listening inside

You have to find a mother inside yourself. We all do. Even if we already have a mother, we still have to find this part of ourselves inside Sue Monk Kidd, The Secret Life of Bees

We can have skills training in mindfulness so that we are using our attention to perceive something in the present moment. This perception is not so latent by fears or projections into the future, or old habits, and then I can actually stir loving-kindness or compassion in skills training too, which can be sort of provocative, I found.Sharon Salzberg

Our shared work in the prison is about writing and expressing but it is also about listening. Silence, space, nothingness, are often set in opposition to sound, form, something-ness. The latter is often considered the more real components of our experience. We emphasize the writing in writing not the page, margins, space between the letters that make it possible for the writing to be read. We undervalue the breaths between sentences that make it possible for words to be heard and understood.

By being silent, creating space, we allow room for others. We make it possible for others to become more of themselves. What’s more is that we may also offer that space to ourselves, going into spaces of silence to hear ourselves, to recognize ourselves and become more ourselves. This is the provocative, mindful, inner-mother space described in the quotes above. We practice this in our silent writing time, in the silence while others are reading, silence as we fill out soul cards at the end of each group.

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listening for love

Let yourself be silently drawn by the stronger pull of what you really love. – Rumi

When we are listened to, it creates us, makes us unfold and expand. Ideas actually begin to grow within us and come to life. – Brenda Ueland


We’ve been moving slowly through February, battling the winter doldrums and bitter cold. The intent for the night’s group was to move from love of self to love of other to love of community. To do this, we worked with Parker Palmer’s five habits of the heart. While women jumped to discuss many of the ideas, their writing continued to focus on the tense and ever-shifting relationship with themselves or in love with another. This felt important. These are the bonds that create community is small steps, many many small connections. Love demonstrated profoundly in one room, one body, one mind can set the model for a town, country, globe.

They talked about life-long loves, life-long struggles, their children–loves and lives they’ve brought into the world– and addiction, a strangling kind of love that impedes all others. We have certain kinds of love stories we are told: fairy tales, romantic comedies, sitcoms. These are tidy formulas. None of us had tidy love stories. The equations they wrote defied reason, unturned gravity, begged for absorption or renewal. They carried contradiction in each line. Here was the messy nuance of love, the model that cannot be followed except through trial, accident, epiphany.

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