Dadirri, deep listening, a poem

The second week in July is NAIDOC¹ week in Australia, celebrating the culture, history and achievement of indigenous people.

As a newcomer to Australia, I’m fascinated by this ancient yet still-surviving culture, and its place in modern day Australia. While I don’t understand the intricacies and etiquette around Aboriginal culture, I do feel a deep respect for their traditional ways and understanding of the land. Somehow I want to learn more, and to see the voice of indigenous people well-represented and respected.

Recently I’ve been learning about the indigenous mindfulness practice of dadirri, and this week it really helped me.

“Dadirri” means “deep listening” in one of the Aboriginal languages from the Northern Territories. Practising dadirri you go into nature and listen deeply, to the land and to oneself, patiently and with quiet, still awareness.

Elder Miriam Rose says, of dadirri: “We call on the deep, and the deep calls on us, so we connect and feel that we belong still. And nature plays a part in your becoming a whole person.”

Miriam Rose tells us more about dadirri:

Dadirri, a poem

Waking today with sadness,
I sat on the end of the bed,
So heavy,
And listened to the sadness.

Like a sack of stones around my heart,
So heavy,
“Dadirri,” they said, “Dadirri,”
“Deep listening.”
So I listened deeply.

I listened, really listened,
A patient taking-in,
The gentle knowing and unspoken 
Understanding of unhurried ears. No need to fix or change, Just “Dadirri,” Listening. Sadness mostly silent, I felt to gently ask “Sadness, dear, what do you want?” and “To be felt,” said Sadness. So this listener held the space, Smiling kindly, While the body felt sad, so heavy. In Dadirri, In listening and in letting be, Two things emerged: The feeling sadness, so heavy, And around it, listening space, Clear and kind and free. Not so heavy. “Dadirri,” they said, “Dadirri.” Deep listening, And so I felt called To listen to the listener. Patiently... Quietly... Listening to the listener. And there my mind grew still And my heart grew soft. Listening to the listening space, “Dadirri.”

¹ National Aborigine and Islanders’ Day Observance Committee

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