Good morning! Welcome to the DKos Sangha weekly open thread.
This is an open thread for members of the DKos Sangha and others who are interested in discussions concerning how we integrate our progressive political activism into our spiritual practice. If you have observations about the political discourse of the week, or about practice, or about anything else related to walking a spiritual path through the political world, if you wish to share, or if you seek support, or if you simply want to say hello, please do; this space is for you.
If you would like to write a diary for the DKos Sangha, please let me know.
If you care nothing for spiritual practice and only wish to denigrate and disparage, please do so elsewhere, and respect that this is a community diary for the DKos Sangha.
When we are having a conversation with someone, our conditioning, the thoughts in our head, ego, tends to start telling stories about what we are hearing; there is judgement, labeling, the taking of sides, etc. And sometimes the thoughts in our head that arise in reaction to what we are hearing start going off on their own, and you then realize you are no longer even hearing the words the other person is saying.
If your conversation is in a restaurant or similar public space, your attention may be distracted by people passing by, or sounds coming from the kitchen or from children.
A few years ago I attended a workshop where the teacher shared an exercise in listening. The group divided into pairs. The exercise was simple. For some period of time (I can't recall the specified period, maybe two minutes?) one person talks about, shares, something of importance to them, perhaps something that has been troubling them recently. The other person listens. Then at the end of the time period, the second person repeats what was heard; but in the excercise, this repeating of what was heard is not a reinterpretation or a summary or a gist, but as closely as possible a word for word retelling of what was heard.
For the speaker, when hearing the listener recount what was heard, there is the experience of having been truly heard. And for the listener, there is the practice of being fully present and fully focused on the words that are spoken.
In day to day interactions with others, we don't need to repeat back word for word what was said to us by those we meet with; but when we share a conversation with someone, we should be completely present and completely focused on what they are saying. And when we are, it changes the experience for both. You can often tell when someone isn't fully listening to you, especially when you see their eyes looking around the room, following those who are walking around, and only occasionally glancing back at you. But your experience is changed when you realize the person you are speaking with is fully focused on your words.
And when you truly listen, when you are present, when separation falls away, when egoic conditioning isn't making up its own stories in your head, when your heart opens to the person you are with, when you listen compassionately, no judgment, no guilting, the experience is transformational. This is meditation in action; it is taking your practice off the cushion and out into everyday life. And it is heart opening; you are giving fully, welcoming unconditionally, when you truly listen.
The reactive conditioning that seems to chatter away ceaselessly in our head separates us from the experience of now; the running commentary is the reality of our world instead of the actual world. Waking up from this illusion, this separation, is a fundamentally different experience of what it is, or can be, to be human. Our meditation practice can introduce us to this experience of now; mindfulness practice like be fully present with simple things like washing dishes takes us a little further into the experience. And listening practice takes us further still, breaking down the barriers of separation between us and the people we meet with.
The next time you have dinner with a friend, be present, fully, compassionately. And listen.
Enjoy your day!