Silhouette of two people in conversation

The freedoms and rights stipulated in the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution necessitate that we listen to points of view that differ from ours. In The Zen of Listening: Mindful Communication in the Age of Distraction, Rebecca Shafir offers practices for opening to others with whom we may differ:

  • Two or three times a week, purposely open your mind to one of your not-so-favorite things, like your least favorite sport or not-so-favorite people. Be fully present with that thing or person, watching, experiencing, and listening from the standpoint that you have something to learn.
  • For every activity or person you dislike, identify one thing you like or respect. Then when you are engaged in that activity or are interacting with that person, acknowledge to yourself your negative thoughts or feelings while focusing on that one thing you like or respect.
  • Find a friend who disagrees with you about a topic. Take turns developing her argument and defending her viewpoint. Then notice if your position has changed and whether you're more open to others' views.

In partnership with our friends at Spirituality & Practice, we are sharing practices to help us all “practice democracy” from the inside out. This practice is from their free, downloadable guide, “Practicing Democracy at Home.” Visit Spirituality & Practice's The Practicing Democracy Project for more practices and a wide array of resources.


Spirituality & Practice logo

Spirituality & Practice (S&P) is a multi-faith website devoted to resources for spiritual journeys. While respecting differences among traditions, S&P celebrates what they share in common.