Step Sixty-Four

Roderick MacIver, Artist

Step 64. Today I Will Listen To Another.
On three separate occasions today, practice listening to another. Listen without evaluation and without judgment. Listen without your mind being distracted by anything else. Simply listen. Practice with three different individuals today. Practice listening. Be still when you listen. Attempt to hear beyond their words. Attempt to look beyond their appearance. Do not project images upon them. Just listen.

Practice today listening to another. Do not become engaged with what they are saying. You need not respond inappropriately to them, if they are speaking directly to you, in order to practice with them. You will be engaging your whole mind in your conversation. Take time, then, to practice listening without speaking. Allow others to express themselves to you. You will find that they have a greater communication for you than you might at first have anticipated. You do not need to figure this out. Simply practice listening today so that you may hear the presence of Knowledge.

Practice 64:
Three practice periods.

Here you will find the entire book free for download

Here you will find pointers for getting started if this is your first encounter with this practice: Taking the Steps to Knowledge.

January 25, 2013 Round One: This Step is proving difficult because I can’t find enough people to practice with! Boy, do I lead a sheltered life! However, I am practicing listening to the person I communicate with most on any given day and it is proving very illuminating.

Really listening to another person is an art because it is so easy to put one’s own slant on everything. I remember something my mother always used to repeat, “I know you think you understood what I just said, but what you heard is not actually what I meant” (something like that), now go figure (lol).

September 14, 2014 Round Two: It took more than one day to practice this Step because again, like the first time, I did not have enough people to practice with.

I am trying not to analyze this Step too much. Indeed, it says that I do not need to figure this out. All I need to do is practice listening. Listening is definitely a skill that needs to be cultivated. It is my experience that people are more invested in listening to the sound of their own voice than listening to others. Most people enjoy an opportunity to voice their own opinion. It does take concerted effort and concentration to really listen to someone else with no judgment, with no desire to put in one’s own two cents’ worth, no desire to comment or say something in response.

I am not sure I have cultivated this listening skill, honed it to the point where I am able to hear beyond the words spoken, listen without projecting images. I am not sure I am able to discern what is being said between the lines. And are people engaged in this investing what they say with hidden meaning? It takes continued practice to really hear what others are saying. I need to practice listening to others, practice, and keep on practicing.

The first time I did this Step, I recalled a phrase my mother liked to repeat. It turns out this is quite a famous phrase and has an author. His name is Robert McCloskey.

“I know that you believe you understand what you think I said, but I'm not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant.” 
August 26, 2018 Round Three: It is interesting I should be on this Step today after listening yesterday and the day before to two people in my close vicinity whose words do not always convey their actual deeds. I need to take their words with a pinch of salt. One is Sasha - he likes to bandy around words that have no substance in reality. He is a hot-air bag sometimes and I am finally (about time after 28 years of communal living) seeing beyond his words to the real meaning. Or should I say, I know his words have no real meaning half the time, he just likes to throw them out. The second is Volodya - his words too are veiled and there is a deeper meaning to be understood, one which he himself is unaware of.
I also listened to Lera and found it so illuminating. So I feel I have already been doing this Step before I actually came to it in reality. We will see if any opportunities come up today to listen to others.
I listened to Hilary, I listened to Elspeth, I listened to Sasha, or rather I listened to his silence. That spoke greater than any words.


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