Over the years of spiritual practice, I repeatedly fall in love with the word "with." To me, it is one of the most beautiful words in the English language, but I keep forgetting how lovely the experience of it is. Then, life circumstances will be such that I'm reminded, and I get to fall in love all over again. This time, the reminder centered on the guidance contained in the communication book, Don't Suffer: Communicate! and the emphasis this practice places on reflective listening.
In my experience, one of the potential pitfalls of being a so-called "spiritual type" is to have one's attention diverted to looking for the "extraordinary" and "supernatural" in life, thus leaving and missing out on the exquisite "ordinary" and "natural" world in which we live. We can abandon the process of "being with" and slip into a process of wanting or desiring something other than what is. In that place, the adage, "Everything is the Buddha" is at best ignored and in most cases actually is negated. This is where the simple and potent tool of reflective listening can transport us Home – that is, back to the process of being with and aware that everything is the Buddha.
In the Reflective Listening Buddies program, we say, "It is perfectly fine to interrupt your buddy if they go on and on for a long time and reflect back what they said." I have found that guidance applies to my daily life: Interrupt. Reflect back what's going on. In my case, it can look like, "So, you're wondering what's for lunch today." And a few moments later, "So, you want to put your shoes by the wood stove so they can dry out." Then, "And you want to get some more drinking water in your cup." Whatever is going on in the mind, simply interrupt (so it doesn't go on and on and we lose sight of what it's saying) and reflect.
And just like in Reflective Listening Buddies, it's perfectly fine to reflect back only the last few words. We are not training to be perfect reflective listeners, we are training to be Here and be with our buddy -- this "ordinary" human incarnation who experiences hunger, thirst, and cold feet. As paraphrased from Bhagwan Sree Rajneesh: The most ordinary thing in the world is to want to be extraordinary; the most extraordinary thing is to want to be ordinary. That is the extraordinary, super-natural opportunity that reflection affords us, thus landing us squarely in the realization that everything is the Buddha.