Mindful Listening

Just last week, I attended a Mindful Communication Workshop, at Fort Lewis College, in celebration of Martin Luther King Day. At the workshop we utilized the practice of mindfulness to learn to listen more deeply to others and to develop greater clarity and confidence about how to respond to conflict. We did a love and kindness meditation, compassion practice, and mindful listening practice. All three practices can be done at any age and at anytime.

Most people don’t listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply. Stephen M Covey

Mindful Listening would especially align with Unit three in that it offers a way to practice listening, helps recognize those who are struggling, and builds empathy.


Mindful Listening

The word ‘listen’ contains the same letters as the word ‘silent.’ Alfred Brendel

Everyone finds a partner. One person speaks; the other listens. The listener listens as carefully as possible, legging go of interpretations, judgments, and reactions. When the speaker finishes, the listener repeats as closely as possible what the speaker said, until the speaker feels truly heard. The following instructions are for the person who leads:

  1. To both partners:One partner will spend three to five minutes speaking [with kids 1 – 2 minutes] about a subject: what they liked about their weekend, how they celebrated a holiday, what was their best and worst part of the day, etc.
  2. To the speaker:This time is yours. If you run out of things to say, you may sit in silence and whenever you have something to say you may continue speaking again.
  3. To the listener: “Your job is to listen in silence. When you listen give your full attention to the speaker. Be curious, but don’t ask questions while listening. You may acknowledge with facial expressions or by nodding your head. Try not to over acknowledge, or you may end up leading the speaker. You may feel the urge to interrupt, coach, chime in: this is normal. Just notice when this occurs, resist the temptation to act and refocus your attention on your partner. Listen with kindness. When thought or emotions come into your mind, simply notice them and gently return your full attention to the speaker. If the speaker runs out of things to say, give him or her the space for silence, and then be available to listen when he or she speaks again.”
  4. To the listener: “After your partner has finished telling the story, repeat what you have been told; don’t worry about memorizing – paraphrase. Have your partner correct you if you misunderstood the story. Ask questions to be sure you understand, as closely as possible, what your partner intended to say.”
  5. To both partners: “When the speaker is satisfied that he or she has been heard and comprehended, switch roles. Now it is the listener’s turn to tell a story until he or she feels heard.”
  6. To both partners: ” Reflect on how it feels to be listened to so closely and what it felt like to listen deeply to another. Remember to listen to the words but also the tone, the emotion undercurrent. This is an important way to stay connected at times where it may be difficult to connect to the ideas or perspective being expressed.”
  7. To both partners: End by thanking each other for listening.

Just for fun and for the sake of loving beyonce…

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