They're Not Listening 
November 29, 2015

We all have the experience that “they” are not listening, whether it's your mate, your work partners, vendors or clients, or the wider community. This experience is often frustrating, sometimes invalidating and tends to provoke reaction and further disconnection. Whatever the situation, when our desire to speak and be heard is thwarted or derailed, the relational conditions usually decline further.

The normal next step is to look at what is off or wrong with them. We usually see: disrespect, distraction, thick-headedness, clinging to a position, defensiveness, avoiding, competing, etc… And the moment we move to try influencing them, to try and slip around their stuff, to try and say it louder or differently, we enter into fighting-mind, separate from them further, and things get worse.

The move we rarely make is to see our result (they are not listening) and receive it as OUR result. Not in a self-blaming way, but in an open-curiosity way. For sure the world is distracted and all the rest. But by turning our curiosity within and gently looking into our own bodymind, we can find a powerful place to begin unwinding the situation. “Am I in a condition that favors a listening response from others?”

We know from Aikido that the condition of our bodymind always influences our partner. If we are contracted (annoyed, trying to win, frustrated, righteous…) and mind has separated into thinking-about, then the aikido is bumpy, grabby, and unpleasant, no matter how correct the form might be. And we practice making a fresh start the moment we notice we are disharmonious. We relax our body tension and mental tension, bring our awareness back into our one-point (center), and extending ki, opening our awareness to the changes around us. At first this unification takes a step by step effort. But with practice it can be almost instantaneous. And the results are stunning. The moment unification is present, our partner changes and the situation opens.

So, they are not listening? Make a fresh start within yourself: establish mind body unification (let go, relax, be present in the body, feel outward), and then look into what might have been happening. Was I forceful? Being right? Trying to change them? Disappointed? Or maybe disconnected, or lost within myself, or possibly uninvested? Was I unconsciously withholding my ki? Or maybe speaking with a negative teasing vibe? Was I seeking approval? Whatever it might have been, however I was unconsciously increasing the discord, all of this is a good time to practice an aware embrace and unification.

Beginning to see our own patterns that thwart connection and communication is very useful. We can move into positive relations with our revealed patterns. Don’t fight them — be kind and connected. Treat these old patterns like you would like to be treated. This extending of kindness engenders inner conditions of nonviolence.

Each time we make a fresh start to create positive conditions for listening, we alter the environment and invite new listening from others. Does it always work? Does it work fast enough? Sometimes yes, and sometimes not so much. It is an art to be practiced and we can get better and better at it.

With such practice we relax any inner desperation to be heard. We practice receiving ourselves (experiencing our inner contractions and energy flows) and stop making others responsible for receiving us. And this really opens things up for others. We listen more, notice the tone of their speaking, and learn to move gracefully with them. The more we are centered, embodied, and unified, the more generous our listening. And low and behold, the listening around us opens up naturally. It’s amazing how that works.

The practices in Ki Class cultivate this listening, this inner nonviolence, this relaxed unification that thereby opens conditions around us.

May your practice go well.





© Steve Self, 2016, All rights reserved.