We all have a need to feel heard and appreciated. Sharing comes easily for some and can be a struggle for others. This is certainly true with the circumstances in the world today and the varying opinions each may have. Conversations often turn into arguments. What can we do to prevent conversations from becoming combative and defensive? It requires patience and compassion, active listening and honesty.
Whether face to face, over the phone, via text, or in a video meeting, we all need to share space for others to be heard and understood. A healthy conversation requires listening on both sides and hearing multiple thoughts and opinions on a subject, especially in a group setting. You may hear comments you don’t agree with but that doesn’t mean you must force others to accept your opinions or even the facts. You can present them, but after that, it’s up to the listener to accept, reject or do some research for themselves. When something does not hold true for you, you don’t need to react or respond other than to acknowlege the other person’s view. Causing another to defend their position can create barriers to open communication. It’s just information… You can take it or leave it!
When others talk, are you listening or just hearing words? (blah blah blah). Are the parties involved having a conversation, a dialogue or is it a monologue of one? In group settings it is important to stick to the topic at hand to ensure that those listening, and sharing ideas, are on the same page. If the group topic is organic farming, talking about your feelings on war or spousal abuse is not likely to engender an open conversation and may make some people uncomfortable. Choose the place and time to share with like-minded people so you are more likely to receive the support you desire.
Choosing a place & time where the topic will be discussed as a group allows everyone to share from their experiences including failures and successes. That’s how we learn from each other!
–by Kay Lindahl, Mar 09, 2022
Spiritual listening is at the heart of all relationships. It is what we experience when we become a quiet, safe container into which the speaker may express his or her most genuine voice. There is a communion of souls. The way we listen to each other sets a tone for everything that follows. We often think that our speaking, the words we use, is the most important part of our communication. Yet it is the quality of our listening that has the greatest impact in any conversation.
Quaker writer Douglas Steere says: “To listen another’s soul into a condition of disclosure and discovery may be almost the greatest service one human being ever performs for another”. What makes listening spiritual? It is the art of becoming a listening presence, a way of being in which stillness and attentiveness provide the space for people to speak authentically and know they are being heard. It is from this place that we can listen across diverse backgrounds, cultures, religions, and belief systems. It is about being a presence for understanding rather than for judging. When we are open, curious, and attentive to others in this way we discover a deeper, sacred connection; we are in relationship.
Spiritual listening leads to new understanding as we connect to each other at the heart level and discover common ground and new possibilities. To listen without judgment, open, expectant, eager to hear, we cannot be thinking about our response, or what we are going to do next. We must learn to become a listening presence for what wants to emerge.
Hospitality is another element of spiritual listening. In the words of Roman Catholic priest Henri Nouwen: “Listening is much more than allowing another to talk while waiting for a chance to respond. Listening is paying full attention to others and welcoming them into our very beings. The beauty of listening is that those who are listened to start feeling accepted, start taking their words more seriously and discovering their own true selves. Listening is a form of spiritual hospitality by which you invite strangers to become friends, to get to know their inner selves more fully, and even to dare to be silent with you”.
Spiritual listening is a non-linear experience. When we go down deep, we get to something like the tap root. There is a sense of oneness there, unity without duality. We enter into the space with our full selves, hearts, minds, bodies, souls. We begin to remember who we are.
Access to this space comes through the practice of silence and stillness. Spiritual masters of all religions teach the value of stilling the mind and centering the heart. It is from this space that we become witnesses for each other’s deepest hopes and dreams, yearnings, and sorrows; our souls connect.
Becoming comfortable with silence is not easy in modern society. We live in a world of noise, constant stimulation and 24/7 contact with what is happening anywhere on the planet. We unconsciously avoid silence and become anxious when there is no noise; yet there is a richness to silence.
Science is proving the value of stillness in our lives as well. New research indicates that silence releases tension in the brain and in the body. Two minutes of silence are more relaxing than two minutes of relaxing music, reported in the Journal Heart. In a 2013 study on the impact of noise on the brain published in Brain, Structure and Function, it was discovered that with two hours of silence a day, control rats developed new cells in the hippocampus, the center for emotion, memory, and learning. Silence can grow our brains! The more comfortable we become with silence, the more it shifts from something empty, lonely, and to be avoided to something rich, filled with life and yearned for.
Following is an extract from the message of His Holiness Pope Francis on the occasion of the 50th World Communication Day celebrated on the 8th of May 2016.
“Listening is never easy. Many times, it is easier to play deaf. Listening means paying attention, wanting to understand, to value, to respect and to ponder what the other person says. Knowing how to listen is an immense grace, it is a gift which we need to ask for and then make every effort to practice. “
Spiritual listening embodies all of our senses as we offer ourselves to another freely and without expectation, providing the opening for deep communion. It is an exchange from the deepest level of our humanity, we feel at home with one another, resting in the grace and peace of our relationship.
The above article came from dailygood.org with intro by Rev. Kat.
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