recommend for beginners & working professionals). For those who’ve not done this, the mindful listening exercise involves 3 mins of just listening, with acknowledgement & nodding, without any interruptions whatsoever.

After the class, I asked if there were any comments/feedback. The first comment that came about was from a young man, who said, “It feels unnatural. It’s like, when you hear someone say something, you naturally want to ask a question but you’re not allowed to.”

Me: OK. So when you’re thinking of a question, are you listening?

Young Man: Yes, yes, I’m able to do both at the same time… but I can’t ask the question. Can I?

Me: No, you can’t. But let me ask, can you really do both things at the same time?

Young man: Yes!

Me: Actually, there are studies that show that you can’t really multitask, but instead your mind is just switching very quickly between tasks. (In fact, even just #2secondglance could make a huge difference when driving, as per the latest driving safety campaign video.)

So, when you say you’re both thinking the question and also listening, let me ask: are you listening to what’s being said, or listening to the question in your head?

I think that got through to him, because he then went “Hmm”.

So, are you really listening, or are you listening to the voice in your head?

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