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Birthing the Heart: The Innocence of Listening

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Teacher: Rodney Smith
Date: 2014-09-30
Venue: Seattle Insight Meditation Center



Listening is a direct link to the heart, but it is often used in the service of the mind. Listening can be defined as meditation since the definition of meditation is receiving whatever is arising. So formal meditation is essentially identical to listening, but listening can be internal only, external only, or internal and external at the same time. Simultaneous internal and external listening is essential when we listen to one another. We have to be able to know the difference between what we hear (external) and what we think (internal), and that requires practice and intention. This is especially tricky in conversation when our commentary is running along side the verbal message coming in. Yet it is possible to detect the intrusion of our internal narrative on our listening, and this discernment can help us become more continuously present throughout the day. Birthing the heart is not a part time affair and what better way to make it continuous than to use each interaction as the very expression of our life’s work.


Use listening as your major expression of practice this week. When entering a situation or engaging in an interaction, ask, “How can I listen more deeply to this?” It may be an exchange where conflict is arising, someone is expressing pain, or there is misunderstanding. Allow the question to open beyond your immediate needs to fix or manipulate the events. Let the question move you into a relaxed and receptive attitude so that listening remains fresh and undistorted. Work with the intention to listen within every situation throughout the week. Notice all the ways you continually interfere and obstruct what you hear.


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