Thursday, June 4, 2009


Wednesday off.

The day 153 meditation feels to me like a bit of a non-sequitur.  Gates talks about how, at 30, he suddenly started making friends because he had stopped trying to be interesting, and instead became an addiction counselor who spent almost all of his time listening to other people's problems.  In some ways, I'm surprised it took him until he was thirty.

Most people think that they are the most interesting things in the world.  For the most part, they want to talk.  And what they want to talk about is themselves.  As the joke goes:  "Enough about me.  Let's talk about you for awhile.  What do you think about me?"  This means that it's very, very easy to get people to like you, if you want.  All you have to do is show an interest in listening to them talk about themselves.  If you can show a genuine interest and manage to stay engaged, you are bound to be extremely popular.   In a world where everyone wants to talk about themselves, the willing listener is a rare commodity.  (It's not too hard to see people in all sorts of public places who don't seem to stop talking even though its abundantly clear that the people with them are paying only the slightest attention, or waiting for a turn to interject something that shifts the focus to them.)

Take this a bit further.  Listen to someone, and then paraphrase what they said back to them, in the form of a question.  Repeat this several times in the conversation, showing that you are both listening and understanding what they are saying.  Sometimes, this leads to remarkable revelations.  This little trick is an oversimplified version of Carl Roger's Client Centered Therapy.  It's really simple, and amazingly, it works.  And it makes people like you even more.  And it's not as easy or manipulative as it may sound.  Done properly, its about as non-manipulative as you can get, because you aren't forcing any ideas at all into the conversation.  Instead, you are simply trying to understand.  

What does this have to do with asana practice?  I don't know.  Gates offers hope in the idea that he could undergo such a radical change in his relationships with others when he had hit the advanced age of thirty.  It's a good point, though I don't think of thirty as being anywhere near too old to learn or change anymore (I probably did when I was twenty).   I hope the same point applies at 50 or 60 or even beyond that.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thank you for posting this. For, how much is there to learn by talking about ourselves...much better to fill ourselves with the wisdom of others then at the right moment share all we know. For so many years Bikram and experienced teachers of his have taught. Next class will be different for me.