One of the most important teachings from indigenous culture is to always remain close to nature. This is particularly important in our modern technology-driven world in which things move at an increasingly rapid pace. When we move at the pace of technology, of being continually plugged into our devices, everything moves quickly and we become conditioned to constant sensory input.
Nature moves at a much slower pace. There is no judgment, no comparison, no hierarchy, and no anxiety in nature. Nature flows as a gentle stream, bending gracefully around obstructions and smoothing hard edges over time through continual yielding.
A rapidly paced life conditions our minds to move quickly and to be fed continually. The more time we spend in nature, the more we slow down to meld with the pace of nature, although not when we bring our electronic devices with us. The time we need in nature is to unplug and just be.
This is how we condition our minds to a more peaceful state. Regular meditation is another important way in which we slow down and quiet our minds. Even better still is to meditate in nature, which is precisely what indigenous people have been doing for many thousands of years. Their ceremonies are lengthy so as to transport the participants to a trans-like state in which the mind shuts down, so too with Sufi dancing, Buddhist chants, African drumming, or singing spiritual songs.
What does this have to do with better communication? Quite possibly everything. It’s long been understood that good listening skills lead to effective communication. What gets in the way of us listening more deeply is the busyness of the mind.
Do we listen to respond to what the other person is saying?
Do we categorize or analyze what the other person is saying?
Do we empathize or sympathize or take sides?
Do we judge the person?
Do we listen with a closed mind?
Do we think about the load of laundry that needs to go in the dryer, or the carton of eggs we need to pick up on the way home, or the bill we forgot to pay, or who was that who just texted me?
Do we listen to just listen?
Do we listen to be in the space of another person?
Do we listen to feel the essence of another person and strive to see the world as they do?
Do we listen out of respect and love?
Do we listen to learn and understand?
Do we listen with and open heart?
Quieting the mind and coming to a place of peace leads us to better communication. It leads us there because we have shut out all the distraction and clutter that comes between us and the other person. In this space the only thing that remains is to capture the essence of what is being conveyed.