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Flowers for listening

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There was a babble of conversation in the background and a bright bunch of flowers on the table. But the clatter in my head was louder. But in spite of all this noise, maybe because of it, she looked at me calmly and intently, ready for me to speak.

This was my first meeting with Nancy Kline in 1999. I didn't know then but this was to be the beginning of a rich journey inwards, outwards and in all directions, as Nancy offered me time to think.

Each session over 16 years was two hours of intense calm while I poured out the jumble of stuff which I had brought with me, while she listened. She gave full attention, looking at me, and occasionally acknowledging what I was saying but never interrupting. This was powerful.

It was so powerful that I often came to realise the obvious. It was obvious at the end of the two hours but had not been at the beginning.

Like the time when I was low on income and had taken on a two day a week assignment with a well known national charity. I immediately noticed that I continually left the necessary tasks undone at the end of the day and at the end of the week. My heart was not in it, but I needed the cash. By the end of the session, I knew, really knew, that there was no life in it for me and I had to let it go.

As I did so, I felt like I was throwing ballast out of a hot air balloon and immediately rose higher. Soon after I was re-engaged by the same charity doing work which I love. There was, and is life in it.

In every session with Nancy, after an hour and a half or more when the stream of my outpourings were subsiding, Nancy would ask ‘Is there anything else you'd like to say?’ Often there was.

Then at the end as we were approached two hours together, she would offer some reflections. She had been listening. Deeply. So I benefited from her profound insights and ‘incisive questions’ which nudged me into a new way of thinking and doing.

Right now, as I write this, I have next to me all the scribbled notes I made after every single session. They remind me of all the twists and turns I took during those years. They also convince me of the power of simple, deep listening, giving uncluttered attention to what is beyond the babble of conversation in the background and the clatter in our heads.

As our first session came to and end, I noticed the flowers again. ‘They are for you’ she said, ‘I brought them to mark the special moment of our first meeting. And so it was.
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Posted on 07-02-2019 at 13:52

To listen is to hear, with attention.

With this blog I invite you to listen with me - to life wherever it may be found: within self, society, our natural environment. My intention is to nourish the life in and all around me and, if you so choose, in and around you too. [More...]

‘Listen for life’ means listening to life (as in ‘is there a pulse?’), listening for all of life (for whatever time we have left), listening to enhance life (so we live more fully).

Our ears are our primary, but not only, organ for hearing. By choosing to attune our brains, we practice listening, and will hear more. And as we hear more we will think, and act, powerfully from that place.

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