Since the Listening Post began, Letting Go of Outcome has been part of our practice. Letting Go of Outcome seems to be akin to listening itself. Letting go is in the manual; we practice it when we seek to debrief; it percolates at meetings, directly and indirectly, when compassion asks, “how is your listening going?”
What I’m interested in today is how noticing, itself, is integral to the phenomenon of letting go of outcome. We can’t really practice letting go if we don’t notice we are hanging on. We don’t ask the question, “how are you?” and patiently wait for the answer, if we don’t notice the other person or notice a curiosity and compassion arising in our own hearts.
Noticing is part of letting go. It may start with noticing we are uncomfortable during or after a listening session, or we may notice that we seem to be haunted by a guest’s heartache days after we have listened to them. There is a kind of resistance in that noticing, though. Have you ever felt that lingering heartache and say to yourself something like, yeah, yeah, I know I need to let go of this. Let go of outcome, I know. We can set our mind to the task: I will Let Go of Outcome. But it doesn’t seem to work that way. Or maybe it works, but it kind of highlights the struggle of letting go more than the moment when we loosen our grip, just let go of outcome, and breathe.
Who reading this letter remembers Paul Ilecki’s teaching? Just Notice. He wasn’t talking about noticing the surface. The surface is not a bad place to start, but if we stay there we never quite land in a rooted noticing.
There is a shift possible. A shift when what we notice goes a little deeper, goes past noticing our discomfort. Now I feel myself slipping into some kind of a circle, because what I want to say next is that letting go of outcome seems to increase the breadth of what we notice.
Noticing is part of letting go, and letting go is part of noticing. There is a reciprocity. And just to keep things interesting, I’m going to throw in one more element: non-judgment.
Here, I would like to confess. This exploration of noticing, letting go, and non-judgment stems from something shared with Marcia and I this week. A member of our beloved community shared that they noticed something about their listening practice: they noticed they weren’t listening without judgment.
The joy in their expression of actually seeing this was so beautiful it radiated. In seeing themselves clearly and – perhaps more significantly – seeing themselves without judging themselves, they became wide open to themselves. They became wide open to listening. They experienced ‘challenge-less’ listening.
At the LP we aim to offer non-judgmental listening to our guests. Sometimes we live up to that and sometimes we don’t. In this three-point reciprocity of Noticing, Letting go, and Non-judgment, we are called to not just apply it to our guests. If we want to listen and listen deeply, and to continue to deepen our listening hearts… we can turn listening back onto ourselves. When we notice our previously unnoticed habits, when we let go of whatever protection those habits may have afforded us, and when we let go even of judging ourselves… the sweetness, bittersweet or honey-sweet or both(!), is what we are left with.
In that three-point reciprocity, each creating the next and therefore themselves, Noticing, Letting Go of Outcome, and Non-judgment, we deepen in our listening to the point of Challenge-less listening. This is when Listening listens.
And none of this is done just by making our minds up. This is all grace. And we’ll take it. We listen by grace… the least judgmental thing going.
and there but for the grace…
~Avie & Marcia