Photo by Frantisek Duris on Unsplash

Several years ago I was working with Rev. Guy Williams. He was leading a Wednesday night service that included a talk by him, some meditation and an opportunity to ask questions.

Shortly before the service I’d had a conversation with my adult daughter. I don’t remember the issue, but I was disappointed about something, my feelings were hurt and I felt totally unsure about what to do next. As you might imagine, I asked Rev. Guy how to handle the situation. Of course, to do that I had to describe what had happened and I began to cry.

Guy listened deeply as he always seems to and when I pulled myself together a bit he said “you need to be undefended.”

I knew he’d said something that was incredibly important for me, and even as he elaborated a bit I could feel the word, undefended, slipping out of my mind. It was a concept so radical that only my soul knew it was right — the rest of me was busy trying to pretend I’d never heard of such a thing.

I told Guy I knew he was right and I also knew by morning I probably wouldn’t remember what he said. “Email me,” he replied with a smile and we went on with the rest of the service.

Sure enough by morning all I knew was that I had forgotten something important. “Undefended” was his simple reply to my email asking for help.

I’ve been working with becoming, with being undefended ever since. Not only to be undefended with my daughter, but with the rest of my family. And with undefended with clients and friends and even other drivers and when I remember, the world.

At first I thought to be undefended meant to have no expectations of the other person. To a large degree that’s true, but as I sit with the concept and practice it out in the world I’m finding it also means deep listening. Deep listening means to me that I’m actually hearing what the other is saying, all the way through, and not planning how I’m going to respond.

That’s a tough one for me; it seems like I’ve always got answers, advice and opinions.

The result, of course, is that life isn’t much different than it was before, except… it’s sort of like meditation. I don’t usually see the results in the moment, but over time I notice that not only am I in a better place it seems my daughter, my family, my friends, and even once and awhile the other drivers are in a better place.

What might being undefended mean to you?

Love and blessings,

Originally published at

Writer, life and writing coach, book ghostwriter, Grandmother, Buddhist. Liberal who listens to the other side, political

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