Free Guided Practice – Deep Listening Leads to Conscious, Compassionate Connection
Just as resilience is needed now more than ever in these troubled and troubling times, deep listening – honoring, accepting, understanding, empathy, compassion, sometimes forgiveness – is needed now more than ever to create the safety of conscious, compassionate connections that support resilience for ourselves and our communities.
This 4-minute guided practice from Resilience 2.0 leads you in a practice that engenders deep listening and deeper understanding of times we and others have been resilient in dangerous or difficult moments.
Being listened to, deeply, completely, is profoundly healing. It can open us to a new experience of our own essence, our own goodness, which we have forgotten or maybe never knew. Being listened to is not a luxury or a matter of luck. It is so fundamental to our well-being, it’s truly our birthright.
The greatest compliment that was ever paid me was when one asked me what I thought, and attended to my answer.
– Henry David Thoreau
We do not believe in ourselves until someone reveals that something deep inside us is valuable, worth listening to, worthy of our trust, sacred to our touch.
– e.e. cummings
Another more elaborate exercise is excerpted here from Linda’s e-newsletter: Wise Listening Leads to Conscious, Compassionate Connection.
1. Become present. Set aside rehearsing what you’re going to say in response to your speaker; simply receive what they are saying and let it register in your own mind before formulating your conscious response. (And if it’s not a good time for you to be present, too much on your own mind or you’re running late out the door, say so kindly and schedule another time to listen.)
2. Check to make sure you heard the speaker accurately before responding. “I heard you say” [whatever you actually heard; paraphrasing can begin to distort what was actually said]. “Is there more?” is a skillful way to slow things down and make room for the speaker to feel fully heard.
3. Be comfortable allowing difference and disagreement. Trust that there are reasons why what the speaker is saying makes sense to them, or makes sense given their history and experiences. Ask for clarification until you understand the speaker’s ideas from their point of view, even if you completely disagree.
4. Monitor your own reactions to whatever the speaker is saying, but bracket and contain them until it’s your turn to speak. It’s not to lose yourself or forget yourself; it’s to manage your self until there is room for what you need to say to be received.
5. This means knowing your own emotional triggers and emotional reactivity; taking responsibility to manage them consciously. Your emotions are important signals; we learn how to use them under Step 3, empathic listening. The more comfortable and familiar you are with your own emotional landscape, the more comfortable you will be with your speaker’s emotions, even when running hot and high. Then you can listen-understand-empathize without over-reacting yourself.
6. As you proceed, monitor how much you are listening compared to how much you are speaking. If it’s important for this particular conversation to be mutual, reciprocal, then make room for the other person to speak or ask for more time yourself to keep things balanced. And when you need to stop listening or need to take a turn, respectfully stop or ask to take a turn.
7. Be curious about what’s not being said; what’s being left out. Are there any taboo topics lingering in the shadows that need to be addressed? You can skillfully inquire when it’s your turn again to speak.
8. Keep good boundaries. You’re open and receptive, but not a victim or a doormat. You deserve to be respected as a listener, and can say no to someone’s venting if it’s not appropriate or good timing for you to be asked to listen.
9. Hold yourself in your own truth if necessary, separate from anything someone is saying about you, remembering that whatever they are saying is a reflection of them. Be willing to listen and take responsibility where merited, but don’t take things personally otherwise.
10. Notice any criticism, judgment, ridicule or contempt coming up in you in response to what you’re hearing. Set it aside; re-open to hearing and valuing what the other person is saying. Not easy, but essential.
11. Reflect on any insights or shifts you notice as you do (and repeat) this practice.
“The greatest gift you can give another is the purity of your attention.”
– Richard Moss