How to Manage Your Emails Mindfully

People are often less mindful with email than they are with face to face communication. Computer screens have the tendency of creating a “zoned out” state. Yet, mindfulness in emails can be very important – in fact, it can be even more important than mindfulness in face to face communication.

Why? Because in emails, the receiver is acting on incomplete information. You don’t have all the nonverbal cues telling you what the other person is really trying to communicate. When you’re reading an email, it’s easy to misread a person’s intentions – and see an attack or criticism, where there wasn’t one. Likewise, when sending an email, it’s easy to send an email that’s received harsher than it was meant to be.

Mindful emailing can help prevent both of these situations. Mindful emailing means staying connected to yourself during the email process, as well as staying connected to the fact that you’re communicating with another human being.

 

 

Mindfulness can improve email communication

 

You don’t have to practice mindfulness every time you open an email. However, practicing mindfulness during charged or potentially heated email exchanges can go a long way towards diffusing tensions and preserving relationships.

Developing Mindful Habits for Reading & Sending Emails

When you notice heat, anger or defensiveness arising during an email exchange, pause for a moment. Then go through this meditation process.

Take a Conscious Breath. Take a few moments to just pay attention to your breath. This can help “break” you out of your negative state. If you’re feeling negative emotions strongly, consider pausing for a couple minutes to do two minutes of breathing meditation.

Visualize the Sender / Recipient. Take a moment to visualize the other human being with whom you’re communicating. Become present to the fact that you’re in an exchange with another human. You’re not just typing letters into a screen, but interacting with another being. Spend a couple moments with this idea.

Re-Read the Email. If you’re sending an email, re-read the email. Remember that the receiver doesn’t have the same non-verbal cues as an in-person communication. Remember that they might not necessarily assume positive intentions, unless positive intentions are abundantly clear. Is there any way that your email could be misconstrued? Use your emotional barometer as a guide and rewrite your email if necessary.

If you’re receiving an email, likewise, pause and re-read the email. Notice any emotions or sensations that arise in your body, and simply let them pass without judgment. Realize that you also don’t have the benefit of nonverbal cues, and that you may be reading criticism or attack where there isn’t one. Re-read the email and see if the email could be read more objectively.

Take Three Breathes Before Replying. Before you hit “send” on your reply, take three deep, slow breaths, at least four seconds in and four seconds out. Stay as present as you can to your emotions and to your breath. During these three breaths, feel free to change your mind about sending, or to decide to edit your email before hitting send.

Mindful Emailing

It’s easy to be impulsive with email. A person who never lashes out at others in person can easily send off a criticizing email without being aware that it might hurt the receiver. Taking just a few moments to go through these steps can help avoid a lot of misunderstandings, as well as needless stressful emotions.

To your happiness and success,

  • Search Inside Yourself

“On The Cushion” – An Insight Meditation Sitting Group (VIPASSANA)

WEEKLY - Tuesday Evenings – DUNDAS – 7:15 – 8:45 p.m.

Contact Donna Paige – 905-317-9768 OR donnapaige77@gmail.com

The purpose of the group is to support ongoing meditation practice for those with experience and to provide opportunity for others to learn to develop a sitting practice.  There is no advance registration needed – it is an open group.  Please contact Donna Paige for details.

Mindfulness program helps teens mental health

Hamilton Spectator Wednesday Feb 3 2016

Delaney Peirce is 17, but just recently learned to breathe — really breathe — thanks to a mindfulness program.

She has conversion disorders which made her faint whenever she got nervous. She also suffers from anxiety and depression, but a new Teen Mindfulness Group program at McMaster Children's Hospital where she is an outpatient has given her a new lease on life.

Delaney found the eight-week program "very relaxing, very calming".

"It was a lot of deep breathing, and I use that now when I get nervous or anxious," she said.

It also taught her to resist basing her decisions on reactions and emotions.

"I learned to respond instead of reacting."

The program also helped her most recently with the pressure of high school exams.

"I was getting overwhelmed so I put my head down on my desk and breathed heavily in and out." It helped tremendously and put her in a good frame of mind to write the exam, she says.

Delaney stars in a video on the program that premièred in support of last Wednesday's Bell Let's Talk Day. You can watch it at https://vimeo.com/152496795.

The program, run for the first time at Mac last fall, ended in early January, but clinical specialist Cheryl Webb expects to run it twice a year. It is only available to McMaster Children's Hospital patients of adolescent medicine, ages 14 to 18, with a range of illnesses.

Webb based the program on a book by Dr. Dzung Vo, a pediatrician specializing in adolescent medicine at British Columbia's Children's Hospital and author of "The Mindful Teen: Powerful Skills to Help You Handle Stress One Moment at a Time."

Vo has for three years run a teen mindfulness program in B.C. developed by U.S. expert Jon Kabat-Zinn, Webb said.

Webb called Vo for advice and he provided guidance in setting up the Hamilton program, she said.

All seven participants have become more aware of when they started to worry and can use tools in the program "to stay grounded … so they wouldn't get overwhelmed," Webb said.

"Mindfulness is about trying to stay present in the moment."

The teens also learned that thoughts are not facts, Webb added.

"It's eye opening that we can choose which (thoughts) to keep and which to let go of."

It is stressful being a 16 or 17 year-old, but it is also empowering to recognize "that knot in your stomach is because of worry" and that you can let it go and let go of the pain, she said.

"They are just becoming more aware of how their feelings show up in a physiological way in their body."

Meditation can help you achieve your resolutions

Whatever your resolution, be it working out more or eating healthier, experts say mindfulness strategies can help

 Hamilton Spectator Jan 04, 2016  

Nick Kozak/Toronto Star

By Lauren Pelley

New Year’s resolutions can be all over the map. Maybe you’re making small tweaks, like trying to work out more or eat healthier. Or maybe you’re striving for big changes — quitting smoking or losing weight. Whatever your resolutions for 2016, mindfulness experts say this popular meditation strategy can help you stay on track and realize your goals.

What is mindfulness?

With its roots in Buddhist meditation traditions, mindfulness is a mental state that’s achieved by focusing your thoughts on the present. That sort of focus means you’re conscious of your feelings and bodily sensations, and not just living your life on autopilot.

“Are you really tasting the strawberries, or are you just shovelling them in your mouth? If you’re talking to a friend, are you paying attention to all the non-verbal cues?” says Dr. Paul Kelly, clinical director at the Mindfulness Clinic in Toronto. “The richest, most fulfilling human moments we have occur when we’re really tuned in to one another.”

Focus on the positive

When it comes to New Year’s resolutions, mindfulness strategies can help you shift your focus. Say you want to butt out for good. Sure, you’re losing the pleasure of nicotine, but Kelly says practicing mindfulness can help you focus on what you’re gaining instead.

“It’s important to think about what about this will be positive or rewarding for me. I’ll enjoy not coughing as much, not having the smell of cigarettes on my clothing, I’ll enjoy sharing with my friends that I’ve made this change,” he says. By being aware of the positive gain, you’re shifting your mind towards success.

Practice urge-surfing

If you’re trying to give up a bad habit — constant snacking, or regularly creeping your ex on Facebook — you should try “urge-surfing,” says psychologist Jonathan Kaplan, director of the SoHo CBT + Mindfulness Center. That means paying attention to your emotions, and the internal and external conditions fuelling your decisions.

With emotional eating, for example, it’s easy to reach for the nearest bag of chips because you’re acting on autopilot, Kaplan says, rather than paying attention to your feelings and motivations for eating in the first place. “If we don’t give into that urge, it’ll subside,” he says. “We just have to ride or surf it out.”

Start actually meditating

You can apply mindfulness principles in your life, but actually practicing meditation can be the best way to overhaul how you think on a regular basis. Formal meditation starts building our ability to sustain our attention for longer periods of time, and “cultivating that attitude of acceptance,” says Kaplan. But that doesn’t mean you need to sit in a lotus pose for half an hour — even just a few minutes at a time can help you get on track.

Kaplan suggests taking a meditation class or using an app to get the ball rolling. Kelly says it’s also worth doing a mindfulness review at the end of each day, focusing on how you felt and if there were any obstacles you faced in hitting your goals.