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Deep Listening

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As I gaze and feel around our collective world, I hear a lot of yelling and feel a lot of turbulence. Where there’s not quite yelling, there are strong statements of what should be happening on many fronts. People’s deep fears are being unearthed and brought to light in ways never before felt and seen on our planet. Our internet connections provide new outlets that allows us the opportunity share our perspective and opinions loud and clear to anyone within our range. This is a fabulous development in our world which longs for connection. It allows us to reach further out into the world, find common ground and effect change. It also brings a lot of information, fast and possibly furious, into our personal world. It has its pluses and minuses, as we know all too well.

As these places in our world begin to unravel their sticky, dark patterns, there is a lot coming to light that we simply have not experienced or dealt with before. Many of us have little to no experience in relation to some of the points of view and perspectives we are seeing and hearing from these deep wounded places. We simply do not have the knowledge, understanding and point of reference. That, coupled with our conditioning to put out into the world what’s on our mind first, opens up the possibility of being numb to the other side needed in order to have a conversation—Deep listening.

Are We Hearing or Listening?

Listening is quite different from hearing. We all have experience with this. We say something and the other hears our words, but doesn’t hear our heart. Listening requires attention, presence, vulnerability and openness. Listening requires that we have all cylinders firing so to speak. Listening requires we see the other, meaning we take the time to look at them directly, with receptivity. Deep listening requires we listen to what’s underneath. Ultimately, this requires we move our own agenda to the background, at least for a moment, so we are able to give our full attention. This action in and of itself allows our ears to turn toward the voice and truly pick up, register and digest the deeper aspects of the content. This space of listening allows deep healing.

Challenges arise if words we hear aren’t familiar to our individual perspective or beliefs. When this happens, the potential for our hackles of protection to rise increases, even if it’s an unconscious action. In order to stay in relationship and listen, it’s necessary to a) know our hackles are raised and b) have the desire and ability to soften them and c) have the tools to do so. Without these actions, the conversation stops. The talking may continue, but there is no longer a receptivity to the other.

Relationships fail when listening stops. Arguing points with data is not a listening conversation. Data from research is one aspect of understanding, yet it is not something on which to hinge a true and deep conversation. Understanding and listening are two very different experiences. Listening requires more of you. It actually requires you suspend understanding—maybe for the moment, maybe for longer. It requires your heart, willing and open, to come to a meeting place where connection can occur. If the other is not of this same awareness and desire, the conversation does not happen and an opportunity passes.

In order for any reconciliation or healing of a situation to take place, listening is required. It may be an inner listening for a personal reconciliation. Situations outside of our internal conversation may receive listening directly from the parties involved if, and only if, both participants are able to stay open. In situations where protection and hackles are up so much that openness is not available, listening comes more often from another source entirely.

Holding a Bigger Space

The ultimate ingredients for listening to occur is 1) to be able to hold the situation in attention and awareness (a wide space) 2) allow within this space the elements to be experienced, and 3) let the challenge expand and ultimately discharge or diffuse. Agreement of a challenge is not even entirely necessary. But when we allow space for deep listening, the elements shift simply by being given room to breathe.

Deep listening requires we hold a bigger space—both for ourselves and for the other. When we’re hurt, this is incredibly challenging to do. Vulnerability, which equates with openness, does not coexist well when we are hurt or triggered. Deep listening and vulnerability go hand in hand. We have to be able to relate with compassion – which literally means ‘to feel with.” If we’re feeling strong sensations and emotions on our side, then the requirement of us is that much greater. Can we hold both our unsettling experience and the unsettling experience of the other at the same time? This is not easy. It takes time, practice and desire to be present to both. Often we’re more able to hold only ourselves, especially if we are feeling deeply inside already.

Listening from a neutral source doesn’t mean you are detached and distant. Deep listening requires the space of compassion, of feeling with, without being overwhelmed or pulled off our own center. It is you, me and the space between and around us. To be listened to deeply is an incredibly healing space. It is a space of being seen, heard, felt and met. Not everyone is able to do this and not everyone is meant to. It requires a strong connection to Self and a line of connection to the other. We are all in our own individual places, doing our own unique work through our own center of connection. When we reach out to others and see, hear and feel them, we are connecting hearts in the most beautiful of ways. We each have our own style and preferences. When we honor the way we’re made, and connect through our hearts, we are actually agents of change, bringing light to dark and unclear places. This is one way we bring this outer world into the idyllic world we see in our dreams—one heart at a time.