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I listen to music.  A lot.  While I’m cooking, writing, reading the news online, cleaning, driving, or doing yard work I have music on.  I find that music helps me to practice joy throughout the day.  It can also help me to process through difficult emotions and get in touch with challenges I am facing.  Music can be very powerful and healing.  And it can also cultivate a lot of strife and harm if we are inattentive to its effects on our mental state.  For instance, I love love love the musician Bon Iver.  His voice and melodies are hauntingly beautiful.  But I started noticing that when I listened to his music my disposition would change.  I would suddenly become more downhearted and sullen.  I enjoyed his music so much that not only did it take me a while to connect the dots in terms of how I felt during and after listening to him but it also took a while for me to decide to stop listening to him because I didn’t like how the music affected me.  Music, like any media influence, has the capacity to uplift us or sink us down and it’s important to understand ourselves well enough to know which does what to us so that we are able to water the most skillful seeds within us and flourish with more ease.

After I cooked myself a wonderful vegetarian dinner earlier tonight I was struck by musical inspiration and hopped onto youtube in order to look up some of my old favorite songs I hadn’t heard in a while.  I plugged my laptop into our large guitar amp so that I could listen to the music the best way I think it should be experienced – loudly!  I mean really, some songs simply need to be loud in order to do them justice.  You cannot listen to Pink Floyd on lousy laptop speakers, it just won’t do I’m afraid.

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Posted by on April 26, 2014 in Everyday Practice

 

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Mindful Speech & Deep Listening, Part 1

Listening

For the last 5 weeks I’ve been teaching a class I call MIndfulness Matters through our adult learning center here in town.  I’ve been teaching these class series for the last 4 years or so.  I focus on a different element of mindfulness each week and this week’s topic is mindful speech and deep listening.  In order to help prepare I thought I would write out some of my thoughts and subject matter here.

The greatest gift we can offer someone is our true and full presence and two of the most important tools that we can cultivate in order to do this are mindful speech and deep listening.  Mindful speech is the use of words that help inspire self-confidence, joy, inclusiveness, and connection.  Deep listening is the ability to listen in such a way where we are free of judgement and a need to react.

If we don’t know how to practice mindful speech and deep listening towards ourselves we will only be so effective when we direct these skill sets towards others.  Many of us have a very negative internal dialogue that is directed at ourselves.  This internal voice is often operating on an unconscious level and can be very active throughout the day.  A few common examples of negative self-talk include statements like, “I can’t believe I just did that, I’m so stupid!” or “I look awful today, I’m so fat.” or “Gosh, what is wrong with me today, I can’t do anything right.”

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