How to pay attention non-judgmentally
Despite the word Mediation being only one letter different from the word meditation you might not think that they have much in common. The reality is that for the practitioner there are many similarities.
Mindfulness Meditation has been described as:
‘Purposefully paying attention in the moment in a non-judgmental way to what is going on in your body, mind and in the world around you.’
This is how to develop mindfulness but it is also describes some of the key elements needed for effective mediation.
Purposefully paying attention
Paying attention is the starting point for a mediator but this is different from ‘paying attention’ to a teacher- perhaps hearing what is being said but day dreaming and thinking of other things. This is about being present with the person or persons in front of you.
Listening to what is being said but also to what is not being said – seeing, sensing, feeling, being fully involved.
Paying attention non-judgmentally
As a mediator you strive to pay attention non-judgmentally. This is easier said than done. The way to act non-judgmentally is to recognise and acknowledge your own judgments.
Notice what and when you are judging. We all judge all the time, we just need to be clear what those judgments are so that they don’t unconsciously impact our approach or prevent us from hearing what is really being said.
What is going on in your body?
Our bodies are often more sensitive than our minds, tightening muscles, holding breath, changes in temperature, discomfort and ease are all giving us valuable messages if we are available to hear them.
What is going on in your mind?
Listening effectively begins with listening to yourself, recognising the difference between your own inner commentary and the words you are hearing. Recognise your own judgments, distractions and agendas but accept and let go of them. Be as non-judgmental as you are striving to be towards others.
What is going on in the world around you?
In mediation your focus is primarily on another person or people.
What is happening for them? What are their comfort or discomfort levels? How are they feeling and responding to the situation they find themselves in? What are they at ease with, what is difficult for them?
A Mediator responds
For the meditator paying attention non-judgmentally in the moment, is the whole focus. The mediator also needs to respond to and interact with the participants in the mediation.
The more the mediator can practise paying attention non-judgmentally in every day life the easier it will be to do so during mediation sessions and the purer and less judgmental the response will be.
Understanding this allows for personal development and as a result growth as a mediator.