October 16 Deep Listening


This Monday night Mick will facilitate.

Last week a number of sangha members went to a weekend retreat taught by Anam Thubten. Among his many teachings,

one in particular stood out. Of the thousands of practices encountered on the spiritual path, he highlighted one particular practice of self inquiry. This practice involves coming back to the present moment and checking in with yourself many times a day to ask "what is the state of my mind?". This is an inquiry that can only be examined through the practice of

deep listening.With deep listening we can take this self inquiry a step further and deeper to observe and attend to the mind, thoughts and emotions. Throughout the course of each day, from the moment we awaken, until the moment that we fall asleep, we are inundated with inner and outer chatter. The consumption of what we hear and what we listen too has a profound effect on the state of our minds. There are days when our minds are like a ship at sea being tossed about by the waves. Mindfulness practice, and specifically the practice of deep listening can help us to find stillness amidst the waves.

Thay (Thich Nhat Hanh) talks about engaging in deep or compassionate listening with the ones we love. In an interview with Oprah Winfrey he said:



Deep listening is the kind of listening that can help relieve the suffering of another person. You can call it compassionate listening. You listen with only one purpose: to help him or her to empty her heart. You don’t argue. If you do, she loses her chance. You just listen with compassion and help her to suffer less. One hour like that can bring transformation and healing.


The practice of deep listening is at the heart and the core of mindfulness practice. Thay teaches that your sitting practice is composed of, and generates mindfulness, concentration and insight. These three energies come about through learning to listen deeply to ourselves. Before we can be there to listen deeply to a loved one, we need to come home to ourselves and listen deeply. We can take the instructions for listening deeply to a loved one as instructions for ourselves. In a talk from 1991, Thay spoke again about deep listening and relieving suffering. 


We all know that if we love someone, if we truly want to make someone happy, the first thing we must cultivate is the art of listening, because listening is very healing. If we spend time listening to the pain of the person we love, he or she will be relieved. And listening without judging releases pain.

Practice listening with all our attention and open heartedness. We will sit and listen without any 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 the other person is leaving unsaid. We know that, just by listening deeply, we alleviate a great deal of pain and suffering in the other person.’


Usually we are able to listen practice open hearted listening towards others more easily than towards ourselves. As we look into deep listening we can ask ourselves a few questions.

When and how do I listen to myself. Do I listen often? Without judging?  What do I do when I recognize the state of my mind?

When and how do I listen to the people in my life?  Do I listen often? Without judging? How do I respond or react when I listen to the people in my life.


I look forward to our sharing on deep listening this Monday night.


Below is a link with a 3 minute excerpt of Thay talking with Oprah about deep listening