Open hearted listening

From: Michael Helsher
Date: Wed Dec 10, 2003 10:21 am
Subject: Open hearted listening

My wife and I recently went to a couples workshop put on by the people at : http://www.heartworkcenter.com/ . Who teach a technique( among others) they call "open hearted listening". At first this might sound quite simple, at least that's what I thought... "oh yeah, I do that all the time" I said to my self. Problem was that I was usually listening to myself, with an open heart (sort of).

Indeed my engagement with Anthroposophy thus far has put an emphasis on the idea of "heart thinking", and so I set about trying to listen to what my heart would tell me. In a similar fashion, I had done this for many years. It was a necessary phase that I had to go through, and I did it in ways that were not dogmatically connected to any anthroposophical writings. Learning to pay some attention to my own inner life came mostly from a twelve- step fellowship, but there were also many different counselors over the years, and a couple of years spent on a new-age vision-quest.

And though I would occasionally ponder the idea of "do on to others..." I was, for the most part, always preoccupied with...

Me.

So low and behold I start my foundation studies and I say, "hey, I'm pretty good at this stuff; this really jives with my inner-life experiences; I think I'm partially clairvoyant!" (Of course we are all somewhat clairvoyant if we have the ability to think). I devoured "A Philosophy of Freedom" and made sure that everyone in our little Waldorf community new it. However I was a little puzzled by the wide eyed looks that I got from most people that I tried to talk to about my new Bible. I would think... "don't you know that this the philosophical foundation... "

So, a week and a half into my first four week summer intensive of a Waldorf High school training program, my marriage to my wonderful wife explodes. And there I am, left with the most important person in my life...

Me.

I was lucky enough to have some wonderful teachers; One of which was Dennis Kloechek (sp?). He gave a wonderful talk on the basics of "A Philosophy of Freedom", but he also went on to say that we need to consider also a little book called: "Anthroposophy, a Fragment" (one that I have yet to read fully), in which Steiner tries to put into words, the problem of perception when confronted with the " I " of the other.

So it's not just "not I, but Christ in me"; it's also "not you, but Christ in you....too".

Sounds good but how do we do it? Well, I have recently experienced the beginning of a new kind of communication; a kind of communication that does not only involve (you guessed it)...

Me.

My wife asks me: "Are you willing to listen with an open heart?" In answering "yes" to her question I am committing to putting myself aside and listening. Sounds easy so far right? So she then tries to voice her grievances in an objective way; being as honest as possible as to how she feels. Still sounds easy don't it? But then she says something like: "I was really hurt when you stopped working last year, and we were broke, and couldn't pay the bills, or buy food".

Now the myriad of excuses starts to enter into my mind..."wait a minuet, don't you that I was volunteering at the school in hopes of getting a job? I did eventually find work and we did get caught up; you also got the cleaning contract for the school because of it...why can't you understand..."

"Me".

So I say to her: "You were really hurt when I stopped working last year, and we were broke, and couldn't pay the bills, or buy food". I continue to mirror her statements until she is finished with other related grievances. I then validate her feelings by saying something like:" I can completely understand why you would be upset about being broke. You are a mother to our children, and you need to feel secure about having a place to live, and having food on the table."

As simple as it sounds, I can say that it is not easy, and, like anything else, it takes allot of practice to get good at it. But I can also say that there was a deep satisfaction for me (and I will venture to say that it was so for my wife as well) in being heard and validated, without being judged.

What a practical way to really put into practice the idea of "living thinking".

So don't forget to "listen with an open heart".

Truth and Love

Mike Helsher

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From: Gisele
Date: Fri Dec 12, 2003 4:23 pm
Subject: Re: [anthroposophy_tomorrow] Open hearted listening

Michael Helsher <mhelsher@ne.rr.com> wrote:

So I say to her: "You were really hurt when I stopped working last year, and we were broke, and couldn't pay the bills, or buy food". I continue to mirror her statements until she is finished with other related grievances. I then validate her feelings by saying something like:" I can completely understand why you would be upset about being broke. You are a mother to our children, and you need to feel secure about having a place to live, and having food on the table."

~Well done Michael, you cannot imagine how envious I feel now! (Especially because if I don't feel secure and have no food on the table I can only complain to myself, so then I must listen to myself without letting myself taking over and then reply to the complaining myself not from myself out of work point of view but minding to care about myself.... ahi it's a bit complicated.)

As simple as it sounds, I can say that it is not easy, as I was saying, I wholeheartedly agree, and, like anything else, it takes allot of practice to get good at it.

I will try...../

But I can also say that there was a deep satisfaction for me (and I will venture to say that it was so for my wife as well) in being heard and validated, without being judged.

What a practical way to really put into practice the idea of "living thinking".

So don't forget to "listen with an open heart".

Truth and Love

Mike Helsher

Jokes apart, (it was true though) well done and triple cheers

Gisele

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