On Learning to Listen

29 Sep

Listening. I got a lesson in “learning to listen” this week.  Not the physiological process of hearing.  But the art form of listening.  What does it look like?  What does it mean?  I made a really inane comment about listening a few days ago.  A reactionary comment, actually–and like most reactionary, mindless comments, it was a mere reflection of my inner condition at the moment.  Even though I thought I was deflecting attention elsewhere. Funny how that works.

The comment has come back to me daily in various forms, nudging me along.  Gently and not so gently.   It’s been humbling.  Then this morning Thich Nhat Hahn was interviewed on “Oh Being.” He spoke on compassionate listening. I googled for more. Knowing I needed to hear more. So here, a link… a three minute interview. Just what I needed to hear.    Even though there has been some discomfort around this–the comment and its fall-out–I’m totally in love with the way the universe provides.  What we need.  When we need it.  Uncanny. Miraculous even.

It’s been a  week of little shield samplers.  Little stories perhaps–about color and form and black walnut.  And learning about listening.shield4



Then this. Next year’s Swallowtail, I’m fairly certain.

17 Responses to “On Learning to Listen”

  1. debbie.weaver September 29, 2013 at 12:53 pm #

    Thanks for sharing this, a very moving interview. I love your shield with the bird.


    • Patricia September 29, 2013 at 7:16 pm #

      hi Debbie. knowing that Thich Naht Hahn draws one breath after the other–somehow makes things feel just oh so right. thanks for the comment on the bird shield. i’ve been doing this for years. putting birds on top of heads. no idea why. but it always tickles me. love to you.


  2. deanna7trees September 29, 2013 at 8:05 pm #

    yes, compassionate listening. it takes some time to learn to listen without making judgments or advising. allowing a person to just release what is within…a kind of cleanse. i’m loving all your shield samplers. a nice series.


    • Patricia September 30, 2013 at 9:20 am #

      hi Deanna. what a great surprise having you visit here. and yes, gentle, compassionate listening–something to practice for EVER.


  3. Mo Crow September 30, 2013 at 2:21 am #

    ah the listening
    imagine all the people…


  4. karmadondruplhamo, (grace) September 30, 2013 at 11:45 am #

    we are so alike. many of the “dolls” had birds on the head!!! and of course butterflies…
    they are wonderful. i love the first …
    and listening, well…
    it is a swallowtail. have you ever made their little thingy’s pop up? if you touch with a
    grass blade, just behind their head, these two little like antlers pop up???????


    • Patricia September 30, 2013 at 12:19 pm #

      well i’ll take that first sentence as a major compliment. and no, i’ve never tickled swallowtail caterpillars but i’m going out right now to see if i can. would love to see the two little things pop up. so much love to you.


  5. Joan September 30, 2013 at 3:17 pm #

    So…the art of listening…I listen to the words of your blog . Rather monumental as I read what you write and stare at your pictures. Comfort . Please keep “talking” … as I am listening.
    Today I gathered black walnuts for dyeing. You are teaching me.


    • Patricia September 30, 2013 at 5:46 pm #

      hi Wisconsin girl. right? good to hear from you again. the clip of Thicht Nhat Hahn really resonated with several people–and i’m so glad you enjoyed it as well. and as for black walnuts–they’re my very favorite. except for the odor.. love the smell of the green hulls, but ooooh-eeeee, once they’re dark and soaking in water, watch out. AND enjoy. so good to hear from you.


      • Joan September 30, 2013 at 7:03 pm #

        I just picked up a bucket of black walnuts( 30 miles from Antigo!!). The hulls are green. Should I set them aside to turn dark or make a dye with them now? I never mind about the odor.
        Once I create the dye, how long can I keep it?
        I will listen!!!!!


        • Patricia September 30, 2013 at 7:18 pm #

          hi Joan. i’ll tell you what i do, and then you might want to also google dyeing with black walnuts. usually i let the hulls soak in water until the water gets very dark. then i boil it for a bit. last year i didn’t boil the liquid/nut broth and there were lots of little white worms crawling around. so now i boil them. then i remove the hulls and sometimes use them to start another batch depending upon how much dye life is left in them. but then sometimes i’ve just thrown fabric right into the pot, nuts and all.

          when i’m ready to dye fabric, i place it in the liquid, heat the liquid up to just below a boil turn it off and let it sit for a day or so. lots of the color rinses out so even though something might look really dark, it will lighten up considerably. this year i’m also using gloves–simply because it took several weeks for my hands to clean up when i didn’t wear them. i’m totally a learn as you go kinda person–and it could be that i’m doing things bass-ackwards–but something is working.

          again, i suggest a google search–something i haven’t done myself, but you’re bound to learn more about the process. hope you’ll keep me posted.


  6. karmadondruplhamo....grace forrest October 2, 2013 at 12:30 pm #

    i finally was able to listen to the whole podcast through. just now. and i am thinking about
    how it had been my Plan at one point to enter into a monastic community. how i didn’t
    and how so appealing it is to me, always. but i don’t. and i have this thought. and then
    she asks him about what his pressing questions are in his practice and he said there
    are no pressing questions. there is just now. this moment. so..i think about this as i
    go outside to “do the day”…my now, with all it’s pressing questions.
    thank you for suggesting this listening…love….


    • Patricia October 2, 2013 at 5:15 pm #

      i think that may be the key–the just now of the moment–so why is it so easy to move in and out of it i wonder?


      • karmadondruplhamo....grace forrest October 2, 2013 at 5:51 pm #

        maybe because we have the capability of creating scenarios, so we do. and find ourselves caught up in what could be, or our misperceptions as he says? and it becomes so habituated. to
        move back from that and remain in the present moment becomes
        so lost to us.
        we really don’t try.
        i think he is right tho. it is not hard.


        • Patricia October 2, 2013 at 6:40 pm #

          for me it’s also a matter of noticing the tendency to “drift” when it first occurs… and i’m finally understanding why this is called a practice. because that’s what it takes. dedicated practice.


I appreciate your feedback:

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: