Inner  Frontier
Fourth Way Spiritual Practice

 

Inner Work


For the week of March 20, 2006


Being in Conversation

So many conversations each day, some brief, some lengthy, but all afford an opportunity for presence. A basic issue to address is awareness of what’s going on in ourselves as we engage in a conversation. Any verbal exchange has great power to draw us to the shallow layers of our being, into a state of identification. That action moves quickly. Before we know it, we completely lose ourselves in the event.

When the other person speaks, do I listen attentively or am I distracted in formulating what I will say next, in anxiously looking for my chance to say something, or in nurturing my own inner commentary? Are my emotions reacting to the other person or persons? For example, does an emotional wall of anger, fear, grasping, or indifference, inferiority or superiority arise within me, separating me from the other? Can I let it go and be clear and openhearted toward this person before me? If I have an agenda, can I still be there? Can I relax and just be?

To be in conversation means first of all to be. We let the presence of the other person remind us to settle into our own presence, out of respect for us both. Being in our own presence affords an opportunity to open further, into the shared presence of the conversation, of being together. The real exchange then takes place not in the words, but within that shared presence. Beneath the words and the appearances, beneath the agendas and reactions, we enter a stillness that embraces us both. We connect by letting go of the inner separation. Being able to converse well with people, paves the way toward conversing with God.

When in conversation this week, practice being there with the other person.


     

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