[From Marsha: Once in a workshop I expressed stress about the thoughts always running in my mind with complaints, judging self and others, blaming, figuring how to lose weight, worried about this and that. So I asked Dr. Bob how I could stop the constant chatter. He asked me just to listen; and the room became quiet for a few moments Then he asked me what I heard. Here is that idea of a “listening exercise and experiment” embellished from an older workshop. He called it:]
Degrees of awareness
This time we’ll talk about degrees of awareness. – degrees of perception.
When we look at things, we have a big impression and immediately begin to want to know “why this happened and how it happened”; and, of course, we get concerned with the results of the pictures we’ve created in our minds. Then we conjure up all sorts of explanations, of “how I can make it go away” and “how I can keep it from happening again” — and truly speaking, very seldom does anything happen over and over again in just the same way.
Most minds are constantly going over situations, events and people’s motives and then conjuring up pictures which we then almost instantly accept as fact just because we thought it up. When you are aware this is happening, there is a very lovely beautiful thing to do. If you will listen closely with no explanations, the mind becomes quiet. So one can listen and observe to see — not trying to solve something but merely seeing the essential fact as you see it in the present moment.
Very few have time for the mind to be totally quiet so immediately we start inventing answers until we’re totally lost in them; and then we attempt to find some technique to change it . So sometimes it’s kind of interesting to let the mind go quiet. Now you don’t “make it quiet” because that’s conflict – you “allow it to be quiet” by listening or observing.
When you do this, you see relationships you have never seen before; and you can see the direction something is going. If our mind is quiet — “absent from any reasoning” — then there is perception beyond all the things that the busy mind prevented. We have lived with the busy mind for years which prevents ever understanding.
It’s a simple practice. So let’s try that for a few moments and listen real close as an experiment – [there is silence in the room while everyone listened] And your mind went what? Was it noisy or was it in a real peaceful state? If you do that for a little while, you’re aware of all sorts of things you’ve never seen before — you’re more perceptive. You can’t see too many things at one time. In other words you can’t listen and think at the same time.
Now when the mind is quiet, it is an empty vessel. When it is full, you can’t get anything else in there, I don’t’ care how much is sittin’ here available for you to be aware of. And how many avenues of awareness do we have for all of those possible perceptions.
Now at first when you start listenin’ you’ll see it as result. But if you just practice listening, pretty soon you can listen a lot. It’s like living in an entirely different world because there is so many wonderful things going on that we never knew existed. In this, you won’t see the future, you only see the probability of something; and so it doesn’t necessarily go that way. Then you can experience a great value to it.
So you can pursue the idea of “what’s going on”. In this way, you are in an attitude of listening and you’ll find a quiet mind which is natural. In that natural state you perceive a whole new world that you’ve never seen before.
Next time you want to experiment with listening, instead of asking “why”, ask “what’s going on” and just let it remain quiet if you wanna ask a question. “Why” questions are not valid because it begins an endless loop in the brain that is unanswerable. Asking “what’s going on here” or “what am I doing” will work much better. But one can just leave it alone, okay? Just stay in the quiet.
[from Marsha…Following up on my question in the workshop at the beginning of this excerpt, when Dr. Bob asked me to listen — he then asked what I heard; and I said the birds outside and an air conditioner running. Then he asked what I was thinking, but the thoughts had quit. It switches the attention; and I’ve discovered that I can certainly get hypnotized by the thoughts that ramble around in the head. I’ve also discovered that when I pay attention to “what I am doing” physically such as practicing piano, it brings me back into the now rather than hearing the mind chatter about some past event, even if it was an hour ago, or planning or predicting some future event. And how many things have I planned that rarely, if at all, turned out the way I pictured them.
Sometimes, when I can remember, I like to take another step in the listening exercise. If I can drop thinking about what I want to say in conversations, I can more clearly hear what the other person is saying. It is then even more difficult for me to listen to “what I say”. I think my conversations would be less confusing to others which I have noticed on occasions that I do – especially if I’m excited. I’ve even had people mirror back what I said; and it’s completely different from what I meant to say. One day I had just played “Moonglow” and the next song was “Moon River”. I announced the name of the song as the former – “Moonglow”. The audience called me on it and said “No, that was Moon River”. I, then, saw what happens when I’m not paying attention to what I say. Just a little demonstration of the direction things go when I’m not paying attention and the mind is trying to encompass too much at the same time whether it’s following a conversation, trying to “fix” something or whatever.
Comments from a friend who shared a similar story of a conversation with Dr. Bob.
“Thank you for sharing your observations and the experiment. He told me that one while we were having coffee at his apartment one day. “Listen!” he said. “What do you hear?” I told him the sounds inside and outside the house I heard. “Now do it again and listen to what’s being said inside.” I immediately identified with the thoughts. He must have known that and said, “Listen CAREFULLY, don’t just watch.” I did it again and listened for the not-I’s talk and they went mute. I’ve used that tool ever since. Plus I’ve offered it to a few people who somehow recognize even in some small way that they are NOT their thoughts.
And somewhere along the way I heard this little idea.
Listening phrase – Be like water
Water is fluid allowing people or situations to be as they are without judging or trying to change them — yet still listening untroubled — it is reflective.