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Mindful Living, Deep Listening

By Jeanie Seward-Magee

There was a wonderful article and presentation by Ted Englander this past week on being non-judgmental and being impeccable with our words. The other part of this is deep listening. Thich Nhat Hanh’s Fourth Mindfulness Practice Training is about deep listening and mindful speech. “Aware of the suffering caused by unmindful speech and the inability to listen to others, I am committed to cultivating loving speech and deep listening in order to bring joy and happiness to others and relieve others of their suffering.”

Many people have told me that they can relate to being one, or at times, all of the following types of listeners. Which one are you? There are the rehearsers. They are thinking about what they want to say, while not hearing or listening to what you are saying. Mind readers usually hear nothing, while they are thinking in their minds, “What is this person really feeling or thinking?” A filterer is a selective listener, hearing only what he or she wants to hear! The identifier always identifies everything you say with one of their own experiences, which are often a bigger and better story than your own! Then there are the comparers—people who get side tracked assessing or judging you, rather than listening to your message. The derailer changes the subject too quickly, to signal a lack of interest in anything you have to say. The sparrer is almost the same; he or she hears what is said, but quickly belittles or discounts it. The placaters agree with everything you say, just to be nice or to avoid confrontation, but really don’t hear a thing you have said.

Deep listening is a skill that takes many years to develop. Deep listening means that we try to listen deeply in order to understand what that other person is truly saying. Not just the words, but also the emotions, feelings, and real thoughts behind the words. When we do this, we can begin to understand the other person a little better.

A mindfulness practice group meets every Sunday from 5:30 to 7pm in order to support their own practice of mindful living. All are welcome to join us. We practice mindful sitting and walking meditation and have a short dharma talk and discussion, all in the tradition of Thich Nhat Hanh.

Jeanie Seward-Magee is a Dharma teacher in the tradition of Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh and the author of two books on living mindfully. Call 121 0596 or email for more details.


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