“What?” seems a far-too-frequent question we ask each other. It seems that most of us are usually focused on our own agenda. Thus, we go about our daily lives only vaguely aware of what those around us are experiencing. Ever hear the advice “Wise up!”? Hmm. Let’s reflect on that sage wisdom a bit. Could it involve more attention to not just hearing but to truly deep listening?
Wise men and women know that to listen deeply in order to hear the heart of another is possibly the greatest gift anyone can offer. Most people have learned to “tune out” the noises happening all around us. We have done this so successfully that we often miss even the really important things. So, what’s the answer?
I have discovered that I am capable of giving undivided attention to another when there is a recognized need to be heard and a willingness to come together for that specific purpose. A few years ago I was introduced to a simple technique called Heart Centered Listening. It was developed by Drs. Ron and Mary Hulnick as part of their work at Santa Monica University. It is described in detail in their book Loyalty to Your Soul. It has become an invaluable tool for me personally as well as in my work as a Minister of Peace.
My husband and I use it when we find discord between us. Either of us can request a session. We agree on the amount of time we need to be heard without interruption. We sit facing each other with knees nearly touching and without any physical barrier between us. If it seems really tough, we might have an empty chair available and invite our angels to be with us. Once we determine who begins (usually the one who feels most upset), a timer is set for 15-20 minutes. We have found that, for us, it requires a minimum of 15 minutes to unravel and articulate our thoughts. We agree to speak only about our own thoughts and feelings – no blame, shame or guilt indicators.
Once we sit down, the following 5 steps begin the speaking/listening process:
- First, take 3 deep belly Breaths
- Then, center in your Higher Self
- Next, in silent prayer-like fashion, call forth your Inner Wisdom
- Step four – look into your own heart and clarify your personal Intention/motivation
- Most importantly complete by asking for Spirit’s assistance.
When the timer sounds, we change roles. The one who was speaking listens and vice versa. The 5 steps are repeated each time another person begins a turn. Almost always each session ends delightfully with a new sense of understanding, of being understood and with delicious hugs.
I also use this process for mediation between two people who seem to have irreconcilable differences. In preparation for the Heart Centered Listening session, I recommend that each one journal about the following areas:
- Hurts and disappointments
- Expectations – both past and present – What is it that your heart desires to happen now?
- Qualities you appreciate in the other
- What do you want to be the take away from this session?
We will set aside time for uninterrupted heart-centered listening. Think about what you would like to say about yourself with the clear intention to communicate honestly, non-judgmentally, and lovingly. Your feelings are important simply because you feel them. You already know that all feelings are valid, and neither right nor wrong, good or bad.
In speaking address what only what is alive in you now. Use only I statements about your personal experiences or feelings… ending your comments with… “because I…” in order to take complete responsibility for your inner healing.
Deep Listening is significant because as we mature and evolve, we seem to naturally desire more emotional intimacy and a stronger sense of connectedness with each other. Might it be that if we listen with more awareness that this connectedness just happens automatically? Isn’t it true that most people respond to those they sense really care?
So, how do you plan to cultivate your relationships? Perhaps with DEEP LISTENING?
– Wanda Gail Campbell
Wanda has served thirty plus years as a healthcare professional. Currently, she serves as a Minister of Peace ordained by The Beloved Community. In July, 2007 she completed her PhD in Philosophy focused on Intercultural Peacemaking. For her own spiritual nourishment, she enjoys reading both contemporary and ancient spiritual writings.