Friday, May 29, 2015

Shut up and Listen

I once had this marvelous girlfriend. We met when I went to her yoga class. We bonded in a garden and in nature. We had a sweet connection. Our first night together was in a futon bed that was in a garden, under the stars. She was frisky. I was frisky.
Life was good.
Our talk was good, I thought, and yet: I was the oldest child, and we like to hear ourselves be the teacher. (Love to hear ourselves teach, actually. Alas.)  She was the youngest and had been married 18 years to a semi-famous artist who took up all the air in the room.
I didn’t know how much better things could get in talking until I tried this one night, this game that will be your first gift from the world of radical listening.

We used a timer.
She talked for five minutes. I didn’t interrupt. I was present as I listened. I followed my breathing. I didn’t say a peep. I looked at her and took her in.  If she didn’t know what to say instantly, I didn’t “help.” I waited. I listened.
I took a turn.
She took another turn, and in this turn began to cry.
No one had ever really listened to her for five minutes without completing her thought or interrupting her to tell her what she was “really” trying to say. Or the usual human thing: interrupting to say their ever so important thing.

Ever notice how your interruptions always have the assumption that what you have to say is MUCH more important than letting them finish?

Well, with Marlie, this had been endemic enough for her never to be heard.

So she cried.
This was profound for her.
And profound for me.

Let’s see how it will be for you.
Sit across from a friend, a business colleague, or your love partner. (With the love partner, this listening in the now can deeply improve the sex connection. Don’t believe me. Discover it for yourselves.)

You are going to take 3 minute turns talking and listening. Three turns makes it 18 minutes. You can do four minute turns (24 minutes). Or 5 minute turns (30 minutes).
And you might get hooked and want to keep going and going.
After Marlie and I got into it, we’d go for hours sometimes. It’s so nice to discover what you have to say when the pressure of interruption is off.

 In the beginning levels of this game, you don’t say anything about what the other person talked about.
This has two advantages: One, you don’t have to worry about what another person thinks about what you say when you talk, because they don’t get to say their ever so important opinion.
Two, as the listener, you aren’t going inside and rehearsing your response instead of listening, which is what we do most of the time. This helps create a condition of ONLY LISTENING.

Not interrupting. Even a squeak.
Not “thinking” of our response to what they are saying.
Not rehearsing over and over our response to what they are saying.
Not having any commentary in our head about what they are saying.
Not even “remembering” what they said awhile back.
One word at a time, one sentence at a time, one breath of this life, this now, this miracle of being alive and…

This creates a delicious savoring of our partner as they speak and we are ONLY LISTENING.  This creates a great ease and possibility for inner discovery in the one talking.
This is good.
This is very good.

Here’s the game

Set up two chairs facing each other and sit in them
Grant yourselves at least 20 minutes
Turn off cell phones, though let one be on airplane mode to be used for a timer
Set the timer for 3 minutes
Pick who starts first today. We’ll call this person, Partner A, or A.
Start the timer
Partner A talks, while being present
Partner B listens, in only listening
3 minutes
Partner A talks of anything except…
1. No talking about “the relationship”
2. No talking about the other person

It can be ramble.
It can be exploration.
It can be memory.
If “nothing comes,” these four always work:

The present
What you like/ love/ enjoy about life.
What is important to you in life
Saying nothing

It’s fine to say nothing.
You get attention, ONLY LISTENING, whether you have words or not..

The timer goes off.


Then switch to partner B talking for 3 minutes and partner A, ONLY LISTENING.

Partner B ( and partner A in all subsequent turns) has three restrictions now. One more.
1. No talking about the other person,
2. No talking about the relationship,
3. No talking about what the other person just said. No commentary, feedback, reactions, “improvements ” (aka “one upping”),  opinions.

As said before, this helps ONLY LISTENING immensely. Knowing that you won’t have a chance to yak about your important reaction to what you just heard helps calm down the mind for ONLY LISTENING.
Knowing that your partner won’t get to yak their important response gives an ease and a safety to the one speaking.

At the end of the three minutes, PAUSE again, and again take three deep and sweet breaths together.

Back to A. Who has the same three restrictions.

Do this at least 3 turns of talking  and ONLY LISTENING for each person.

You might want to take a quiet walk after, holding hands if you are a couple, simply being quiet and present to each other no matter what. And NOT talking, as you walk.

Enjoy deeply this gift of presence and ONLY LISTENING you have given yourself and your partner.

This is a delicious daily practice, a nourishment to your ability to listen and your need to/ wish to be heard.

Connection to another in the present. One of the best presents in the world.
yes yes

Monday, May 18, 2015

Awakened touch: Toward the Magical Bedroom

The Magical Bedroom

( A chapter from the forthcoming book: The Power of Listening, creating the Magical Bedroom, the Magical Boardroom and the Forever Young Body... call for pdf of first four chapters)

The magical bedroom starts in the hands.
No, not really.
The magical bedroom starts in attention. Paying attention to yourself. Paying attention to your partner.
Touch that is in awareness.

The magical bedroom also starts in honest talk. This is what you will be developing in the talk chapters.
Listen to what the other person’s heart has to say.
Truth is the best foreplay.

And touch is important, too.
And here is what is most important: Awakened Love.
Without awakened love you are a robot. A well functioning robot, or a poorly functioning one, but a robot non the less.
Not to be too derogatory but life is stark in a certain way: we can drift and be mindless. We can chose and be mindful.

Awakened love is central to a well lived life. Hopefully with a person with whom to share your bed and life.
If not that, a good friend, a grandchild, a nephew, a partner in the world of waking up.

And for the magical bedroom, we are looking for a partner with whom to wake up in talk, and in touch.
Truth is the most important foreplay, and awakened touch comes in a close second.

And this book will be all foreplay.
Kissing and touching the hands, the arms, the neck, the face. Touching the foot.
That’s it.

Two months of that.
You will be changed. If you want further, come enroll in one of my six month courses, either private or small group. Things get steamy on the third month, but only after a solid presence in touch orientation.
If you are awake in your touch, the world is a completely new and fresh place.

And this can be practiced on a park bench.
How nice.

So let’s start.
Today, the arm.

Take one, and only one of your partner’s arms. You will be exploring the whole arm and hand and those miraculous fingers.
For three minutes explore their arm as if you were a Martian and not really sure what arms and hand are.
And you are a baby, you aren’t even sure what your own arms and hands are
Three minutes.
Touch and explore their arm and hand: with your hand.
With your hands.
How is it different with one hand and two.
Explore with your finger tips. With all the fingers. With one of two at a time. With different combinations of fingers.
Explore with the back of your hand.
The palm.
Both sides.
Explore with your lower arm and elbow and upper arm.

Go slowly.
Find the thrill in the sensation, and the learning.
Find the pleasure in being very clear and present to the point of contact.
Mindfulness of the moving and sweet point of contact: that will come to be exquisitely useful later.
And it’s exquisitely delightful now.


Do this for three minutes and then take turns sharing how that was for each other.

Now, for the next three minutes.
Take turns articulating three short sentences at a time each. Three here and now observations of either what you are feeling or what you are doing, or if you are the toucher/ explorer, both.

For example>
A: I feel your thumb rubbing the inside of my wrist. I feel my breathing coming in and out. I feel my bottom on the chair.
B: I feel my thumb rubbing your wrist. I feel the softness of your skin. I notice your chest going up and down as you breathe.
A: I feel you now stroking the back of my arm with the back of your arm. I can feel the bones under my skin as you do that. I can hear the bird singing outside.
B: I feel your arm with my arm. I feel my arm moving at the shoulder. I notice I am looking away from you.

And so on.
Three minutes.

Then share how that was.

Switch to do each kind of touching the other way.

And share after each kind of touching.

And you can do this more than once a day.

And do if for two or three days and then will kick in the next layer of touching.


Sunday, May 03, 2015

Pain vs Suffering

From the forthcoming book: Love, Lust and Enlightenment:

Pain vs Suffering
 If someone dies, you are going to feel a physical pang, a real pain in your chest and your life. This is part of life. This is built in.
We had a person. They are gone. That emptiness is real and we can feel it. AS SENSATION.
Loving that sensation, loving that we are alive to feel that sensation, missing that person AS SENSATION is the breaking open of the heart that makes us bigger and better and more loving than ever.

And then there is the suffering: words in our head, aka “thinking,” and in reality, auditory hallucination, the words saying we needed to do this more, needed to do that more, they shouldn’t have died, this isn’t the right time, it’s not fair, the end wasn’t as good as it should have been, regrets about how thing should have been different.

And in a relationship, say something goes wrong, and someone gives you some grief.
Say yesterday your love gave you a hard time, and that’s that.
They said something a bit mean, and being human, it might have been one remark of five seconds out of six hours together. And you can feel bad.

Again, as SENSATION, you gave feel the pain of not connection.
We are designed to be close and to love and when that doesn’t happen there is real pain.
Feeling that, AS SENSATION, not only honors your real grief that connection and love were missed, but honors the present of your sensations right now.

Suffering on the other hand is all the words on how they should have been different, how they “always” are this, how they “never” are that.

As we have examined before: our choice of making ourselves unhappy by arguing with what is.

Notice the deal;
AS SENSATION, something real and present is happening in us.
As words in our head/ thinking/ auditory hallucination we are creating suffering for ourselves.

And let’s take real pain.
Physical pain, which is a pain.

Let’s take a headache.

AS SENSATION, we can feel the exact shape of the pain, is it round, oblong, how big. It’s usually grape size, but no matter how much, it isn’t infinite, which is how we often imagine it when we don’t go for the sensation in reality.
And in reality, the headache is only so big and we can sense were the pain eases off, and then the whole rest of our body and notice how much bigger than the headache is our whole body.

As we can notice that the awareness that can notice this is who we really are.

And, if we want to suffer?
Have a bunch of words in our head about:  it should go away, I should have done this different so this won’t happen, poor me, I have to take this and this and this to get rid of this, life sucks until this pain goes away, when is it going to go away.

And so on.

Reality, as sensation.
Suffering as words in our head arguing with reality.

A huge and super crucial choice we all have at any moment when pain does what pain is supposed to do: wake us up.

So, with your mate
As yesterday.
Sit near. Look in the eye. Breathe together. Have two chairs each.
Have the suffering chair. Sit there and complain in gibberish about how something should have been different yesterday or in some past.
Move to the reality chair. Be vulnerable. Talk of the closeness and connection you are missing and what you’d like to do as a couple to remedy this.

The other partner listen and feedback as you’ve learned throughout this book.

Go back and forth several times.

As always. Pause and take 3-10 breaths together between rounds, and when things shift.

Explore the other person’s arm, in reality two ways:
One with no moment to moment comments about your now.
Two : with moment to moment comments about your now.

Take turns.

Share how it was.

Friday, May 01, 2015

The Secret of Happiness

The Secret of Happiness

The secret of happiness is to stop DOING unhappiness.

We do unhappiness when we forget this:  When we argue with Reality we lose, but only 100% of the time.

Like this: look at a nearby chair.
Demand that it be an elephant.
Any luck.
Now pout, get angry, feel hurt that it’s not an elephant.
Any shift?

Okay. The chair is a chair. So be it.

Here’s four arguments with reality we always lose:

That we be different (in the past, or exactly this moment) than we are. Arguing with ourselves. Painful.
That others be different. They should instantly or in the past have been different.
That the world be different. We know how it should be.
That God be different. Arguing with the inevitable.

Argument with myself: “I should be happy right now.”(If I’m not) I can shift in two seconds. But right now, I am what I am.
“I should have been happy yesterday.” Never going to happen.

Argument with Others: “You should be nicer.” You are the chair, exactly as nice or not nice as you are.
Again, in two seconds it can change, but “You should have been nicer yesterday.” Never going to happen.

Argument with the world. “There should be no poverty.” Not in this instant, at least.

Argument with God. “So and so shouldn’t have died.”
Who says.
“So and so should have lived longer.”
Is it true?

What Is has the sweet finality of being exactly what it is.

If we can love it, we can change a lot in the next two seconds or two days or two weeks.
If we fight it right now, pain.
If we fight what was yesterday, which is the source of almost all couple’s fights, pain, pain, pain.

Ready to be happy?
People think they are complaining because they are in hell.
Whoops, the other way around. People are in hell because they are complaining/ arguing with reality.

Okay, cool.
Do with this what you may.

Take turns.
In gibberish, tell your partner some way they should change.
Switch to another chair. In English, say what you see right now. Only present based observation.

Go back and forth with this for awhile.

Share at the end how this was for you.

Explore and rub the other person’s foot.
Switch between telling yourself you aren’t doing it right or that there is some “better” way to do this
Simply exploring exactly as you are. As if it’s brand new moment every moment.

Take four minute turns.

Share at the end how this was for you.