"Everything around us— everything that happens around us and to us— is continuously telling us something. To be able to hear that message, we first need to discover that it exists."2 We need to be present.
So, what happens between "Everything around us... is continuously telling us something" and the fact that we do not hear the message? Why is this so difficult, since we are born hard-wired to connect? Could the words "we first need to discover that it exists" hold the answer?
We are often made aware of the existence of life's lessons the hard way—through painful repeated experiences—until we awaken to the message. It seems that the same situation is placed before us again and again. The context can change, but the internal situation is the same: same feelings, same reactions (usually full of self-justification), same sort of outcome, and we still don't hear. So maybe, just maybe, we need to find out what is interfering with our hearing.
In the section More about Listening, Jorge Waxemberg states:"We also need to avoid putting up barriers between what we hear and what we understand," and he points out that unsaid words are "the key to the art of listening."3 These unsaid words are our underlying intentions, and they, along with our expectations and fears, act as filters, conditioning how we understand what we hear and how we respond.
To understand ourselves more clearly, Jorge Waxemberg suggests that we:
1. Restrain our verbal defenses and avoid being carried away by impulses.
2. Gain distance from our reactions and develop the ability to restrain and guide them.
3. Move our mental flow into a deeper plane so it does not interfere with our ability to understand what we are hearing.
4. Go beyond what we want, because when we want something, we close ourselves off to every message we could receive from the person who is speaking.
These exercises of listening begin NOW. We have nowhere else to go to begin them, no mountain top or retreat house. All we have to do is reflect and listen to our own thoughts. We already have everything we need: our experiences. We can reflect on and analyze our past actions and words, objectively look at the outcome and correct our response in the presence of this moment. By freeing ourselves from past reactions, we learn from our lives and can live fully in the present.
In correspondence with the author of this article, Jorge Waxemberg highlighted the connection between Presence and the Eternal:
"Presence is to become aware that we exist in the continuum of the present, and that each instant of this present is the only one in which we can achieve consciousness of being, beyond what we may believe we are. Only then we can understand that we live in eternity because we are in the eternal present.
1. This article is based on the section More about Listening in the book Words Matter by Jorge Waxemberg. The book can be downloaded from the official Cafh site: www.cafh.org.
2. p. 105.
3. p. 100.
*Cafh books in printed form are available from Amazon.com.