by Elly Barry, Yoga and Body Centred Inquiry
Each of us contain within, a symphony of thoughts, whispers, and truths yet to be given breath. To listen within asks more than the ability to become quiet. To listen to another, more than the willingness to be all ears.
Attributing a gesture of great love and attention to one body part alone, is to fall short. Deep listening begins with the ability to inhabit for a moment, the source of someone else’s longings and unmet needs.
When we listen in this way, we connect with more intimacy to the life and history of another. Listening becomes less of an act and more of an art.
Words find a flow like gathering wind, making melodic tone and rhythm. We are so easily drawn to their surface meaning, but like the wind, words die back into stillness; what we are left with, is their residue.
Words communicate a certain layer of truth, yet truth is often nuanced and multi-layered.
Can we tune into these subtle layers of another, without first having found the courage to explore what is being left unsaid within ourselves?
The dreams we tell no one about.
Feelings that are being buried.
The pain we are ashamed to admit or show.
Stories of our past that keep surfacing, asking that we re-live historical wounds. The shadow nature of our spirit.
Rejected parts of our being.
Our most creative ideas and uncharted territories……
All waiting to be earthed.
These unearthed parts of ourselves often find their way into personal and social communication, triggered in moments of conflict and tension, creating nervous system chaos or collapse.
What we say to ourselves and others is so often just one ingredient in a recipe that has so much flavour.
“I am lonely here, I don’t know if I will ever settle, I wish it was easier to get back home,” – is what I said to you.
“I miss my loved ones and I need your support. I need to find faith that I will continue to build meaningful connections here. Will you be patient with me, hold and uplift me when I am full of doubt again,” – is what I meant.
To listen is to become aware of what is lingering within our own and others’ liminality. It is a full-bodied experience and yet, it’s so hard to express ourselves with awareness in moments of heightened emotional reaction.
“This process requires a check-in,- a quick inventory of what lives in the body that is informing the reaction. Developing the muscle to check in requires more mature forms of consciousness be the lead voice on the matter.” – Pixie Lighthorse.
If this muscle is underdeveloped, what we say in these moments is so often saturated in story and opinion, rather than what is necessary and longing to be communicated. Can we be a good listener without first developing this muscle within ourselves? Is it possible to awaken to the depths of someone else’s experience, hear their many layers, without first having mapped our own inventory?
If we are afraid of what we might find, or we see self-reflective work as unnecessary, indulgent even, how might this affect our ability to communicate well within our many relationships? How might it affect our ability to live a life aligned with personal truth?
I ask these questions not because I have answers but rather because in the past I have been given the title of ‘good listener’. Perhaps this is part of the truth, yet I have a sneaking suspicion that I’m not quite deserving.
I have found myself asking for a while now, what makes a good listener? What is it that invites people to feel heard and have I really been awake to the art of listening within myself?
The answer is both yes and no.
Within the yes, the process feels a little to me like listening for the resonance of the bass note, in a song where the melody is so often sung.
The poet Rumi answers it beautifully.
“Who is making this music?
He sometimes gave the wording over to the invisible flute player saying, let that musician finish the poem.
Words are not important themselves but as resonance from the centre.
Beneath everything we say and within each note of the reeds flute lies an echo of nostalgia, of grace, of longing for the reeds heart.
All language is a longing for home.
All words an invite, to find the compass back to its source.
Anyone called from a source longs to back.”
Elly is a Christchurch born Yoga Teacher, based currently in England. She is a former elite athlete but traded a life of competition and traveling, for a path dedicated to creative awakening through singing and Yoga. She believes in the power of writing words on a page, to help uncover and befriend what is laying low beneath conscious thought. Elly is in the beginning stages of becoming a Certified Yoga Therapist. She has a deep interest in the creative process as a form of therapy, as a way to self regulate, awaken, and heal. She lives in Sheffield, UK with her husband Tom and a springy, Sproodle pup, Obi. Find out a little more about her here: yogawithelly.co.uk or here: https://www.instagram.com/yoga_with_elly_/