At our weekly staff meeting at the drug and alcohol outpatient program where I work, one of my co-workers named Glenn who I consider a wise elder in the field of recovery, reads a dose of inspiration for us from a book published by Hazelden. The topic for 11/12 was called Listening Love. After he reads, we always share the ways in which the blurb impacts on us. This time, the focus was on the idea of being fully present with our clients, with open ears and open hearts.
It occurred to me how often we (myself included) miss out on truly listening because we are wanting to formulate a response, rather than being with that other person as they are, where they are. The judging mind has a field day, contemplating how it can make the other person wrong for seeing things through a different lens and hearing things through a different filter than the one it would prefer.
Back in 2001, I was introduced to a concept that I believe comes from a Native American tradition that is used when tribes sat in council. There were 4 rules used to guide the conversations:
1. Speak from the heart.
2. Listen with the ears of the heart.
3. Be lean of expression.
4. Be spontaneous.
My take on all of this:
The first asks us to share what is really so, from the depths, not just what we think the other person wants to hear.
The second invites us to be that active-listening, safe container presence, taking them (not just their words, but their body language and what isn’t being said) in as completely as we can.
The third tells us to say what we need to say and let it go, not belaboring a point and needing to have the last word.
The fourth beckons us not to plan what we are going to say, but instead, go with the flow of the dialog.
Twice in the past few weeks, I have heard the wisdom of author Mark Nepo (who was just Oprah’s guest on Super Soul Sunday) read to me in this form:
“For centuries, African Bushmen have greeted each other in this way. When the one becomes aware of his brother or sister coming out of the brush, he exclaims, “I See You!” and then the one approaching rejoices, “I Am Here!”
This timeless bearing witness is both simple and profound, and it is telling that much of our modern therapeutic journey is suffered to this end: to have who we are and where we’ve been be seen. For with this simple and direct affirmation it is possible to claim our own presence, to say, I Am Here.”
That, to me is the essence of being listening love. If you were open to seeing and being seen, how would your life be? How would your relationships, whether personal or professional, change and be richer and more fulfilling? Peek-a-boo….I see and hear you~