Two things arose for this Practice Corner article.
First, I just returned from the Seasons of Joy retreat at the Monastery. As you probably know, the Monastery is offering this retreat once a season this year as an opportunity to participate in the maintenance of the grounds, work that the residents simply can't get to on their own. What a wonderful privilege to practice in this way – with a schedule that includes not only working meditation but workshops, groups, guidance, yoga and lots of free time. Conditioning would never have guessed that a "maintenance retreat" could be so satisfying, rejuvenating, relaxing, productive, restful and fun. (When I told one friend I was going to the Monastery she asked, "You're not going to have to work, are you?")
My wish is that everyone will give themselves the gift of participating in one of these retreats this year—in spite of what the voices say—to give back to the Monastery that has given us so much. You will discover, yet again, that you receive so much more. (And if you're lucky, you too can have the most incredibly delicious lima beans ever. Yes, lima beans!)
Second, in the embracing silence of the Monastery, I read this Daily Peace Quote:
How do I listen to others? As if everyone were my Master speaking to me her cherished last words. –Hafiz
I was so moved because this experience of deep listening is what I have received from this Practice over and over again, and because listening in this way is what I aspire to.
I am astounded at how powerful the practice of reflective listening is and the profound transformations that occur because of it. I am moved again and again at the deep respect this Practice shows to all through the practice of listening, honoring the inherent wisdom that lives in each of us, and through that listening, allowing us to discover the wisdom within. From the beginning, the Guide has made it crystal clear that this wisdom is not personal: It is available to all of us. What an exquisite gift. I am so moved to hear this in action with any facilitation—Project Joy, Open Air, groups, etc.
This Practice has taught me that when others come to me for advice, that's not what they are asking for. And I have the opportunity—through reflective listening—to offer the gift of directing them to their own internal wisdom.
And then of course, there are no “others” and we have the opportunity—through Recording and Listening—to offer that deep listening to ourselves.
What a privilege it is to practice. And what a privilege it is to practice with this Sangha.