Illuminating a Listening Experience
Sometimes the experiences we go through, how we are met and how we navigate the stirrings in our own body-mind highlight what makes listening powerful and brings forth healing and change.
Sometime ago I was grappling with a life situation I found myself placed in that left me restless and ungrounded, one of those things where the mind gets into a tizzy trying to come to terms with a myriad of feelings and thoughts, sometimes conflicting, all at once. Where you find yourself going round and round in circles. It was one of those moments. You know those moments.
I decided this is something I wanted and needed to talk about, have another hold the space for me as I offer such spaces for others. I had three varieties of experiences being listened to that I want to write about.
The first was with someone I knew in a personal space. I felt this person gave me full attention, listened to every word, reflected how I felt (all of which was true) and what I was saying was understood. And even though technically I could see there was everything done that would be in a listening text, it did nothing for my soul.
However, the act of putting what I had in mind into the space without the other having a real felt-sense of what I was saying led to a spiralling of thoughts and emotions. The pot had been stirred. The act of speaking about the issue increased my restlessness. It felt like I just did not reach the other, something within me felt even more unheard.
The following day I had scheduled time with a colleague with whom we regularly hold the space for the other to speak about anything that is there, in a more body-oriented way. For those familiar with Eugene Gendlin’s Focusing, this was a Focusing exchange.
Not surprisingly, this issue brought itself up but there was a `seeing’ without the storm and even the body relaxed and moved into a new ground, a new knowing. It was liberating in the body. There were new insights.
I met a third person with whom I just happened to say what was on my mind and this person listened beautifully, fully allowing. No technique, no process, just simply speaking and listening wholeheartedly. There was kindness and a depth of felt understanding of my inner experience. The result of this listening led to a genuine freeing of spirit. I was free once more.
It is possible that this is was a graduated process. My own inner turmoil being held and listened to with greater depth both within myself and by the other. However, it highlighted for me the importance of the simplicity in the act of listening. Often as practitioners in the field, we get caught in `how to listen’. But listening is not a how to process. The techniques might give us some railing and then we just need to rest in Presence and simply listen and respond from this place. The true power of listening comes from a receptivity in one’s being. It just simply is.