Listening in the Present

Week Two - - - Day Four

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Listening without an agenda 

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Here’s the deal, as some like/ love to say….

Here’s the deal: we talk and often it’s to hear ourselves talk.

We listen, and it’s to find a hole in the air time to insert our important talking.

We say our important thing and don’t listen to anything that is not, “Oh, what you said is so great.”



To wit:

We talk too much.

We don’t listen enough.



Really?

Seems to me, and you can watch your own life and mouth and emotions from now on.

Do you interrupt?

Do you take a pause of a breath or two before you say your bit.

Do you take some time to paraphrase what the other person said before you say your thing?

Do you take some time to ask curiosity questions about what you’ve just been told.



Curiosity questions are very different from accusatory or third degree questions.

And, can we admit and recognize that we sometimes go that route.



Wait, wait: 

Alll these statements seem to be implying that we aren’t perfect.

Hell, yes.



I’m not perfect.

You’re not perfect.

And….

THAT’S PERFECT.



Let’s say that again, because this can be the pathway to real ease and love and liking. In life. With your mate. With your children. With your siblings, co-workers, neighbors, friends and especially…. ex-friends and ex-lovers.



I’m not perfect….

You’re not perfect…

And…

THAT’S PERFECT !!!!



Ta da.



So, we interrupt others.

Others interrupt us.



We are excited to get our own bit in and don’t want to listen.

Others are excited to get their own bit in and don’t want to listen.



We aren’t present when we listen.

Others aren’t present when they listen.



We aren’t present when we talk.

Others aren’t present when we talk.



Big deal: welcome to humanity.



And, big big deal:

CHANGING OUR ABILITY TO BE PRESENT WHEN WE LISTEN CAN MAKE A HUGE DIFFERENCE IN OUR LIVES.



So today we are going to start the timed talking exercises.

If you’ve been together awhile, there is a tendency to use a platform of talking for four minutes to “dump” all the accumulated garbage of your relationship.



Here’s the deal (that’ll be this chapters running joke)

Here’s the deal: We all have accumulated garbage

And..

Almost everyone either stuffs it and gets more and more unhappy/ agitated / miserable/ resentful

Or…

Blurts it out and scalds the other person..



Later we’ll figure out what to do with the garbage you want to let out and even that will be in two stages ( First, letting out the garbage as gibberish. Second, saying it from the “I feel…” form, with an added. “And if I take this from your best possible intentions, here’s one way I can see this….”)



For now though, we’re going to start the really, really, really important “work” of listening from being present and listening without interrupting.

And in this chapter: listening without commenting on what the other person said.



So, here’s the deal….



Listening / Turns Talking Exercise #1:

Sit facing your mate.

Or co-worker, friend, even a willing stranger.

Agree that you will talk in turns.

Agree that the goal is to be present to body, light and sound:

While you talk 

And

While you listen.



Set the timer for four minutes.

One person talks of

  1. Gratitudes

  2. What they are aware of as sensation, sight or hearing, in the present.

  3. No “feelings”

  4. No “thoughts”

  5. No judgments, even seemingly non-judgmental, like “It’s too hot,” or “It’s hot.” …. “My skin on my leg feels warm” is in reality. But the judgment “It’s too hot” or “It’s hot” is a good habit to leave behind.  (In this exercise and in life in the full)



The other person listens.

  1. Just listens.

  2. Following your breathing and sensing arms and legs as per the Gurdjieff meditation

  3. Paying attention to reflected light coming in your eyes and sound coming in your ears, as per the Gurdjieff meditation.

  4. Noticing the wise/ helpful/ argumentative/ whatever comments you want to say.

  5. Realizing that these are comments you WILL NOT SAY. DURING THE TALK, OR AFTER THE TALK.

  6. JUST LISTEN.

  7. SMILE AND BREATHE DEEPLY

  8. ENJOY THIS PERSON AND ENJOY LISTENING.



The timer goes off.

Bow to each other.

Take a few deep breaths looking at and smiling to each other.

Switch directions.

Go the other way for four minutes.



Then switch two more times, at least, so each person has at least twice to talk. 



Three times is better.



And….

How Carol and I feel in love, part three:

We had a luncheon meeting.

About my book.

We talked a bit about it.



Then I suggested the listening in turns exercise, which was part of the book.

We talked for five minutes each.

Back and forth.

And

Back and forth

And

Back and forth



For about three hours.

Then I asked if she’d seen the Brene Brown TED talk on vulnerability. No. We watched it and more wonders happened.



And, crucial was all that time listening, listening, listening. 

Discovering who the other person was.



This is a wonderful way to connect.

Again and again and again.



Try it and see what happens.

Good.