Archive for May, 2011

Posted: May 29, 2011 in Quotes
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Progress is not defined by what we consume.

  • It’s a mistake to let any one thing about yourself become that important. It can be dangerous. It can make you forget your weakness. It can make you believe what other people say about you or need from you more than what you know to be the truth. You start to make promises you can’t keep.
  • Where does a runner run when he has arrived at the only finish line he doesn’t want to cross?
  • Thank you for the gift of your story.
  • If you don’t admit your confusion you’ll never learn anything that you don’t already know.
  • When rain falls into a river, how does it know which way to flow? When a mouse leaves its hole, how does it ever get back? When a bird flied away for the winter, how does it locate its nest when it returns in the spring?…Because they know not to think!
    • Your body will remember where it has been if you let it. It recalls what’s familiar – but not as your mind does. With you mind you stand outside the world and look in. With your body you are inside already.
  • When all is in movement, you eventually notice the thing that is still.
  • But the most clever trap of all is the one that does not kill, that only holds the prey until the hunter comes to claim the prize.
  • It would not be polite to repeatedly ask something a person is not ready to tell. It would embarrass both people involved.

Blocks to Listening

Posted: May 25, 2011 in Multimedia
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There are twelve blocks to listening. You will find that some are old favourites that you use over and over, while others are held in reserve for certain types of people or situations. Everyone uses listening blocks, so you shouldn’t worry if a lot of blocks seem familiar. Being aware of your blocks to listening is the first step towards becoming a more effective listener.

1. Comparing

Comparing makes it hard to listen because you are always trying to assess who is smarter, more competent, more emotionally healthy – you or the other. Some people focus on who has suffered more, who’s a bigger victim. While someone is talking, you think to yourself: “Could I do it that well? . . . I’ve had it harder, he doesn’t know what hard is . . . I earn more than that . . . My kids are so much brighter.” You can’t let much in because you’re too busy seeing if you measure up.

2. Mind Reading

The mind reader doesn’t pay much attention to what people say. In fact, she often distrusts it. She’s trying to figure out what the other person is really thinking and feeling. “She says she wants to go to the show, but I’ll bet she’s tired and wants to relax. She might be resentful if I pushed her when she doesn’t want to go”. The mind reader pays less attention to words than to intonations and subtle clues (real or imagined) in an effort to see through to the truth.

If you are a mind reader, you probably make assumptions about how people react to you. “I bet she’s looking at my lousy skin . . . he thinks I’m stupid . . . She’s turned off by my shyness”. These notions are born of intuition, hunches, and vague misgivings, but have little to do with what the person actually says to you.

3. Rehearsing

You don’t have time to listen when you’re rehearsing what to say. Your whole attention is on the preparation and crafting of your next comment. You have to look interested, but your mind is going a mile a minute because you’ve got a story to tell, or a point to make. Some people rehearse whole chains of responses: “I’ll say, then he’ll say, then I’ll say” and so on.

4. Filtering

When you filter, you listen to some things and not to others. You pay only enough attention to see if somebody’s angry, or unhappy, or if you’re in emotional danger. Once assured that the communication contains none of these things, you let your mind wander. One woman listens just enough to her son to learn whether he is fighting again at school. Relieved to hear he isn’t, she begins thinking about her shopping list. A young man quickly ascertains what kind of mood his partner is in. If he seems happy as he describes his day, the young man’s thoughts begin wandering.

Another way people filter is simply to avoid hearing certain things – particularly anything threatening, negative, critical, or unpleasant. It’s as if the words were never said: You simply have no memory of them.

5. Judging

Negative labels have enormous power. If you prejudge someone as stupid or nuts or unqualified, you don’t pay much attention to what they say. You’ve already written them off. Hastily judging a statement as immoral, hypocritical, fascist, lazy, or stupid means you’ve ceased to listen and have begun a “knee-jerk” reaction. A basic rule of listening is that judgements should only be made after you have heard and evaluated the content of the message.

6. Dreaming

You’re half-listening, and something the person says suddenly triggers a chain of private associations. Your neighbour says she’s been laid off, and in a flash you’re back to the scene where you got fired for playing hearts on those long coffee breaks. Hearts is a great game, there were the great nights of hearts years ago on Sutter Street. And you’re gone, only to return a few minutes later as your neighbour says, “I knew you’d understand, but don’t tell my husband”.

You are more prone to dreaming when you feel bored or anxious. Everybody dreams, and you sometimes need to make herculean efforts to stay tuned in. But if you dream a lot with certain people, it may indicate a lack of commitment to knowing or appreciating them. At the very least, it’s a statement that you don’t value what they have to say very much.

7. Identifying

In this block, you take everything a person tells you and refer it back to your own experience. They want to tell you about a toothache, but that reminds you of the time you had oral surgery for receding gums. You launch into your story before they can finish theirs. Everything you hear reminds you of something that you’ve felt, done, or suffered. You’re so busy with these exciting tales of your life that there’s no time to really hear or get to know the other person.

8. Advising

You are the great problem-solver, ready with help and suggestions. You don’t have to hear more than few sentences before you begin searching for the right advice. However, while you are cooking up suggestions and convincing someone to “just try it”, you may miss what’s most important. You didn’t hear the feelings, and you didn’t acknowledge the person’s pain. He or she still feels basically alone because you couldn’t listen and just be there.

9. Sparring

This block has you arguing and debating with people. The other person never feels heard because you’re so quick to disagree. You take strong stands, are very clear about your beliefs and preferences. The way to avoid sparring is to repeat back and acknowledge what you’ve heard. Look for one thing you might agree with. One subtype of sparring is the put-down. You use acerbic or sarcastic remarks to dismiss the other person’s view. For example, Helen starts telling Arthur about her problems in biology class. Arthur says: “When are you going to have the brains to drop that class?” Al is feeling overwhelmed with the noise from the TV. When he tells Rebecca, she says, “Oh god, not the TV routine again”. The put-down is the standard block to listening in many long term relationships. It quickly pushes the communication into stereotyped patterns where each person repeats a familiar hostile litany.

A second type of sparring is discounting. Discounting is for people who can’t stand compliments. “Oh, I didn’t do anything . . . What do you mean, I was totally lame . . .It’s nice of you to say, but it’s really a very poor attempt”. The basic technique of discounting is to run yourself down when you get a compliment. The other person never feels satisfied that you really heard her appreciation. And she’s right – you didn’t.

10. Being Right

Being right means you will go to any lengths (twist the facts, start shouting, make excuses or accusations, call up past sins) to avoid being wrong. You can’t listen to criticism, you can’t be corrected, and you can’t take suggestions to change. Your convictions are unshakable. And since you won’t acknowledge your mistakes, you just keep making them.

11. Derailing

This listening block is accomplished by suddenly changing the subject. You derail the train of conversation when you get bored or uncomfortable with a topic. Another way of derailing is by joking it off. This means that you continually respond to whatever is said with a joke or quip in order to avoid the discomfort or anxiety in seriously listening to the other person.

12. Placating

“Right . . . right . . . absolutely . . . I know . . . Of course you are . . . Incredible . . .yes . . . really?” You want to be nice, pleasant, and supportive. You want people to like you so you agree with everything. You may half-listen, just enough to get the drift, but you’re not really involved. You are placating rather than tuning in and examining what’s being said.

The Invitation by Oriah

Posted: May 24, 2011 in Poetry
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It doesn’t interest me
what you do for a living.
I want to know
what you ache for
and if you dare to dream
of meeting your heart’s longing.

It doesn’t interest me
how old you are.
I want to know
if you will risk
looking like a fool
for love
for your dream
for the adventure of being alive.

It doesn’t interest me
what planets are
squaring your moon…
I want to know
if you have touched
the centre of your own sorrow
if you have been opened
by life’s betrayals
or have become shrivelled and closed
from fear of further pain.

I want to know
if you can sit with pain
mine or your own
without moving to hide it
or fade it
or fix it.

I want to know
if you can be with joy
mine or your own
if you can dance with wildness
and let the ecstasy fill you
to the tips of your fingers and toes
without cautioning us
to be careful
to be realistic
to remember the limitations
of being human.

It doesn’t interest me
if the story you are telling me
is true.
I want to know if you can
disappoint another
to be true to yourself.

If you can bear
the accusation of betrayal
and not betray your own soul.
If you can be faithless
and therefore trustworthy.

I want to know if you can see Beauty
even when it is not pretty
every day.
And if you can source your own life
from its presence.

I want to know
if you can live with failure
yours and mine
and still stand at the edge of the lake
and shout to the silver of the full moon,
“Yes.”

It doesn’t interest me
to know where you live
or how much money you have.
I want to know if you can get up
after the night of grief and despair
weary and bruised to the bone
and do what needs to be done
to feed the children.

It doesn’t interest me
who you know
or how you came to be here.
I want to know if you will stand
in the centre of the fire
with me
and not shrink back.

It doesn’t interest me
where or what or with whom
you have studied.
I want to know
what sustains you
from the inside
when all else falls away.

I want to know
if you can be alone
with yourself
and if you truly like
the company you keep
in the empty moments.

Posted: May 24, 2011 in Quotes
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Conquer the angry man by love.
Conquer the ill-natured man by goodness.
Conquer the miser with generosity.
Conquer the liar with truth.

Neither wandering naked, nor matted locks, nor filth, nor fasting, nor lying on the ground, nor dust, nor ashes, nor striving squatting on the heels, can purify a mortal who has not overcome doubts.

– The Dhammapada

Donkey and Self-Reliance

Posted: May 24, 2011 in Short Stories

There once was a farmer who thought he was spending too much for food for his donkey. So he decided to try an experiment in self-reliance. He reasoned that if he gradually weaned the donkey off food, he could save an enormous amount of money, and the donkey would never notice that it was getting less and less to eat each day. The project was a success until the last day, when the farmer did not feed the donkey at all. The ungrateful wretch promptly died.

Posted: May 24, 2011 in Quotes
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I do not underestimate the perils threatening industrial society, though I think that some of the people who warn us about environmental crisis have got their perspectives wrong. Indeed, I think they are wrong to call it a crisis at all. A crisis is a situation that will pass; it can be resolved by temporary hardship, temporary adjustment, technological and political expedients. What we are experiencing is not a crisis, it is a climacteric. For the rest of man’s history on earth, so far as one can foretell, he will have to live with problems of population, of resources, of pollution. And the seminal problem remains unsolved: Can man adapt himself to anticipate environmental constraints? Or will he (like other animal societies) adapt himself only in response to the constraints after they have begun to hurt?

– Eric Ashby, Speech at Stanford University in 1978

Posted: May 24, 2011 in Quotes
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The development of civilization, an exceptionally rapid event on the time scale of geological history, has radically changed the outlook for the future existence of the biosphere.

– M.L. Budyko

Posted: May 24, 2011 in Quotes
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The future enters into us, in order to transform itself in us, long before it happens.

– Rainer Maria Rilke

Posted: May 24, 2011 in Quotes

In theory, theory and practice are the same. In practice, however, they are not.

– Anonymous