11/12 Practice Circle: Insight Dialogue

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This topic contains 2 replies, has 3 voices, and was last updated by Jennifer Hawkins Jennifer Hawkins 1 year ago.

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  • #41239

    Mark Knickelbine

    Hey, everybody! When we get together on Sunday, November 12, at 8 pm Central time, we’ll share an exercise in Insight Dialogue. We’ve used mindful dialogue frequently in Practice Circle discussions, but Sunday we’ll dig a bit more deeply into the specifics of the mediation practice developed and taught by Gregory Kramer. Below, you’ll find some instructions excerpted from Gregory’s website at metta.org, a site I encourage you to explore. There is much more detail about Insight Dialogue, including recorded talks by Gregory.

    Insight Dialogue involves six simple instructions that are nevertheless challenging to practice: Pause, Relax, Open, Trust Emergence, Listen Deeply, and Speak the Truth.

    If you haven’t joined us before, we welcome you to share your dharma practice with us! You can join our video conference group simply by following this link: https://zoom.us/j/968569855.* * * *


    Waking up from habit mind, the mind that grasps at whatever it touches, is the first step on any path. As such, the first instruction in Insight Dialogue is Pause. To pause is to stop some activity temporarily, to let it go. The pause in Insight Dialogue is meant to help us dwell a moment with our immediate experience as it is while listening, before speaking, while we speak, and after speaking. The pause is mindfulness, which opens the door to the present moment, to a movement from grasping to non-grasping, from clinging to non-clinging. It is an interruption of a lifetime of habitual forward pressure.


    The mindful Pause often reveals habit-driven thoughts or emotional reactions. The mind-body is agitated. To meet this experience skillfully, we need further support. The second instruction in Insight Dialogue, Relax, offers this support and reflects the important factor of tranquility. Relax embodies the practice of repeatedly choosing ease whenever we recognize tension.

    The instruction to Relax addresses both the body and mind since they move as one. We can begin by bringing our awareness to those parts of the body where we feel tense. When we notice the signs of tension in the body— such as tightness in the belly or the sinking feeling of sadness— we can choose ease by allowing that tension to relax; our awareness can remain soft and present as the feeling unfolds. We do not need to identify with the sensations.


    Pause and Relax establish the traditional meditative framework of mindfulness and tranquility. In Pause, we meet the moment anew. We are aware of body, emotions, and thoughts without clinging. In Relax, we approach our immediate experience with acceptance, receptivity, and kindness.
    The third interpersonal meditation instruction, Open, invites us to extend this accepting mindfulness to the external, to everything around us. Our awareness is wider and more spacious. However, unlike most traditional meditation practices that also encourage a wide-open awareness, Insight Dialogue includes other meditators and co-meditation. This extension to the external and to the other allows mutuality and is the basis for interpersonal meditation.

    Trust Emergence

    We meet the moment awake, loving, and spacious. But what do we do when we find that the moment changes uncontrollably or when our habit-driven world seems unchanging? How do we generate faith to be present with our impermanence and our habitual reactions?

    The fourth meditation instruction, Trust Emergence, addresses these questions by inviting us to be in the changing present moment and to make impermanence itself the object of practice. Trust Emergence is rooted in wisdom, seeing things as they are: complex, impermanent. Emergence is the process by which the complex things we experience arise spontaneously from underlying contributing factors. Trust refers to the faith required to be present with this instability, to accept that we don’t know, to let go into the changing now.

    Listen Deeply

    Communication is astonishing. The speaker’s emotions or thoughts become sound-language that touches our hearts-mind. We then interpret that sound-language with our thoughts, emotions and images in order to understand. Rarely, however, do we observe the conditioned and subjective nature of everyday communication. In meditation, mindfulness reveals this nature and our reactivity. In Listening Deeply, we become still to allow this reactivity and attention to our needs to die down.

    Listen Deeply rests on personal silent practice. To Listen Deeply is to drop mental noise (Pause) and enter the receptivity of Relax. We open the senses, heart and mind to receive the moment, words, emotions, and energies of our co-meditators fully. Our listening is appreciative, kindly, and patient; it is unhurried by a personal agenda. With the mind expanded by Trust Emergence, we are tranquil and do not interrupt our listening with internal dialogue about how we might respond.

    Speak the Truth

    Whenever we speak, we touch each other’s minds and hearts. However, given our habitual patterns, our reactivity, and the power of language to take us out of present-centered awareness, Speak the Truth must be grounded in morality, mindfulness, and the mutual elements of our practice. Thus, in Insight Dialogue, we commit to right (ethical) speech, truth, and kindness. We apply the Golden Rule to our speech.

    Speak the Truth asks us to re-examine the process and function of verbal communication. To Speak the Truth, we must know the truth. Because we are referring to the subjective truth of our experience, we must listen internally to discern this truth. Thus, speaking enters our practice through mindfulness. Mindfulness can occur because of the stabilizing support of the other Insight Dialogue guidelines. Clarity arises when the mind is energetic, mindful, calm, spacious (Pause-Relax-Open) and unattached (Trust Emergence).

  • #41249
    Craig Leger
    Craig Leger

    One of the important insights that came up in this Insight Dialogue was the idea that gratitude should not be restricted only to those things that we label as good, but extend to all aspects of our lives. We can open our heart, and be thankful for happy moments and sad moments, success and failure, ease and trouble, sunshine and storms.

    This intention reminds me of two poems.

    The Guest House, by Mewlana Jalaluddin Rumi

    Affirming Faith in Mind (Xinxin Ming) attributed to Chinese Chán Patriarch Jianzhi Sengcan

  • #41267
    Jennifer Hawkins
    Jennifer Hawkins

    ^ Thanks for posting these, Craig.

    I just wanted to add these TinyBuddha articles which also talk about the benefit of the negatives:


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