Dear Still Water Friends,
After our meditation period this Thursday evening, we will recite the Five Mindfulness Trainings. We will follow this with a guided meditation and discussion of the Fourth Training, which focuses on loving speech and deep listening:
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.
Knowing that words can create happiness or suffering, I am committed to learning to speak truthfully, with words that inspire self-confidence, joy, and hope. I will not spread news that I do not know to be certain and will not criticize or condemn things of which I am not sure. I will refrain from uttering words that can cause division or discord, or that can cause the family or the community to break. I will make all efforts to reconcile and resolve all conflicts, however small.
This training has been the center of my life for many, many years. A commitment to deep listening and loving speech has influenced my work as a professional writer and, in recent years, this aspiration for mindful communication has been supported by studying and teaching Nonviolent Communication.
In my experience, the way people communicate with others is a reflection of the way they listen and talk to themselves. So, if we seek to bring loving speech and deep listening to the world, where better to begin than with ourselves?
What do your internal dialogues sound like? How do you encourage yourself when you feel challenged? What do you say to yourself when you are unable to live according to your own values? How easy is it for you to listen to your own disappointment, grief, fear, anger? What do you say to yourself when you experience these emotions?
Listening to ourselves and to others is a profound practice. As we increase our capacity for acceptance, compassion, and presence, we can more easily hear what is being said and as well as what is unsaid. And, simultaneously, we develop greater clarity and ease in lovingly expressing what is in our hearts.
Below is an excerpt from the Plum Village Chanting Book. For more than a decade these words have guided me in learning how to listen more deeply, not just to others, but also to myself. And they invite me to ask myself, “What am I listening for? What am I trying to hear? How do I stay present when prejudice, judgment and reaction arise in me? How do I listen to myself with care?” We will address these questions together on Thursday.
The best times to join our Thursday evening gatherings are just before the beginning of our 7 p.m. meditation, just before we begin walking meditation, around 7:25, and just after our walking meditation, around 7:35.
You are also invited to join other Still Water friends this Thursday, before our sitting, at our “Third Thursday Supper.” It takes place around the corner from Crossings, at Moby Dick Restaurant, (909 Ellsworth Drive), beginning at 5:30 p.m. All are welcome. if you have questions please contact Maria Sgambati at 202 486-6491. Otherwise just show up.
Invoking the Bodhisattvas’ Names
From The Plum Village Chanting Book, Compiled by Thich Nhat Hanh and the Monks and Nuns of Plum Village
We invoke your name, Avalokiteshvara.
We aspire to learn your way of listening in order to help relieve the suffering in the world. You know how to listen in order to understand.
We invoke your name in order to practice listening with all our attention and open-heartedness.
We will sit and listen without prejudice. We will sit and listen without judging or reacting.
We will sit and listen in order to understand. We will sit and listen so attentively that we will be able to hear what the other person is saying and also what is being left unsaid.
We know that just by listening deeply we already alleviate a great deal of pain and suffering in the other person.