Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Tuesday, June 13: Wake up and love, Conscious Talking

I had a fine time with my brother-in-law the other night, doing what I call “Conscious talking.” The idea of this is to talk to another person, or in a group, with the goal of being present to myself, both while I listen and while I speak. That means I’m in the moment, and can pull away from the usual talking to impress or manipulate others, or even more usual, the random talk of people just flapping their gums to relieve excess energy and not feel lonely for two seconds.

I deeply enjoyed both the speaking and listening with this fine man, and he kind of enjoyed it, but he kept getting on to how “boring” he was. He couldn’t quite get over the hump of letting his talking just be something he was interested in exploring and letting go of worry and concern for how other people were thinking about him.

Oh, well. This is what Gurdjieff called our greatest slavery: our being hooked to the approval and disapproval of others. What a great opportunity to get beyond this in conscious speaking.

Now, why am I titling this section Wake up and Love? Because so much of our time with loved ones is not talk and sharing about what really means something to us. It is the details of life, or our opinions, or gossip, but until a fight breaks out and some reconciliation happens in the end, no real honest sharing happens. Or very little.

And, within the rules of conscious speaking, the main underminers of real communication are eliminated.

Rule 1: no interrupting. You agree with a partner or in a group to speak for 3 or 4 or 5 minutes each and while you talk, no one interrupts.

Rule 2: no fixing or commenting. So if someone talks about some issue that is bothering them, no one will use their speaking time to give them to solution. Which again brings people back to themselves, to pay attention to what is really going on with them.

A third rule, not really enforceable, and one of the best teachings is this: when you listen, really listen. Be present to breathing and the other person, and skip the usual of preparing in your head what your response is going to be. This alone is worth the price of admission, because we spend so much mental effort doing this, we never really get to listen, and never get to discover what we’ll say on our own without preparation.

And what to talk about if we stumble. One, be silent, it won’t hurt anyone. Two, say, “I don’t know what to talk about.” Three, talk about two staples that should always be interesting to us if we love being alive: what we notice in the present and what we like/love about being alive.

Try it. Look into the eyes of the people you are talking to. Be present in talking and listening. This can change your life.


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