November 1, 2023
Reporting live from R/L-land: No one knows what the Mentor is going to say and the Mentor doesn't check his phone while listening.
I have a very dear friend who is always on the phone. I tell him about my life, my joys, my struggles and he listens and replies on cue. But at the same time, he’s checking his Instagram and his dating apps. Often, he’s texting while we talk. You might wonder, “What kind of friend is that?” You might even know what I should do, “Stop talking until he pays attention!” Or even: “Stop considering him a dear friend!”
I hear you, and I am quite upset about it too. However, I am also excited because it seems to be the perfect theme for a two-handed Recording and Listening session, and I had planned for this article to describe what I notice during a real R/L session. “Reporting from R/L-land,” is what I was calling it. So let me turn on the recorder and tell all about it!
So ego convinced me to check Instagram before R/Ling. I am back reporting now after ten minutes of black-out in my consciousness. So let me turn the recorder on.
As I pay attention to the process of consulting the Mentor, the first thing I notice is that I think I already know what he’s going to say. Mm, fascinating. Do you remember that a few lines above I wrote what I imagined you were thinking? Well, it turns out that’s actually what I think the Mentor is thinking. Or, better said, it’s what ego says the Mentor is going to say. Let me pass it the mic: “Why R/L about it! You know he’s a _____ (fill in with adjective for suboptimal) friend, and that’s what the Mentor is going to say! What do you expect? You are wasting your time. Go ahead and finish the article instead.” Interesting, right? Now, on to the exercise.
20 minutes later:
The first thing I want to report is that the Mentor really listens… and conditioning doesn’t like it (more about this later). There were no doubts: The Mentor was paying 100% attention to my description of the situation. Sometimes he would re-listen to a sentence before responding. Wow, it feels good to be listened to! I am experiencing an afterglow from it now… a diffused sense of peace that stems from feeling heard (quite the opposite of the vague anxiety that lingers on after I try to be heard by my dear phone-obsessed friend).
And, as I was mentioning, conditioning was not making it easy for the Mentor. Actually, it was using all its tricks, from: “Why don’t we make tea while you listen?” to “Was that your phone? What if it was important?” and “Don’t you have a feeling that there’s something very important that you are forgetting about?” down to “STOP LISTENING RIGHT NOW! YOUR FRIEND HATES YOU ANYWAY!”
But the Mentor kept listening deeply and attentively, showing so much care and interest, asking clarifying questions. There was no judgment (neither toward me nor my friend) and nothing went unnoticed: “I feel your voice changed when you said you want his attention. Tell me more about it. How do you feel about it?”
The other thing I need to report is that all conditioning’s ideas about what the Mentor was going to say were totally wrong. No one could predict what he was going to say, not even the Mentor himself, because his words surfaced in the moment from the depth of listening closely and really, really paying attention.
Which leads to the last thing to report: The Mentor exists in the moment and, therefore, is always HERE when I am. Also, I want to be a better listener. Listening is so much fun! (Maybe I can model it for the people I love, too?)