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Thursday, August 20, 2009

Thoughts on "Ting Jin-Learn to listen"

In my previous blog post, I transferred an archived post from my old version of my blog on to here on Blogger --- "Ting Jin-Learn to Listen in martial arts".

Funny, as I re-read my old post, I remembered an important lesson I learned from a situation I was in recently.........

The other day, a good friend called me to catch up on things, as we hadn't seen each other in a while. During our conversation "Anne" told me about a stressful and emotional experience she encountered over the past weekend. It was indeed a stressful story she told me, as I felt myself crying on the inside as I heard her story and put myself in her shoes. I could hear the pain in her voice and it saddened me deeply as I'd been in the same situation many times before.

As Anne continued into a very emotionally trying portion of the story, suddenly, I felt sort of awkward.....I didn't know what to say, I didn't know what to do. I felt a sense of urgency in trying to cheer her try and divert Anne from recollecting such painful memories, but I felt sort of helpless and awkward, as if I couldn't help. I felt like she might as well be talking to a head of lettuce, because I just sat there. I remember thinking "I gotta do something other than just sit here and empathize...what do I say? What do I do? I don't want to sound stupid! What can I do to distract her from this?" I almost....almost....felt as if I was being "useless" as a friend to lean on. I felt there was nothing I could say to help as I heard her voice break over the phone, and I felt so badly that I didn't know what else to do to be a good friend to her at that time.

I managed to snap out of it, remembering "That's what friends are listen. Just as in martial arts, to feel the conversation, no thoughts of attack or defense, no thought of direction or placement....just listen and be with the moment". So I sat and listened.....I tried to really listen to the 'now', not just hear the words. I empathized with her situation, connecting with the same stress as I too had been in so many times before. I just listened....and felt my eyes tear up every so often. Every now and then I'd throw in a funny remark to lighten the load, but other than that I tried to allow myself to listen and not go into my "martial arts teacher mode". She didn't need to hear about ways she could have-should have-would have fixed the situation.....she didn't need to hear how awful some people are.....she didn't need my personal opinion on the matter.

In a lull in the conversation, however, I briefly thought about the evening prior, when I was in "teacher mode" as a student asked me for advice on a personal matter...I felt myself go on tangents about "how to deal with this", or "how to fix that"....blah blah blah. In situations like that of the student's, I'm sure the advice was well taken. However, in Anne's case, I felt she needed an ear, a shoulder, someone she trusted to unload on, someone that wouldn't judge or be biased. Yes, that's what friends are listen.

I'm hoping Anne is feeling a bit better and has moved forward from that awful experience. And I thank Anne for reminding me of one of life's important lessons on how to be a good friend. I'm honored that Anne felt comfortable enough to share her innermost thoughts and remind me that its perfectly okay to lean on others sometimes, as much as being the one leaned upon. This lesson was one that truly melds Martial theory with life, and I felt great that I was able to practice being an "Uke" (Japanese MA term-"one who receives"). I can only hope that Anne and my other good friends will be "Uke" should I ever need one.
Thanks, Anne!

1 comment:

Wolf said...


Go with the flow, live in balance with Tao.