One of the offerings on our website is, “Lessons in Listening.” Over the years several other listening organizations have taken us up on that offer, but only a handful of individuals have sought us out to learn this practice. Last week I did hear from an individual seeking that very thing.
How would you sum up what you know about listening? With 11 years of listening under our belts and all of our ongoing practice to hone our skills, summing it up might seem like a tall order. But I am reminded of the story that Linda shared with us when friends asked her, “How do you do it? How do you just listen?”
Linda leaned forward, looked them in the eyes and said, “How are you?” and, of course, was simply ready to hear what they might say.
I did not share that story with this new person genuinely seeking to learn how to do what she trusts we do. I did ask why she wanted to learn about listening. Turns out she is in a service field but hadn’t expected that people would share with her far beyond the service they hired her for. She had enough awareness to sense that there is a way to be with people when they share, an authentic way to respond, and was seeking to learn how to do so.
In listening to her story, the ‘lessons’ for listening arose naturally. Pieces fell into place. It was as if her desire for listening drew forth the lessons she already had within. In a mere 30 min she had gleaned enough to be satisfied that she could do this, she had within herself the capacity to respond by listening. I never mentioned to her that we begin and end shifts with a moment of silence. Yet in the depth of feeling met, we both naturally took a deep breath and a moment of silence happened.
All of this took place over the phone. We were not facing one another, looking each other in the eye. But the feeling of being met was palpable. Once we were off the phone I felt the beauty of how listening creates belonging. And belonging suddenly mean something unexpected.
I often think of belonging as ‘getting involved.’ Belonging seems to includes an identity – belonging to a group of folks who share some facet of life. Then, by default, those who don’t value that particular facet of life do not belong.
But listening has proven to demonstrate a belonging in the simple moment of being met. This person seeking to learn the sacred practice of listening and our commitment as a group of folks who listen, met. Simple. Nothing is defined or excluded when we respond through listening. Belonging, in this unexpected sense, leaves everything wide open.
Listening is Belonging. Listening is a blank slate.
Sharing lessons on how to listen is a tender thing. I was moved by this newest request and especially moved by the depth of desire to have the option of listening as a ‘tool’ to reach for. And, I am grateful for this level of belonging and creativity.
As always, all my gratitude for your listening heart,