So I began to listen. I listened to my Uber driver who voted for Trump out of the belief that, even as an immigrant from Central America, he stood a better chance for a stable life with him than with Clinton. I listened to the guy who cuts my hair talk about his coal-mining family in West Virginia and his husband’s family in Michigan. I listen to the anger and fear expressed by protesters in Times Square.
I don’t seek out the experiences, but from moment to moment there is plenty to hear in this brave new world. I’ll take it, wholly and unconditionally. I’ll meet what it has to say on the field that Rumi describes out beyond our ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing, because essentially we’re all singing the same song. It’s the song of our fears, our fever dreams, our bank accounts, our laundry lists, our high school crushes, and our imaginary friends.
The “Why” is here.
The Home Version
Sara Auster offers a simple listening meditation to work with in any setting:
“Close your eyes for a moment and listen. See if you can notice the sounds in the room and outside of the room. Trying to fight the sounds is unlikely to work. The sounds are not going to go away because you don’t like them. If you respond aggressively to them, then you are just getting yourself into a fight that you cannot win.
“Call to mind the living, breathing, feeling human beings behind the noises and sounds you hear and wish them well. Accept these sounds as part of your meditation practice. Stay loosely focused on your breathing, and let the sound be a secondary focus of the practice. If you can stop seeing the sound as the enemy of the practice and instead see it as part of the practice, then the conflict will start to dissolve.
“Let the sounds you hear be your anchor to the present moment. Don’t judge what you hear or analyze the sounds, just listen, observe and experience them. If you become restless or impatient, notice these feelings and allow them, but do not react to them.
“Stick with this for at least 5 minutes and notice how your awareness has shifted.”
Olivia Giovetti works in digital and creative media for 21C Media Group, which manages public relations for National Sawdust among others. Her writing has appeared in the Washington Post, Time Out New York, NPR, and more. (She currently has “Does Your Mother Know” stuck in her head.)