This past weekend I took a day off from the usual Ahimsa business and decided to take a Deep Listening workshop. The class was taught by my friend Lotus Sattva who has a long history in Leadership, Community Building and Social Permaculture. I didn’t know exactly what to anticipate. I knew I felt compelled to go, and that I was interested in learning more about how to build my conscious communication skills.
There were about 12 participants in the workshop, from varied backgrounds and professions. I, like many at the workshop think of myself as a relatively well adapted and trained listener at multiple levels – myself, my clients and my community. But we had a shared curiosity to find out what we could learn to strengthen communication and relationships?
I would like to believe that all communication practices should come naturally. Perhaps they did for our ancestors. But in today’s world communication is a bit more complicated because of our wide networks of responsibilities, the complex economy, and all the new technologies. So the first message from the workshop was important – we all could use a reminder that listening is a special and important part of communication – and that we may need to unplug, go out into nature or some calm spot, listen and be. I would like to share some of tools I learned at the workshop and that I found extremely valuable and that spoke to me. We will touch on some basics that I hope inspire you to communicate better with yourself and others.
The symbolism of the Medicine Wheel
The medicine wheel is a symbol that has been used through the ages. Within a circle there is a cross. One interpretation of this symbol is the following: The vertical line of the cross on represents the self, and its relationship to the earth and divine, going up and down. The horizontal line then represents the self’s relationship with everything and everyone around you, how you interact with the world. The circle around the cross represents all that is, everything and oneness. Contemplate the wheel – it starts with relationship to self, then to others and then to life. When we are able to consciously connect like this we can rebalance, ground and deeply listen. You can see it as a meditation, or you can use these relations to reflect on every facet of your life.
How to begin to listen
One of the biggest things I walked away with, was the importance of personal expression. What an amazing tool that leads us to ground ourselves and possibly find some answers to our questions.
What does your self-expression look like? Well everyone’s path may be different but one recommendation is to start with creating expression — dancing, drawing, writing or whatever feels exciting. Do this without an agenda or judgement but instead with pure expression of self. Go to the point you feel you are in a meditative state where you are given the space to listen to yourself, your body and everything around you more deeply. Listen to how it makes you feel; Listen to whether you feel anything in your body. Ask yourself – Did you receive any guidance or any reflection? This is only a first step of using this tool from the workshop — if you are interested in taking the workshop, I will leave contact info at the bottom. For now this is a great starting place to be able to let go and receive. There is no wrong way of doing this, love yourself. Here is a picture of me exploring through dance during the workshop.
Some other tools go further. One was a way to find what you would like help with at this time. Ask yourself – What feels potent? What needs attention? Look at the words written below depicting categories of our selves – How are you doing in each of these categories? It’s really beautiful when you start reflecting on each of these, truly connecting with every aspect of your life. Take a few moments to connect, then write down the date and any goal you have for each one of these categories:
Think about co-coaching with your friends
We often turn to our friends for help with our lives, from our highest to lowest moments. You can turn to your friends to practice deep listening skills through co-coaching. Co-coaching is something that can be a gentle and conscious and effective way of helping yourself, your friends and your loved ones. Give the space and time for a friend to explain and release an issue while you listen. Confirm if the goal is to vent, to understand, or to problem solve. After they feel they are done talking, you can listen further – you can silently listen to your surroundings, your bodies and your feelings. Whenever you collectively feel done, you may share any thoughts that came up, Reflect on any insights or guidance from your connection to each other and the world. Find your place to end and a possible action. Now you can switch, you can keep a timer if you please, time can be hard to keep during these times, if that is important to you.
These are all simple yet effective tools to consider about deep listening, expression and connection. If you have gotten this far, I imagine you will try at least one of these if not all of them and do it your way. We have the option to open ourselves up and tune-in. We can learn to hear the most subtle messages when we have the chance to listen. We can deepen our relationship with self, others, and everything that is. It is something we have to relearn so we can remember, share and bring back deep listening skills into the human experience.
You can find more about Lotus and her work at wesource.us. She teaches in Colorado, California and Hawaii. I would definitely recommend contacting her for one-on-one coaching or hosting her for a training near you. I had a lovely time at her workshop and found I was drawn in for a reason.