January 29 The 5 Mindfulness Trainings



This Monday, Camille will facilitate.  She shares:


Welcome to Monday evening with the Opening Heart Mindfulness Community.  This evening we will read the Five Mindfulness Trainings together.  The Five Mindfulness Trainings are one of the most concrete ways to practice mindfulness.  They are nonsectarian, and their nature is universal. They are true practices of compassion and understanding, that can lead to healing, transformation, and happiness for ourselves and the world.  These trainings are not commandments or dogma, but are guidelines or suggestions to help support our mindfulness practice as a compass to orient our lives.  All spiritual traditions have their equivalent to the Five Mindfulness Trainings.


To read all Five Mindfulness Trainings, please visit our sangha's website.


This evening I would like to focus on the fourth training, Loving Speech and Deep Listening.  A few months ago I facilitated with you and focused on "Truthfulness and Loving Speech".  So this evening I would like to share some thoughts and words about Deep Listening.  Thich Nhat Hanh talks about deep listening and loving speech as a way to "restore communication and reconcile".  When I shared last time about the practice of loving speech and truthfulness - I didn't share that I hadn't truly come to terms with deep listening which is the first step to true communication.   I'm pretty sure I can speak lovingly and kindly - and express myself for others to understand me - but I know from personal experience that deep listening has to come first.  I am often hearing others but not always listening with compassion and non-judgement.


My lack of ability to listen deeply sometimes seems to come from fear.  I am afraid if I listen to a loved one or a friend too deeply that I will have to solve a problem, or give advice, or agree when I don't really want to agree.  I guess in some way I have not "transformed my inner suffering, hatred or fear" as Thay offers.  It really does prevent me from understanding others, and making peace with them and therefore it becomes difficult to sustain more meaningful relationships.


This paragraph from Thay's book "Happiness" struck a chord with me:


"You have to practice breathing mindfully in and out so that compassion always stays with you.  You listen without giving advice or passing judgment.  You can say to the other person, "I am listening to him because I want to relieve his suffering."  This is called compassionate listening.  You have to listen in such a way that compassion remains with you the whole time you are listening.  That is the art.  If halfway through listening, irritation or anger comes up, then you cannot continue to listen. You have to practice in such a way that every time the energy of irritation and anger comes up, you can breathe in and out mindfully and continue to hold compassion in you.  It is with compassion that you can listen to another."  No matter what the other person says, even if there is a lot of  strong information and injustice in his ways of seeing things, even if he condemns or blames you, continue to sit very quietly breathing in and out."  I guess this is the secret of making peace with others and the world - offering them an opportunity to be heard.


It would be wonderful to hear from you on Monday evening - and also a wonderful opportunity to practice our ability to offer deep listening to one another.


Please enjoy this poem "Deep Listening"  by Mary-Elizabeth Cotton:


Let us listen....


            Just for awhile

            let us silence our minds

            and open our hearts


            Just for awhile

            let us listen from within




            not to gain knowledge

            not to formulate questions



Look forward to seeing you soon,  with love, Camille