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  • Writer's pictureColin Eveleigh

The Difference Between Socialising and Mindful Sharing

Over the years I've learned a thing or two about sharing mindful and not so mindful moments regarding ordinary everyday life. For example, when groups of people get together there is a natural tendency to want to socialise ~ obviously! In conversation, we easily fall into social chit-chat and discussion. It's not something we're all comfortable with, but it's what we do. When chatting and catching up, we talk about anything and everything. Sometimes the conversations are based on personal experiences and often they're focussed on topics we've heard about, read or seen that we want to discuss as a kind of commentary or critique on some aspect of life. Whether it's just having fun or playing "A'int it awful?", the emphasis tends to be on telling stories and anecdotes harmlessly elaborated or unconsciously fabricated for effect, layered with opinions, debate, discussion, the display of knowledge and all sorts of interesting ~ or sometimes dull and dubious facts. Why do we do this? I guess it's the SELF 'oiling the wheels'. I mean chatting is a way of confirming and reifying the SELF isn't it? In social situations my image of myself is constantly checked, validated and reflected back to me in the mirror of how others react and respond to me. It's what helps us to have the sense we have of ourselves that we are liked and needed (hopefully) and this in turn may help us to feel as if we belong and are valued and that we matter. All this is vitally important to our sense of SELF ~ to the mind. It's how we form an impression (correct or otherwise) of our own value and 'what makes me ME'. For the SELF, read survival. We need to do this, we need to survive ~ it's normal and we hope to get it right!

Whether face-to-face or in writing, mindful sharing is a bit different. When we share mindfully, I think we are inviting ourselves to risk being really genuinely and authentically open and present for and with one another. Aware of whatever we're thinking and feeling in the moment ~ aware of the needs and connectedness of self and other. We are not there to perform, display knowledge or help in any way ~ we're not there to solve life's problems and issues.... we are breathing and being mindful. There is a sense of being there, showing up. Being present. We are there for ourselves and one another to Notice, Observe and Witness. The side-benefit (not the goal) of this sharing mindfully, is that we really listen to ourselves and others properly and in so doing, this in itself helps us to understand ourselves a little better. In this way we can lean gently towards owning, accepting and resolving our own problems, or allowing them to resolve themselves ~ if they can ~ or just as they will. When we share mindfully, openly, honestly and directly we are just putting out there everything the mind has experienced with all the senses, plus the accompanying thoughts and feelings. There is no deliberate editing or second-guessing of what we think others want to hear, or aiming to convey how 'good' or 'not so good' we are at being mindful. There is no edge. Moreover, I believe that when we are mindful, we share true experiences of the mind common to everyone. We're just saying "This is my mind ~ this is what it's like in ordinary everyday life to be me."

Obviously, both social and mindful forms of sharing help us to build and sustain relationships. They both can be of value and I think we definitely need them both. Perhaps I'm kidding myself though, in thinking that we need the mindful sharing more than anything. Maybe what people really want and need is just to connect in the normal socially acceptable, friend-building/bonding, acknowledging, supporting and sustaining way ~ not the mindful stuff at all. Why would we need anything else? Meeting online or in person socially to chat, catch up and console one another about all sorts of life's dramas, has got to be excellent and a vital part of staying safe, well and sane. It helps us moderate suffering and it helps us to distract ourselves from some of the harsh realities of life with which we are faced. However, there's no getting away from it, the social stuff is generally not very mindful. I do think that mindful sharing is a vitally important dimension ~ it's the one in which we are truly being mindful. Sharing mindfully helps us to turn towards everything, to face up to the realities of life. It feels so different to me ~ it feels like coming home.

Apart from the sharing, I really enjoy the writing ~ I see it as an integral part of being mindful. Somehow, it helps me to make sense of everything I/we say, do and feel ~ everything we experience.... (and others have told me that they appreciate the written recollections and reflections too) ~ Thanks! I've always got plenty to share myself about ordinary everyday life direct experiences, and I'm mindful that there may be someone somewhere who will benefit ~ I think we can all benefit from sharing. So I will continue to share mindfully. I think the whole point of sharing ~ whether it's by me or anyone else ~ is that if we are being mindful. In this way of seeing things, what we share, amounts to the common experiences of the mind for everyone in everyday life; in other words things we all experience. That's got to help us to see that we are not alone ~ hasn't it?

As well as reading the blog you're very welcome to get in touch and share with me at any time ~ please do. Hopefully if you read and re-read the recollections and reflections, you will gain a better understanding of what it is to be mindful in everyday life. It's not a journey, there's nowhere to go and nothing to achieve. I'm just inviting you to see and experience for yourself the value of Noticing, Observing and Witnessing all there is for the mind to be aware of. Being mindful ~ being alive!

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