I have a public speaking class this semester and the class recently presented informative speeches. I’ll admit that I procrastinated writing my outline but I couldn’t decide what topic to speak on! This is the third public speaking class that I have taken throughout high school and college and I’ve always done what felt like serious subjects and this time I really just wanted to do something light and fluffy. I was trying to decide which of two things I like to use as my topic: Cirque du Soleil and rollercoasters.
Before I knew it I looked at my calendar and realized my outline was due the next day! Crap! So I settled on talking about my favorite rollercoasters but it felt empty. I don’t know if that makes sense, but that’s the best way I can think to describe it. Last minute I switched it up and chose to speak on Mindfulness, specifically what I felt to be 3 of the top benefits: stress relief, compassion, and less interpersonal conflict.
I knew my subject well and felt that I presented the speech well. In fact I now know I did well since I received an ‘A’ (Yay!). But the immediate response stripped my confidence. First this guy let out a loud snore which he tried to make into a compliment by saying my voice was rhythmic and soothing and made him want to fall asleep (I think that was a compliment at least). But then this same guy followed that by telling the professor he had been in a mindfulness workshop at the Veteran’s Center once and thought the whole thing was “…a load of new age crap like that Scientology stuff”. No one else in the class had any comments to make and I think it stung the most because he kept going on with his opinion and I never seemed to get the opportunity to correct the misconceptions he was saying were fact.
Because here is the issue with his opinion on Mindfulness – It was based on limited knowledge of the subject. He had attended one workshop. I also know that the way Mindfulness is taught in these workshops and even the way it is taught in some therapies is not full Mindfulness. They teach you some Mindfulness meditations to use for a certain purpose like to lower anxiety or decrease anger – They teach it to you like it is a tool to just pull out of your back pocket when you need it. But Mindfulness isn’t supposed to be used like that, it is meant to be a way of life and a change in the way you think. Sure it’s nice to have that tool ready to calm you down but what if you were able to change your thinking so that you were less likely to even begin to feel anxiety or anger? That I feel is the difference.
I wasn’t really upset with this guy in my class. I felt him running off at the mouth the way he did a little rude, but I wasn’t mad at him. I was, and still am, a little irritated with myself that I didn’t choose a different focus for my topic. I had thought that presenting some awesome benefits would make people want to find out more about it. Instead I want to kick myself now for not just giving my speech on the true message and idea of Mindfulness.
The point was to get a good grade and I did that. But I am still disappointed that my message seems to not have been understood by my audience. I’m hoping that at least one person in that class understood me and maybe even looked into it more, even if they didn’t speak out. That’s all I can do – Put the message out there and hope open minds will receive it.