‘Listening like a cow’

An interesting post yesterday on empathy and meditation by guest blogger Martin Golder on the Settle it Now blog.  In transformative mediation, we’re trained to develop the skill of ‘listening like a cow’.  Read this excerpted passage from Mary Rose O’Reilly, Radical Presence (1998):

Pay attention…Just be there.  Don’t be thinking about a solution, or how you should fix it.  Just listen hard and try to be present.  It’s very bad business to invite heartfelt speech and then not listen…What I’m trying to construct here is a theory of attention that depends little on therapeutic skills and formal training: listening like a cow.  Those of you who grew up in the country know that cows are good listeners…We don’t need fixing, most of us, as much as we need a warm space and a good cow.  Cows cock their big brown eyes at you and twitch their ears when you talk.  This is a great antidote to the critical listening that goes on in academia, where we listen for the mistake, the flaw in the argument.  Cows, by contrast, manage at least the appearance of deep, openhearted attention.


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