How Mindful Communication Makes Us More Compassionate

By pausing to notice the way we respond to others, we can open ourselves up to more honest communication.

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Recently my friend Nancy, who I haven’t seen in years, sent me an email with some photos attached. “You’ll love these,” she wrote.

The photos circulating through the Internet were of a polar bear and a dog playing together. I first saw them in a National Geographic magazine many years ago and was captivated by the story. A dog named Churchill was tied up to a stake in the ice. His owner spotted a starving bear, just out of hibernation, through the window of his cabin. He watched in horror as the bear approached his dog. Feeling powerless to protect his pet from certain death, he grabbed his camera and snapped pictures of the scene unfolding before his eyes. But to his amazement, what he ended up witnessing was how Churchill saved his own life.

As the bear lumbered towards him, Churchill crouched down and wagged his tail. In spite of his ravenous hunger, the bear responded to the signal and switched from predator to playmate. One of the photos shows Churchill and the bear embraced in an affectionate hug as they tumbled and rolled around the ice. Then the huge polar bear turned and ambled away. Over the next…