I've been thinking about listening...

The Undeniable Healing Power Of Deep Listening

In 1985, the average American had three people in whom to confide matters that were important to them. By 2004, that number had dropped to two confidants with as many as 25% of Americans having no one in whom to confide.

Confiding is natural in a close relationship - the kind of relationship that provides a safety net when dealing with the confusing affairs of life. The mechanism that encourages confiding is the practice of listening. Unfortunately, most of us are woefully inadequate in the practice of listening - at least the kind of listening that incorporates a narrowing of focus directed solely to the person in front of us. Because we do not listen, we often miss the undeniable healing power of this simple but deeply complex and subtle process.

You may feel like I do. I think I am fairly skilled at asking good questions. I am not so gifted at sitting back and keeping silent! But isn't deep listening really allowing space for more possible factors to enter the equation?

What factors might contribute to the healing process God has designed for the person in front of me? Teacher and author, Karen Mains, shares some thoughts about how deep listening actually contributes good things to both the speaker and the listener by:

• providing an opportunity where an individual can be fully heard;
• strengthening the hearer's ability to listen on three levels - to the speaker, to the inner nudges of the Holy Spirit and to inner reactions;
• understanding there is wisdom, given by God to each person involved, which is best accessed by prayerful listening;
• creating space for the Holy Spirit to do the work of leading an individual to truth;
• encouraging unceasing silent prayer in the hearer;
• allowing for the uncomfortable reality that it is okay to allow issues to go unresolved, pain to come forth without being hushed or patted away or hurried;
• reinforcing the fact that it is okay for there to be no closure during time together

So what have we learned about the process of deep listening? It's clear that deep listening benefits and accelerates spiritual, emotional and psychological growth in everyone who gets involved! And it is also clear that healing follows on the heels of deep listening because we all yearn to experience one of those unusual moments when someone turns their full, undivided, uninterrupted attention our way.