Deep listening or “catching the clues”!

I have had quite a year this year – and so say all of us!

I was talking with a friend on the phone the other night and we were comparing notes on our respective years. In passing she said, “Well, for you, this year is about success of the heart.” It was a spot on observation and such a gift to hear the essence of my year described so simply.

It is a year of success of the heart: from the work my husband and I are doing together as we learn how to craft a marriage into our future, from loving and letting my son go into adulthood as he turns 21, to the questions I am raising about my ‘heart’s desires’ – particularly in the domains of relationship and work.

In the past I have run celebrant workshops on “Deep Listening – the art of client interviewing” where we have talked about how we listen to a client in such a way as to ‘get’ what they want. This involves listening to what is said and watching for all the other clues that are present – watching for the emotional congruence of body language and questioning to get clear about what they may be uncertain of. The measure of success of our deep listening is found in a ceremony that clients experience as just right for them and their guests ‘get’ that it is just right also.

My reflection here is on the deep listening that seems to be helpful when I interview myself to find out just what it is I am seeking.

Because my friend and I like and trust each other, we are able to talk and listen in a deep way, and I was ready to receive her ‘success of the heart’. As my reflections on it deepened during the day I became so excited that I had to ring her and say thanks that same night.

I have had a number of other occasions this year where people I entrust myself with have made observations that, listened and caught – usually in a split second – have been life changing. One such comment was that I appeared to be ‘over-managing’ a relationship. This was painful to catch and in the catching it was really clear that I needed to behave differently if anything was to change. I was able to hear and act on this one word, because I was ready to. The observation was truly timely.

The one I am still grappling with is the question an Australian friend raised during a regular conversation that we have. She asked, “What is happening with YOUR work?” In other words the work that is mine to be doing – not necessarily the work I am currently engaged in and paid for. It is a damn fine, stimulating and unsettling question as I do have further dreams and schemes lurking.

It is also one I don’t have a clear answer for. I am practising deep listening to myself as I allow various answers to float to the surface – do they pass the deep listening test of being worthy of follow up? I plan to talk with other possible partners in my further work and listen deeply for their interest, their reflections on the things they may have thought of that I haven’t – listening yet again for the ‘clues’ that I am on track.

Actually what I am deep listening for is the answers that must be followed up on. “Over-managing” required in the first instance a meditation where I asked for and received help with my confusion. Then I was compelled to take the further action that has indeed been part of my ‘success of the heart’ year.

One clue I had during meditation recently was that whatever my next work is I will have a team wrapped around me. This particular clue has stayed with me strongly – complete with spine tingles!

So for now I am ‘deep listening’ for those clues that get a “Yes that’s it!” or give me tingles down my spine – both indicators for me that I really need to pay attention and that my being is supported by ‘spirit’.

Whether for me or with others, the common elements of deep listening appear to be:
 Our own availability – our willingness to learn, to acknowledge the level of angst we are experiencing
 The authority or trust that we grant the speaker or writer to say something of meaning to us
 Valuing ourselves – accepting that we are worthy of deep listening on our own behalf
 The serendipity of it all
 The unseen, deeply felt role of spirit