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Sunday, December 18, 2016

Mindfulness: Deep Listening Heals

'Take a walk at night. 
Walk so silently that the bottoms of your feet become ears.'

Pauline Oliveros, Deep Listening Composer

Deep Listening: What is it?
Pauline Oliveros, the composer who championed ‘Deep Listening,’ died this year at 84. Although I'd been intrigued by the practice of listening deeply for 25 years I never really thought about how 'deep listening' came about. It just seemed to always be present.
I was first introduced to the use of sound therapy for healing and also deep listening in the early 1990's when I began to explore it in my own life.  
I remember the moment I first learned about deep listening from my dear friend, Karen King, who had just attended yet one more 10 hour workshop to expand her mind. As we sat in a Mexican Restaurant, sipping on Margaritas, I asked her to tell me about the course she had been attending, to which she replied, 'It's all about listening deeply.
We sat silently looking into each other's eyes--neither of us wanting to be the first to speak after that deep thought until we both burst out laughing. 

In a forever contest to be the wisest, each of us wanted to be the one to do the deepest listening.....yet our ability to see through our mutual game and laugh at ourselves won out as always. 

Deep listening isn't about looking serious, wise and calm to others. It's about sitting still within yourself to better access acceptance, stillness, and being without judgment.  In this deep listening state healing--and even laughter--can take place for you and the recipients of your listening.

Listener Heal Thy Self: Listening to Sounds in the Distance 

One of the ways I've learned to use deep listening for healing myself is to 'listen to sounds in the distance'. 
When I stumbled on this idea I'd been pondering how a sweet sound--like a bird singing--could become a cacophony of noise to the listener if it got too close and you couldn't get away from it. I discovered if I shifted my attention to listening deeply to sounds in the distance, the further away I listened, the more noise became 'the calming sound of silence'.  

Listening to sounds in the distance soon became a regular practice for me when out for a walk. This simple deep listening practice calms my mind each and every time.

Listening is a process that puts you in a state of flow and as such automatically removes you from the over-analyzing frame of mind that creates the noise in your head. The next time the noise in your head gets too loud and you feel you can't get away from the stress of it, try projecting your listening far away. 

A wise man once said nothing....

Deep Listening: Healing and Calming Others

This year, while catching up with friends I learned about a program they were volunteering with called The Listening Post. Program Volunteers make themselves available to sit with--and listen to--people who are marginalized, isolated and alone. They listen to the downtrodden without trying to fix anything. It is the ultimate 'deep listening to heal' program.  You show up to be with people and simply listen.

The Listening Post

'The Listening Post provides active, non-interventionist listening to those who are marginalized, isolated and alone in the Ashland community. It is an offering of the hospitality of presence. It is not an intent to impose any beliefs, provide counseling, advise, rescue or fix. Such listening empowers, validates, affirms, comforts and assists others in attaining a sense of wholeness.'

Close Your Mouth and Listen with Your Eyes and Ears

This compassionate deep listening without intervening can be used with your friends and family as well. 

Too often we fail to truly listen to those around us who are feeling isolated and alone, choosing to move into a fix-the-problem mode instead. 

What people need most when they're hurting is to be listened to--to be heard. Nothing speaks more loudly that you care about someone than a closed mouth and open ears.

💙 Who do you know that could use a good listening ear?  Why not give the gift of deep listening--or listening from a distance? Whether in person, in email, or by phone--your just being present to listen while someone else vents is the most compassionate gift you can give.

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For more than 35 years, Susan Meyerott has been helping people lighten up and step over invisible barriers to change one step at a time. She speaks to your heart, puts you at ease, and makes letting go and moving forward with life easier than ever before.

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Susan Yeagley said...

Love this. Just spent time a few weeks ago with a family member who constantly interrupts others. Never listening. Rarely hearing their message, point, joke, etc. It just made me sad. He is such a great guy in so many ways, but sometimes this just makes it hard to be around him. People who can listen seem so much more comfortable in their own skin, happier people overall. It's something I've been working on and much more conscious of in the past few years. Great article, Susan. <3

Susan J Meyerott, M.S. said...

Susan--thanks for your comments! Deep listening to a family member who constantly interrupts others and never listens could very well be healing. If all you do is listen you can't be interrupted. We can't make that other person listen, but we can listen ourselves. That may be the very person who feels marginalized and alone in their life--and thus feels the need to interject himself.

Its so difficult to stay present with a person like that--but that's what deep listening is all about--to let someone who truly feels alone know someone is really listening.


Jean | said...

Sue, this is another great one! But, funny thing, your response to the first comment was just as powerful as the post. I know people who "interject" themselves, and it never occurred to me that they might do that because they feel marginalized. I can't wait to try this technique.

Susan J Meyerott, M.S. said...

Jean--don't hold your breath that the person you listen to will suddenly sit quietly. These very often ARE the ones who feel marginalized in the middle of a crowd. Yet it is such an interesting practice to just listen to them without comment. The desire to be heard is such a deep human need.