Empty your mind. Be formless, shapeless, like water. — Bruce Lee
How does it feel to have a conversation with someone who half listening to you?
If you want to form deep and meaningful relationships, learn presence. A better word for mindfulness is loving presence. The Buddha, a masterful teacher, sometimes used the image of water to teach the five hindrances to meditation.
Imagine you are having a conversation with someone you care about — a friend, a partner, or a child. You want to be present, but you are suffering from one of the five hindrances.
Imagine this, someone is telling you about their day. What is your hindrance to presence?
Your phone vibrates in your pocket. You resist, but you realize that you have a nagging urge to take a quick peak.
You'd rather be some place else. The water in another place seems warm, calm, and inviting.
You get annoyed while you are listening to the story. You think of a difficult situation from your day. You worry about a project that you need to finish.
The water is boiling.
The story is getting long. You are ready to move on. You have a lot of things that you want to say. You have an urge to cut the other person off.
The water is choppy and churning.
You are struggling to stay interested in the topic. You are trying to listen, but you are getting bored.
The water is putrid and stagnate.
You're not sure why the person is telling you this story. You feel confused. You don't know how to relate or respond to the conversation.
The water is muddy water and opaque.
If you want powerful presence, know what blocks you. Then you can determine the most skillful next action. You might find calm water through breathing or focusing your attention. You might reflect to the other person what you are hearing. Finally, with care and kindness, you might choose courage and tell the truth of what you are experiencing.