3 Meditations To Enhance Your Communication Skills
Meditation is a practice that helps us accept the present moment—no matter what's happening in it. It allows us to be more open and compassionate with ourselves and others and can change the way we communicate for the better. That's because by meditating (witnessing and accepting thoughts and coming back to a point of focus), we are learning not only to speak consciously, clearly, and concisely but also to become more responsive instead of reactive.
As outlined in my new book, How To Meditate Like a Buddhist, there are many meditations that can enhance your communication, but the following three will specifically help you approach others from a place of self-compassion, see things from another's perspective, and speak your truth.
Meditating to enhance self-compassion.
To truly be able to speak to others in a kind, honest, and helpful way, we must first learn to speak to ourselves like this. A great meditation to help cultivate a friendly and nonjudgmental voice is loving kindness meditation. This meditation fosters compassion for the self and others. There are different forms of this meditation, and the following uses phrases that you repeat silently first, to yourself, then to others, and later to the world.
How to do loving kindness meditation:
Choose two of the following phrases, whichever ones speak to you:
- May you know love.
- May you know joy.
- May you know peace.
- May you be free from suffering.
- May you live with ease.
With your eyes closed, start by offering your two chosen phrases to yourself. Sit for a minute, feeling what comes up for you. Then shift your attention and bring to mind someone you love. Notice what sensations or feelings arise when you see this person. Say your two phrases, again feeling what comes up for you.
Then shift your attention to someone you don't really know or feel neutral about and repeat the two phrases, letting yourself sit with the emotion rising. From there, picture all beings in the world and again repeat the two phrases.
Finish the meditation by coming back to yourself repeating the two phrases again as a blessing, then take a couple of deep breaths, and slowly open your eyes.
Meditating to see things from another person's perspective.
Tonglen, meaning "giving and taking" or "giving and receiving," is a meditation practice that stems from Tibetan Buddhism. It helps bring in suffering and let out compassion. That may sound strange, but by inviting suffering in, we are accepting hurt and our pain as a part of us. We aren't trying to get over it or push it to the side; we're saying yes to it. By feeling our own suffering, we are better able to honor the suffering of others.
How to do tonglen meditation:
Envision someone you know who is hurting, someone you want to help. On the inhale, imagine yourself in that person's situation, experiencing their fears, seeing the world through their eyes. Think about what they most need. Feel it fully, take it in so they may feel relief. On the exhale, imagine something that would bring them calm.
Meditating to balance or rebalance communication.
According to yoga philosophy, chakras are energy centers in the body that, when balanced, help us achieve inner and outer alignment. When out of balance, they're thought to create deficiencies in the mind and body. For the purpose of communication, we can focus on the Vishuddha or throat chakra, as it's the chakra associated with communication. When this chakra is balanced, you can express yourself easily and clearly and say just what you want and need. When it's out of alignment, you pretend everything is fine when it isn't, you don't believe what you feel is worthy, and you're either overly talkative or soft-spoken.
How to do a throat chakra meditation:
Lie down on your back and close your eyes. As you inhale, imagine your breath moving through all parts of your body. Now bring awareness to your throat. Does it feel dry, tight, clogged? Imagine you're inhaling a blue (the color of the throat chakra) light moving into your throat, and then exhale any feelings of discomfort or blackness. Then, repeat this process: Inhale blue light and exhale the tightness.
There are a number of reasons you may be having difficult communicating effectively, from lack of self-compassion to an unbalanced throat chakra. These meditations can help you find and share your authentic voice. But remember: Meditation is never accomplished, finished, or mastered. It's a practice that reminds us that at any point we can refocus, come back to our breath, and start again.
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Cynthia Kane is a certified meditation and mindfulness instructor dedicated to helping men and women change their communication routines so they feel in control of their words and understood at home and at work. She received her B.A. from Bard College and her MFA from Sarah Lawrence College. Her work has appeared in numerous publications, including the Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, Yoga Journal, Self Magazine, and Woman’s Day Magazine. She is the bestselling author of How to Communicate Like a Buddhist and Talk to Yourself Like a Buddhist, and founder of the Intentional Communication Institute. Kane has helped thousands of people change their way of communicating through her online courses, workshops, and certification program. She lives in Washington, DC with her husband and son.