Posts Tagged ‘Open Hearted Listening’

Learning to See

23/01/2012

By: R. Richards

The wonder of a palm frond in the morning sun, nz.

I’ve often been thinking how having a child is like teaching an 18-yr Outward Bound course, for the parents. The bus arrives when the baby is born and it may leave when the teen turns 18, but maybe not.  Of course, no one wants to hear the worn our phrase, “you learn through your children” but I’m reminded of the Kogi tribe (see the BBC film Elder Brother’s Warning) in the Colombian Sierra Nevada mountains who hide their shamans-in-training in a darkened hut, never seeing the light of day until their 18th birthday. Then, after years of preparation, after telling them what the world looks like, they see their world for themselves, for the first time with their own eyes. As the wonder of a baby, with new eyes, but with training, so they can see their world more clearly to do their shamanic work.

Seeing our baby boy look with glee at the morning sunrise, and the light shining through some palm leaves this morning is an eye opener. I felt “more aware” after I survived being tossed around in a van roll-over in 1988. “Everything looked new and pristine”, as Eckhart Tolle put it after his awakening experience.  I felt like lucky to still be on the planet. That default feeling subsided after a few weeks, and now I have to work at being present by doing what I call “remembering my spiritual practice”. For me it’s meditating and listening to Eckhart Tolle’s Power of Now.  Reminders can take almost any form as long as it helps

An Eye Catcher - Are you watching though?

bring one back to their center.  In recent talks with newly elected Mountain Spirit Institute board member and mountain guide/instructor Ken Wyle, he’s been relating how writing his book on being buried in an avalanche which killed seven people, is a catharsis. Tolle says that people who are more conscious in their lives have usually had some tragic loss in their life that shook them out of the dream state we call normal life.

Our baby boy, laughing as he looks out the window of our van whizzing down main street in Kingston New Zealand,  is a reminder to me – “What am I missing? I want to see like he sees!”  The good news, it’s wholly possible. I’ve been seeing, more than dreaming during the last ten years.  And it’s obivous when I’m not present. I might go a whole morning or day and realize I’ve not been present until something catches my eye, like a detail of a stem in a vase, or the bustle in supermarket, or of course, a sunset.

Learning to see and live in the moment sure beats the alternative, and I’m not going back. When you beat your head against a wall long enough, you finally decide you’ve had enough of that, and make the choice to stay in peace, no matter what happens. A side benefit of being at peace is your mind isn’t filled with crap, so you are free to see such things as the morning light shining through some palm fronds.

Images: R. Richards, taken this morning

The Mind: “Just Stop It!”

10/04/2010

Be Here Now
Being in the present moment is all there  is. This light-hearted skit by Bob Newhart on MadTV illustrates this message with brevity and humor.
Amanda and I attend a wonderful “Open Hearted Listening” group along with other couples, once per month,  facilitated by the wise Don Rosenthal, about whom I’ve written in a prior post.  Last night, some of were talking about first, observing our behaviors that are like useless baggage we’re carrying around, and simply drop the behavior, like one would a hot coal.  Enjoy..

Editor’s Note: Thought I’d include something:  That those with cases of clinical depression and similar diagnosed issues, being told to “stop it” could probably cause quite serious repercussions.  I was talking with a friend today who’s a psychologist (it wasn’t an appointment). I mentioned this skit and the premise. She replied, “That’s funny, sometimes I feel like saying “Stop it” to my clients,” adding, “Who would they be without their stories.”, Indeed, who would each one of us be, without our stories.

Tolle states that the there really isn’t that much difference between a stranger wandering down the sidewalk muttering to himself, and the rest of us, only the rest of us don’t do it out loud. We’ve don’t know to find the “off button”. The instrument has taken us over. Similar to an air conditioner making a background hum, the mind makes background noise with endless commentary and thought. Only  when we “stop it” do we notice the peace. That’s something to think about.

An “Awakening Together” Retreat

23/02/2010

By D.R. Richards,
Learning to live with an Open Heart, Part I

Martha and Don Rosenthal

I first met Don and Martha Rosenthal about 10 years ago when I enrolled in a monthly meeting of  “Awakening Together” sessions here in New Hampshire, where couples meet to witness, listen, talk and learn vital life skills in relating to one’s partner. The group was started 18 years ago and a few of the original couples are still continuing today. Other couples have naturally come and gone. Indeed, the gathering is more about becoming a more fully realized human being, about living in the present, than how to only relate better to one’s partner. It’s about learning to love unconditionally with all who come across one’s path.  At least this has been my experience of the meetings and the work.

Amanda and I just completed the Rosenthal’s  Awakening Together couples retreat” at their country farmhouse in central Vermont, as a proactive approach to building a good foundation for our marriage. We’re so glad we committed to going to the Rosenthal’s for the weekend. We are also enrolled in the once monthly group mentioned above, but the weekend was a “full on” laboratory for personal disarmament.

The Rosenthal's "Learning to Love"

Six couples of various ages and socio-economic backgrounds attended the weekend retreat.  Amanda and I were blown away not only with the wonderful format and top quality information covered, but with how both Don and Martha walk their talk, not to mention their well versed articulation and perceptions of participant’s situations. In fact, if you haven’t heard of Don Rosenthal, I expect you will as his reputation will most likely grow . His book and his way of being in the world is direct and heart felt. In short, he walks his talk.

We suggest this as one of the best, if not the best, couples workshops a couple can attend. It is mostly advertised by word of mouth, so I thought I’d post this today. I will write more about our weekend in Part II.

From their website:
Don and Martha began their 31-year journey together in Alaska, where they lived in a remote cabin and explored the quiet life together. Emerging after some years, they moved to the coast of California where they began what has now been more than two decades of counseling couples and individuals. Don received training in psychotherapy and began a career as a counselor. Martha studied mind/body/spirit connection with various teachers and developed a private healing practice. They have a son, now grown, whom they home-schooled.

Don's Second Book

In 1989 Don and Martha moved to rural northern Vermont, and shortly thereafter began offering weekend workshops for couples. Through word-of-mouth these soon expanded to a wide circle, becoming the core of their work. In addition, Martha leads meditation retreats for women and works with couples and individuals privately; Don offers consulting to individuals and couples, fundamentally as a form of spiritual guidance. Don and Martha view their own relationship, with all its trials and wonders, as the testing ground and measure of their teaching. They are co-authors of Learning to Love: From Conflict to Lasting Harmony.

For more information on their work, or the weekend workshops see their website.
Editor’s Note: Another book “The Unquiet Journey” is a book of reflections, written by Rosenthal that provides the philosophical and spiritual context for his later publications. Many readers have found it valuable.
To Be Continued in Part II