1 Meditation = accepting all your experiencing
2 Listening = checking your understandings
3 Compassion = kindness, understanding and tenderness
What is meditation?
“Meditation is awareness without judgment in the whole of your life”.
Meditation has nothing to do with sitting, nothing to do with specific forms of practice. These we might call “meditative practices”.
The most important meditative practices are three:
(1) Mindfulness of actions.
In each thing you do, try not to be in two places at once.
Bring your mind to bear on what you are doing.
(2) Mindfulness of emotions.
When faced with a difficult or painful feeling:
“Look it in the eyes, as I am looking at you now”.
(3) Meditative Listening.
When dealing with other people,
aim to see the world from the other person’s point of view.
Listening is to hear other people with compassion and acceptance, to receive them with empathy.
You can seldom be sure that your empathy is on track, unless you say back the essence of each thing that other people say, allowing them to sense inwardly and to correct you by reference to what comes from the inward place.
Acceptance is to let others have their experience. You do not clutch at the experiences that a person likes. You do not deny those that are painful. Acceptance does not condemn or judge. It does not set out to fix anything. It allows everything to be as it is and to change when it changes.
(Suppose somebody is afraid and ashamed of fear. Then you accept the fear, you accept the shame, and you accept the voice which says, “You ought to be more accepting”.)
Everything that comes in experiencing is held in a vast acceptance like the sky, bigger than all feelings, than all particular experiences.
Empathy is to enter the other person’s world “as if you were that person, but without ever losing the as-if”.
Empathy is to allow people to find their own way: “We have all a better guide in ourselves, if we would attend to it, than any other person can be.”
Compassion is a form of understanding. It is not about drowning in the other’s emotions. It is calm, tender and peaceful. It is very kind and loving.
Compassion sees people clutching at good feelings, sharply pushing away bad feelings. It sees people creating intense suffering for themselves.
Compassion and acceptance are conveyed in the background of listening.
Neither compassion nor acceptance can be faked or synthesised. They have to be real, to be an expression of your humanity.
Humanity is your whole experience of life, working in your listening. You are not hidden behind a screen but fully present, alive and responding with all your heart, all your intelligence, all your awareness: aware of your feelings as you listen, letting your feelings show through your listening, and sometimes naming them.
Notice how listening helps the other person.
Listening is awareness without judgement, friendship without control. Listening invites other people to accept themselves, to accept their own lives. It dissolves rejection of self, rejection of others, rejection of life and experiencing. Listening lets other people direct their own lives.
Notice how listening helps the relationship.
Listening builds mutual trust and understanding. Listening dissolves anxiety. It dissolves fear of our feelings, fear of one another, and fear of life. It brings a sense of belonging, a sense of community. Listening is about love.
Notice how listening helps you.
Listening is a spiritual path in its own right. Listening dissolves the isolated self. It brings you into community with other people. Listening opens the gates of compassion. It leads to the spiritual turn. The ordinary person says, “What is in it for me?” After making the spiritual turn, one says, “How can I help you?” There is a fundamental change in motivation.
This is Meditative Listening.