Updated: May 20, 2020
Start paying close attention to how you serve, and you may notice things that you don’t like so much - like how little other people pay attention. It’s easy to get frustrated, which is why two other skills are key ingredients here:
Try Some Non-Attachment:
The concept of non-attachment doesn’t mean you don’t care, or you’re not emotionally invested. It’s an understanding that when you serve, you’re involved in something bigger than yourself. True mindful service means that you act according to the needs of the moment without requiring things to go the way you expected. You have to keep a balance between caring immensely about others (and yourself), and then completely take your own expectations out of the equation.
Service is an exchange of energy between people (emotional, physical, you name it), but this exchange isn’t always going to look the way you want it to. People won’t listen, they won’t take your guidance, they won’t be kind, but remember that a mindful agent of service doesn’t require compliance in order to be satisfied with the exchange. To bring value to others (and yourself), you just need to show up with nothing more than a willingness to be aware of their needs, and some positive intentions.
Bring this mindset to a situation and you’ve served them to your highest potential. And whoever you’re serving will receive your energy output in the way they were most capable in the moment. No more, no less.
And Apply Some Compassion:
So, someone’s listening skills may not be comfortable or convenient for you. Or maybe they’re the ones being impatient with you. But is someone else’s mental state that much of a threat to your well-being? Or is the threat just some story your mind is spinning that they don’t value you enough? Regardless, if you were to ever investigate why they’re distracted or moody, the answer is always either:
1. They are suffering in some way. Anything preoccupying someone and making them inconsiderate of others is the result of present-moment fear and sadness in their lives or an accumulation of past trauma.
2. You are suffering in some way. Same deal: some accumulation of past hurt has made someone’s neutral behavior - that intended no harm to you - appear hostile or threatening.
Whether it’s for the suffering of others or your own suffering or both simultaneously, the response to behavior that bothers you can always be kindness and compassion. Although it may be difficult to do so since you’re already emotionally charged in some way, the antidote to this feeling is just to observe what’s happening (with others and yourself) with interest and gratitude.
Gratitude? Well, what better gift could you be given than the exposure of something in you that needs to be healed and the opportunity to maybe even help another suffering soul along the way.
About The Author
Stefan Ravalli (LinkedIn profile here) is a meditation and mindful service teacher. His education project Serve Conscious seeks to give people and businesses the tools to transform their service roles to mindful ones and make a service a medium for growth, power and transformation.