This post is about the greatest gift you can give someone that you care about and also one of the greatest pillars that any meaningful relationship can stand on. This post is inspired by a lecture that I recently listened to by Thich Nhat Hahn, a Buddhist zen-master.
In his lecture, he gives an example of a very rich, but very busy father and the birthday wish of his son. The father asks his son what his son would like to receive for his birthday, no matter at which cost. The son hesitates to give a response, because he wants nothing else than for his father just to be present, which probably is too much to ask. To make a long story short, the best things in life just can’t be bought.
The gift of being present, through mindfulness, is something you can give in any kind of relationship. A romantic, friendly, or even professional relationship can truly benefit of mindful presence. With mindful presence, I mean that you are not living in the past, the future or completely somewhere else in your thoughts, it means you are fully in the present moment, with your mind and body. By giving this mindful presence, you can really observe the other person and be aware of their needs and understand them better. It shows them that you are truly there for them. So many people are not truly present when they are interacting with their loved ones, and this does damage relationships. Because if you are not mindfully present, you really aren’t present at all, leaving the other person to feel lonely in your presence for example.
So here are two steps, to really being mindful when interacting in any relationship and to show the other, we are truly there for them:
- Really listen to what someone has to say, without mixing in your own thoughts and feelings. Try to listen as if you are them, put yourself in their shoes, so you can understand them even better.
- Really look at the other person, show that you have full attention for them. I don’t mean staring…because that is also not about being present.
If you are trying to strengthen a bond with someone, you could give this a try for a little while, and see how it changes the relationship in a good way. In the end, we all want to be listened to, we all want to feel understood, supported and not judged, especially by the people that mean so much to us. It actually is a pretty basic and simple concept that really makes sense to me and hopefully to others as well.