Are we really hearing when people talk to us? Or do we just hear what we want to hear?
My younger sister often calls me during her long drives to and from work. The last time we spoke, I must have been going on and on about something when the call dropped and I did not notice. So I was having a conversation with her that she did not hear. It made me realize that when people talk, the conversation is often not about the other person until we’re seeking their approval.
I only noticed that my sister was no longer on the line with me because I was seeking affirmation – in this case social cues like really? or Aha! – otherwise it would feel to me as if I were speaking to myself. But in this case maybe it wasn’t so bad that she missed what I was saying – she does have a tendency to hold my feet to the fire and undoubtedly would have asked her trademark “Are you practicing what you preach?”
I’ve written before about one of my teachers named Lester Levenson. Lester asserted that all of our thoughts culminate into 3 wants:
In other words, for everything a person wants to do, or avoid, one of these 3 wants is driving them. This inevitably leads to more self-talking and hopefully the age-old meditation: Who am I?
Having experimented with many meditation schools, I can say that very few people really meditate. Some people who like to use a mantra think they’re meditating, and it works for them, because in the process they quiet their minds and they find peace. The truth is that if you want to reach divinity, concentrating on chants and mantras is not the way because you’re using the mind to conquer the mind.
Meditation the spiritual way is instead about disinhibition, letting go of mind and living in the present moment, and nothing else…certainly not prepping for an argument with my husband! That is probably why I keep coming back to meditation, and it continues to improve my life in new ways.
So you see, talking to yourself like a friend is fine – but don’t forget that the best friends are the ones you can sit with in silence.
Have you ever closed your eyes and dared not to dream?