When you're caught up in your thoughts, you become completely unavailable for the people you're with. The mental narrative can be so strong, so loud, that there's no chance of hearing anything apart from your thoughts.
How to get the most out of these Wisdom Quotes:
Put aside everything you think you already know.
Open your mind and heart to receive something new.
Take your time going through each point.
Return to any points that particularly touch you.
In the coming days, listen carefully to the wisdom within you.
1. Listening Through Anxiety and Frustration
FATHER: I had a moment this weekend where I’m packing up and I’m going somewhere and I asked my son six times to do something. He’s on his phone and I asked him to put his phone down, and at a certain point, I get frustrated.
BK (Byron Katie): What was your thought when you reprimanded him?
F: “He’s not listening to me.”
BK: So now, let’s walk through that. Be there now, imagine you in that situation that you just described to us. Look at him, he’s not listening to you.
F: I’ve told him this so many times. He’s not listening to me. I regret getting him that phone, I give him too much leeway on it, it’s getting out of control…
BK: Okay, now let’s look at how do you treat him when what you said is running through you and you’re believing the thought, “He’s not listening to me.” How do you treat him? Get really still…
F: I treat him much more aggressively.
BK: What do you say? What do you do?
F: I say, “Get off your phone! I’ve asked you to get off your phone nicely.” I explain to him I’m packing up, we have to get to the airport, there are a thousand things going through my mind... I’m sorry I can’t look at the thing you’re showing me right now.
BK: So now, slow way down and see you there and look at him look at you. The question is, how do you react? What happens when I believe the thought, “He’s not listening to me”?
This is an exercise in stillness and going back and looking at one’s self. Let’s slow it way down and let’s turn it around and let’s check it out. Be there now, look at him in that situation where you’re irritated.
"He’s not listening to me," turned around, "He is listening to me." Now, that doesn’t mean he is. Check it out. It is your truth that sets you free.
F: He’s listening very clearly to things that I’m not saying, meaning that he’s listening to my energy, he’s listening to my anxiety, he’s listening to the fact that my brain is scattered across 15 things and not acknowledging our reality of the situation, which is that there’s an emotional transitioning happening.
BK: You can always go back (it’s nothing you have to do): “Remember, sweetheart, when we were packing to go and I was so irritated with you? I apologize for that. I wasn’t listening to you and I want you to know that I want to hear everything you say and if I missed anything, would you tell me now?”
F: There’s so much communication that we’re not paying attention to.
BK: Exactly so.
~Byron Katie, from the video: Find Out What Is True
In this first example of Byron Katie doing 'The Work' with someone, notice the gentle way of self-inquiry. Katie brings the person back to a particular, stressful scenario, so it can be seen with fresh eyes and understanding.
This father realized that, when he believed a particular thought, he communicated aggressively with his son. And that his son picked up on this aggressive energy.
When you're caught up in your thoughts, you become completely unavailable to the people you're with. The mental narrative can be so strong, so loud, that it completely takes over and there's no chance of hearing anything apart from your thoughts.
It's important to realize that communication comes in many forms, not just words. By recognizing all the noise and judgment that's going on in your head, you can step back into a place of stillness from which you can begin to truly listen to the person you're with.
2. Listening Through Anger and Hurt
Mother: My adult daughter, Courtney, doesn’t live with me anymore and she called me a few days before Christmas and told me she was moving and I was quite shocked.
BK: Describe to us how you reacted, what you said on the phone to her, your attitude, how you react when you believe the thought 'she doesn't tell me about her life.'
M: I was shocked, I was hurt, I was just devastated at the news. All of a sudden, out of the blue.
BK: Did you come at her with an attitude?
M: I did.
BK: So close your eyes. This work is meditation. We’re meditating on a moment in time. You’re sitting on the bed, you see you there, you see you talking to her, You can hear her. Now describe your attitude. Describe how you reacted when you had the thought: ‘She doesn’t tell me about her life.’
M (crying): I was angry, I was really angry. I said, “What do you mean?” I was angry and hurt. “Who do you think you are to just call me up on the phone and tell me you’re moving?”
BK: So, basically, you attacked her.
M (regretfully): I attacked her, yeah.
BK: Okay, so just experience that. See that in your mind's eye, with your eyes closed. She said she’s moving, notice the thoughts, images of past and future that went on in your head when you had the thought, ‘she doesn’t tell me about her life.’ What images of the future did you see?
M: That I just won’t ever see her again.
BK: Yes, and you also saw you alone without her. And notice the images of the past as you were sitting on the bed. What did you see?
M: I saw her getting on a plane with her father when she was two and saw when she moved out and saw when I haven’t seen her all these years.
BK: Yes. So now, with your eyes closed, see you on the bed without the thought: ‘she doesn’t tell me about her life.’ Just witness you on the bed without the images of past and future and just listen to her.
She’s saying, “I’m moving.” Without the images of past, future. Just listen. Who and what are you without the thought, ‘she doesn’t tell me about her life’? Who are you without these images of past, future, listening to your daughter telling you she’s moving?
M: I’m excited. I’m excited for her.
BK: Just stay there and experience now what you couldn’t experience then. You were dreaming over reality. Understand that’s what’s meant by caught in the dream. There’s a daughter telling her mother she’s moving and then there is mother, the dreamer. And without the dream, the question is who or what are you?
M: Yeah, I’m excited and curious and just in awe of how brave she is at what she’s doing.
BK: The Beatles had it, they said, “Let it be.” Just let it be. Notice. For example, on this phone call, without the dreamer, just let it be and there she is. There’s your baby.
M (nodding): ...Telling me about her life.
BK: Even with all the interruptions coming from you, there she was.
M: I didn’t listen to her at all. I didn’t listen to her, what she wanted to tell me and share with me.
BK: But the beautiful thing is you can call her. This is a life pattern of mine - it’s to admit it and to make it right in anyway I can. And in this situation, it would be to listen, to admit it, apologize, and then to just listen and say:
“I wasn’t even able to hear you. I was crazy. Would you tell me again about your move? I really am going to try to listen through this head of mine that sometimes has a problem.”
Hard to hear. People scream at us - hard to hear - because we’re believing over it, we’re believing onto it, we’re believing left and right of it.
~Byron Katie from the video: How to Listen Without Fear - The Work of Byron Katie
Here we see a beautiful example of Katie (as she's affectionately called) doing the Work with a mother who was upset because of her thoughts about her daughter.
As she guides her through a meditative process of questioning what happened and unraveling her beliefs, we see the clouds of confusion part and the light of truth shining in her situation.
Notice your tendency to believe onto things and to dream up realities that don't actually exist, other than in your mind.
Catch yourself "dreaming over reality" and see how everything calms down - like the glitter in the snow globe when you stop shaking it. Remember Adyashanti's words: Life is just what's happening - minus your thoughts about it.
3. Listening Through Fear
Mother: I want my son to be a together student who doesn’t veg out or is confused about his sexuality or eats junk food and sits hypnotized in front of the TV getting fat.
BK: How do you treat him? How do you react when you believe the thought, “I want him to get up and do something constructive”?
M: I get confused and scared and angry.
BK: And how do you treat him?
M: I disconnect, I separate and I don’t pay attention to him. I don’t see him.
BK: Yes, so, let’s see him. Close your eyes.
M (crying): I don’t see him at all, I just see my fear and my projection.
BK: Close your eyes. He’s watching television, he’s vegging out and you’re walking by the room. Now, who would you be without the thought, “I want him to get up and do something more constructive?” Look at him.
M: I’d be loving, fun, funny, productive, flowing, a happy mom. And I’d be present. And when he talked to me, I would listen to what he'd be saying instead of my own monologue.
BK: All you maybe need to take a look at is listening to him without your story interfering with what he’s saying. Just listen. It’s okay to just listen and be open. Close your eyes and look at your son. Who would you be without this story about him?
M: I would see his beauty and I would feel grateful and blessed.
BK: So, with the thought, with your story, there’s this dysfunctional, ne’er do well son and without your story, there’s the real son - not the son you’re imagining but your child, your son.
M (laughing): -Who is actually adorable.
BK: You know, the only thing between you and unconditional love is what you’re believing about your son. And, as you continue to question what you believe, you can’t hold those thoughts. And then, as you know, when you’re doing the work, everything starts to shift.
~Byron Katie, from the video: My son needs to get up from the couch and be productive
If you can see that the story you believe about someone prevents you from truly listening to them, your relationship can immediately shift.
What story have you been stuck in? What old, repetitive and stressful thoughts have you been believing about this person? Do you want to continue doing that?
If you're ready to listen then you must be open enough to be willing to question your thoughts and drop your story. You have the power, right now, to truly listen and connect with the people in your life.
"The only thing between you and unconditional love is what you’re believing." Take a moment to consider these words. Let them spark the wisdom within you and transform your relationships.
4. Be a True Listener
"They’d say something and I didn’t come back with an attitude or anger or judgment. So they were allowed to just empty themselves without punishment. And another way of saying that is I listened.
I’m a listener, I’m not a teacher.
I’m that way with my grandchildren as well. They’re teaching me. I’m very clear about that.
They teach me how to have fun. They teach me how to be innocent. They teach me unconditional love. They teach me how to love a butterfly.
I’m seeing the world through new eyes always and it’s a beautiful thing."
~Byron Katie, from the video: Byron Katie - Find Out What Is True
Here we see Katie's beautiful relationship with her children and grandchildren after she had her transformational awakening.
Whereas she used to be an angry and volatile mother, she became someone who was able to allow her children to empty themselves without "attitude or anger or judgment." And because she didn't have all those things going on in her head, she was able to truly listen.
Being a listener means being so open and empty that everyone becomes your teacher.
Open to the ones you find yourself with and let them teach you - what to do and what not to do, how to be and how not to be. Become a listener and see the world through new eyes, rather than through the chitter-chatter of a mind that doesn't know itself.
5. Consider These Questions
"Consider these questions:
Can I listen without thinking I know what he really means?
Can I listen without thinking that I know what she is going to say?
Can I listen without thinking that I may, even remotely, have a better way?
Who would I be if I just listened without a story and no longer engaged in the attempt to fix him or win his love, approval and appreciation?"
6. Be Vigilant to Break the Spell
"I see every mind as the enlightened mind and I see the mind very confused as it identifies, or tries to stay identified, as something that it is not.
It has to be completely vigilant.
The only thing I know to break the spell is just to get still and identify what mind is believing in the moment and then put it through inquiry and then see what is left."
"Try trusting that what they say is exactly what they mean: not more, not less.
Hear people out.
Catch yourself when you want to finish a sentence for someone, either aloud or in your mind.
To be a true listener, begin by finding the stillness within you and listening to what you've been telling yourself.
Trust the wisdom within you to break the spell of believing mind-made stories and watch your reality change.
In this way, you will naturally be able to hold a loving space for others as they interact with you, being the awareness and presence that they need to safely open their hearts and be heard.