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Learn These Tricks to Strike up a Conversation with Any Strangers

Learn These Tricks to Strike up a Conversation with Any Strangers

A lot of us have been in this situation:

You plan to go to a party with a friend, but at the last moment they drop out. You decide to go anyway, figuring that, chances are, you’ll know someone there.

But upon going to the party you find a place full of total strangers. If you’re anything like I was, you’d spend in the corner, quietly by yourself until someone spoke to you. That, or go home.

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The above has happened to me quite frequently. Whatever fear, or psychological barrier that stopped me from simply speaking to someone seemed an insurmountable obstacle. Yet I wanted nothing more than to speak. Though with me it was good old fashioned social anxiety, but there can be many reasons for having trouble speaking to strangers.

You may even find that some strangers you can speak to with ease, but others, things are much more difficult. But why?

Why can speaking to strangers be so hard?

If you find it harder to speak to some more than others, it’s possible that you consciously or subconsciously consider there to be a greater risk.[1] Perhaps this is a person you find attractive, is someone you want to become good friends, or someone who may be able to introduce you to new and interesting people.

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While talking to them you might find yourself in a state of analysis, and fear that you may be saying something that will make them go away, or even dislike you. Doing this, and holding a conversation at the same time is near enough impossible. It can be extremely disheartening too, especially if you feel they have social skills on a level above you (to them, its possible you seem fine).

The sense of risk may also be the same cause for not talking if you face a room full of strangers, you want to go up to someone and speak. But in your mind the want to make a great first impression seems incredibly difficult. So you say nothing or nothing comes up.

This is hugely exacerbated if you have social anxiety disorder. Which at times feels like a prison exclusive to you, however, social anxiety is the third most common mental health issue, behind alcoholism and depression.[2] So, in a room full of people, its perfectly possible that many people are having, the same difficulties talking to strangers, but may have coping mechanisms, or social skills built out of tremendous strain.

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You know, and I know that overcoming this is very important for personal development. Talking to strangers is ultimately something you will have to do daily. Finding it difficult, or even impossible has, I think held me back immeasurably, perhaps you know this too?

How can I overcome the social anxiety?

Despite the way it feels, these problems and difficulties are extremely common. Many people privately go through these hardships. Some have overcome them completely, or have just developed more social and communication skills than they used to have. But its important to know that any difficulties you have can be overcome.

Personally, I found that silly small talk was a fine way to break down the barriers, I felt no need to worry about impressing them. You are for them to know as much as they are for you to know… if that make sense.

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There are hundreds of other ways.

  • Some even suggest initiating a casual game of tic-tac-toe.[3] If they decide to play, you can be mentally focused on the game, and not the conversation. Perhaps you might even find that words come more freely as you are no longer thinking about what to say, but playing the game.
  • Smile, people find happy people more approachable. If you seem quiet in the corner, people may misinterpret that as being standoffish. If you smile, they may initiate the conversation with you, without you needing to initiate things with them.
  • Before you start talking, don’t worry about the outcome of the conversation of have any aims or desires about getting anything from it.[4] This should help alleviate any pressure you may feel.
  • Remind yourself that they are strangers, you’ve gone through your life without them having an opinion of you, if the extremely unlikely event of them thinking negatively of you, or are unaffected by the conversation. Then literally nothing has changed.
  • If you are talking, but don’t know how to keep the conversation going, avoid the desire to keep asking questions. Though this encourages them to talk instead of you, it puts them at a bit of pressure to answer. They may find them feeling as if they are being interviewed.
    Instead maybe talking about where you are, observations, or if you want to know more about them, make a statement that encourages a reply.[5] Like “This is a pretty nice X, I’m glad I came”
    This may also make you seem relaxed and outgoing.
  • Be aware that nobody likes awkward silences and conversations, so if you find yourself in one, its as much up to them to resolve it as it is up to you.
  • Be interested in people. Pretty much all social interaction is wrapped in protocol and asinine small talk. It can be rare to talk to someone who seems genuinely interested in you or what you have to say. If you are the one with that interest in people. Then they will flock to you.

There are of course hundreds of books and articles about this subject (you are reading one!). I recommend Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People. It is a classic for a reason.

Reference

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Published on November 28, 2018

How to Do Meditation at Home to Calm Your Anxious Mind

How to Do Meditation at Home to Calm Your Anxious Mind

The woman in yoga pants sitting in a lotus position atop a rocky cliff, overlooking a valley draped in fog — this is the glamorized version of meditation you’ll come across as you search. Yet if you’re seeking meditation to calm your mind, a fantastic setting with no distractions is rarely available.

So how to do meditation?

The truth about meditation is it’s an everyday practice for anybody. You could be a mountain climber or you could be an accountant — either way, your home is just as good a place for meditation as any.

Are you seeking to corral your racing thoughts and relieve a sense of unease, awkwardness, or uncertainty? Look to home meditation to cultivate a laid-back, creative, confident, and organized frame of mind. According to extensive scientific research, meditation relieves stress and anxiety, decreases blood pressure, improves sleep, and improves your ability to pay attention. [1]

From start to finish, this article will give you quick, easy steps to follow so that you can meditate at home regularly. You’ll begin by assessing, identifying and altering things that need to change in your home environment. You’ll end by understanding the basics of meditation so that you can let yourself do what you already know how to do deep down in the hidden reality of your mind.

You’re ready to let your mind be, and just be, in your own home — let’s begin.

1. Find the Right Space in Your Home

Where is your right space for meditation at home? Is it in your basement, your bedroom, your living room, or your study?

The right space will be one with the least distractions built in to its purpose. In that case, it may be your bedroom. If you’ve set up your bedroom to be a place for sleep and only sleep, it will lend itself well to meditation.

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The right space will also be a reasonably spacious one. Although comfort is not your goal, you need room to sit. Choose a space that is private, spacious, and quiet. If you don’t have a space in your home like this, create one. Free it from clutter and get it ready for you to meditate there any time.

Ultimately, your right space is one you feel comfortable meditating in, the space you can enter with no other expectations.

2. Improve the Feng Shui in Your Home and Meditation Space

Feng shui means “wind and water.” It’s the ancient Chinese art of placement.[2]

Feng shui improves harmony with nature. Adherents to the principles of feng shui believe all things have energy (chi). The focus of feng shui is to send negative chi (sha) out of the space and attract positive chi (yun).

Here’s the truth about feng shui: it’s not complicated or hard. The following will influence feng shui positively in your home and meditation space:

  • Living things, such as plants
  • Beautiful objects, such as sculptures or even a well-polished piece of driftwood
  • Mirrors in symmetrical placement with the lines in a room
  • Mellifluous sounds, such as trickling water or wind chimes
  • Furniture away from walls
  • A centerpiece, such as a small table with books or an ornate lamp on it
  • Incense or something else that smells good
  • A lack of clutter and an attention to organization that emphasizes the usefulness, purpose, and essential being of each item in your house

Given that feng shui is connected to Taoism and Buddhism, it will complement the meditative atmosphere you want to cultivate in your home.

3. Eliminate Pervasive Distractions That Can Harm Your Wellbeing

In part, meditation is about accepting the existence of distractions. When you meditate, you don’t judge and assign a positive or a negative value to distractions — the ticking of a clock, an itch, the barking of a dog — you let them occur and let them dissipate like waves.

However, in the same way that feng shui removes objects that attract negative chi, there are certain types of distractions that don’t belong in your meditative space. You must remove them.

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In a survey of 1,700 people who visited social media sites at least 30 times per week, 30 percent reported high levels of sleep disturbance and 25 percent presented symptoms of depression. [3]

Those individuals who experience sleep disturbances or mental health issues due to social media are not setting boundaries between themselves and their connected devices.

Part of learning how to meditate at home is learning how and when to set boundaries between yourself and your connected devices and social media accounts. If you need your phone for a timed meditation practice, but you normally receive social media notifications on your phone, set it on Do Not Disturb or Airplane mode during your meditation time.

4. Flow into Meditation Through Time

Next, set aside a time for meditation each day. It’s right to be structured and disciplined about your meditation time.

Buddhist monks whose lives revolve around meditation are very structured and organized with their tasks each day. Structure provides the balance your being needs. Once you are meditating, your mind has no need for time. Outside of your given meditation time, you are completing tasks essential to the wellbeing of yourself and your home.

Consider meditating as the sun rises. This is a quiet and contemplative time of the day when it is natural to set your day’s balance through meditation.

5. Recognize the Rightness of Doing Nothing

At home, you’re probably used to always doing something. When you do meditation at home, you are being, which is doing something and nothing simultaneously.

Maryville University points out that successful people unplug by doing nothing. [4] Not only this, but they set the right expectations for the time during which they will do nothing.

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We oftentimes look forward to the future by expecting something to happen and by expecting something of ourselves. To meditate from home, look to that time and that space by expecting nothing. You will not do any chores. You will not catch up on work. You will do nothing but meditate for a certain amount of time each day.

This might sound crazy, but in taking on meditation from home, you’re not expecting yourself to improve and become a better person. As Ram Dass put it, you are expecting yourself to be here now.

6. Choose from the Incredible Variety of Meditative Practices

As I outlined in my post on types of meditation, there are many different and not-so-different types of meditation from which to choose.

Many beginners find it right to choose guided meditation, for which there are apps, videos, and audio tapes available.

If you are not necessarily a beginner but are merely moving your meditative practice into the home, you can facilitate a practice such as Nada Yoga — sound meditation — by placing a fountain in your space or listening to ambient alpha wave music.

If you’re used to meditating outside of your home — perhaps you are drawn to the outdoors because of the sounds of nature — a practice like Nada Yoga can help you transition into your home space.

7. Understand You Can Meditate Any Time at Home

What if I told you to throw out all of the tips that came before this? Sounds crazy but that is how radical mindfulness meditation really is. We don’t think of it as radical because it is now ingrained in our popular discourse.

Mindfulness meditation does start as a sitting meditation practice. It goes like this:

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  1. Sit comfortably and close your eyes.
  2. Focus on breathing. Inhale through your nose slowly and exhale slowly.
  3. As distracting thoughts arise, don’t judge them and don’t hang onto them. Let each thought go as you focus on breathing.
  4. Treat all physical sensations and feelings in the same way you do thoughts: register them, then let them go, returning to breathing.
  5. Extend this practice to everyday activity, remaining “in the moment” of the body’s activity with each new breath.

As you practice mindfulness around your home, note the physical characteristics of the things in themselves. Note physical sensations: sounds, smells, textures, appearances, tastes. Stop now and then and do a body scan from head to toe, noting what each section is doing and how it’s feeling.

Note thoughts that come and the emotions attached to them: let them go. Concentrate on the breath and the physical activities — including the details of the objects with which you’re interacting.

You’ll notice that your home will lend itself to a meditative state when things are in order. This is where true feng shui originates. You will naturally sense how the arrangement of things affects the energy in a room.

Clutter will disappear because mindfulness tells you to dispose of unnecessary things. Plants will bloom. Birds will make their nests in your backyard. Your home will smell pleasing and people will naturally be attracted to it and your presence.

You’ve Reached the Beginning and the End

Once you are able to do mindfulness meditation even as you are attending to the normal and abnormal requirements of your home, the mundane and the unusual, you are at both the beginning and the end.

You are at the beginning because meditation never ends. Continue setting aside time each day to do sitting meditation in the space you’ve set aside. Continue practicing mindfulness as you attend to the energy of your house, your own energy, and the energy of those around you.

You are at the end because you grasped what it means to do meditation at home: it means letting go of cares and concerns and being in your home as you attend to the right tasks. The right tasks are those necessary for being in your home.

As you sit in your home, rise, open the door and you leave, you are calm in your mind because you are home.

Featured photo credit: Simon Rae via unsplash.com

Reference

[1]Healthline: 12 Science-Based Benefits of Meditation
[2]Marquette University: Feng Shui: The Wind and Water
[3]Rutgers University: Social Media and Well-Being
[4]Maryville University: How Successful People Unplug

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