deafening silence, unexpected gifts…

This New Year is bringing the gift of a greater integration between “inner listening practices” and “outer listening practices”… the fruits of a vision I’ve held for the last decade. This is a story about a recent inner journey that has a lot of implications for the “outer listening” work that many of us do. I’d love to hear any of your thoughts, below…

The initial “trigger”

I recently had the experience of posting about something in an online community… and, for a fairly extended period of time, receiving zilch response. As I had posted about a very personally meaningful event, lots of feelings were stirred by this “deafening silence”… which in the end, turned out to be a wonderful practice opportunity.

I was blessed to have a skilled listening partner who was willing to sit with me as a Focusing partner, as I explored my own inner landscape, using a combination of Focusing and other “inner listening” practices.

I’ve been working a lot with inquiry recently. When I don’t know what question to invite inside, I start out by asking, “what is the most helpful question I could ask myself here?” What came in response this time was, “what is the blessing in this experience?”

This question felt a bit challenging at first, as I was very aware of the pain and discomfort that were present. At the same time, I was willing to consider that there might be some blessing here, and so began to sit with my experience, in a focusing way… noticing how I was feeling, welcoming any insights that might be arising…

“not alone”

The first thing that came, was the realization that I was not alone. Memories arose of times when others have mentioned their own discomfort, in similar situations…

This felt very helpful… helping to shift the “top layer” of my inner experience from a shame-based, “what is wrong with me, for taking this so personally…” to a more compassionate stance of, “oh! this is a human situation I’m experiencing… something that many of us humans experience from time to time… and yes, it can be painful when it happens…”

I mentioned this initial shift to my listening partner… took some time to feel, how the whole situation felt differently now… and in doing so, I noticed another layer… while something had eased, there was still a sense of sadness inside…

noticing the shift from creativity to defensiveness…

The next thing I noticed was how defensive I felt inside… and how different that felt, than the initial excitement with which I had shared my news. Some part of me felt like I now had to prove or defend somehow, the value of what I had shared…

and then, I “got it”. Oh my goodness! This is how can feel for us humans, when we are in a social situation and make an offering, which then appears to be completely unacknowledged…

Now, my work-in-the-world is working with groups… and so I already “know” this truth very well, about the importance of validating each person’s contribution. Making sure that each person’s contribution is heard and acknowledged is a key part of my practice… and yet suddenly I felt like I was “knowing” this familiar truth, in a much more visceral and connected way…

Some very vulnerable part of me had been gently touched with my mind’s awareness, and my head and my heart were both saying… “THIS… right here… this is what’s so valuable, this is one of the gifts that your facilitation work offers to others….”

And I could sense how my workshops teaching facilitation could be different from now on, by being willing to tap into and share into this deeply personal experience… teaching more “from the inside”, as it were…

mourning the break in connection…

As I realized this second insight, and took time to find the words to share it with my partner, I could feel another layer of pain melting into blessing… yet when I asked again inside, “how am I feeling now, about all this?” I sensed a further layer of sadness…. something felt lonely, like a “broken connection” with the community that I had attempted to connect with, online…

I realized this place felt stuck… it wanted to connect, yet it didn’t see how to do it… it didn’t want to become insistent, by re-posting again on the list, and asking for a response… yet at the same time, the only alternative felt like a lonely “slinking away”…

Again, the shift or “resolution” came in the form of an insight regarding my professional work… “Ahhh… this is what can happen inside to someone’s sense of connection with a group, when they remain unacknowledged in a group setting…”

And while my own situation regarding my relationship with this particular group remained the same, there was a feeling of much greater ease around the whole situation that came, as I acknowledged my mourning…

and also, a growing excitement: These insights are juicy! What else might be here?

no place for the gift…

As I turned my attention inside again, I realized that I was not just mourning the loss of connection with the people involved… there was also something else, something about “no place to offer the gift”. The news I had tried to share, was not just something about myself… it was also a contribution that I was wanting to make to others. And now, in the lack of response, it felt like there was “no room” where this gift could be received. It wasn’t just about “me” not feeling connected, there was also something about “this gift” that I was holding,…

Again, a shift of relief came, as I realized more deeply, something that I “already knew”; how much each person in a group is wanting to contribute, and how the context can affect so greatly, whether the rest of us are able to receive those gifts or not.

impermanence, change, and agency…

…and THEN I realized in a flash, both how “real” my experience felt in the moment… AND ALSO… how easily it could change. I could easily imagine how one friendly comment, from a single person on the list, might immediately shift my experience…

along with this, came a deeper realization of how each of us, in any group situation, has the power to affect others in this way…

completion….

And now, with a heart full of joy and wonder at this rich harvest of blessings, I felt complete and overflowing…. time for expressing my deep gratefulness to my listening partner, for his spacious witnessing of my process… and to allow the gifts of this experience, to continue to resonate in my being… and beyond.

May we all grow and deepen in our ability to support ourselves and to support one another, along our shared journey together…

5 thoughts on “deafening silence, unexpected gifts…

  1. Hi Rosa,

    This is beautiful, rich, full – allows me to appreciate the many times I have experienced you offering a generous response and what a warm feeling that gives me. I am inspired now to pay better attention to those opportunities!

  2. Thank you, Christy… I believe I may have learned this, from you! 🙂
    You’ve been quite an inspiration to me, as one of the most naturally gifted facilitators that I know…

  3. Wow! My first time on your blog as a result of clicking on links from your upcoming workshop in Ottawa. I am feeling so inspired by how you have modeled elements of NVC and related work in this post. And as others have said, it connects me also to my own experiences of tThank-you.

  4. thank you, Blake! I wrote this up with the encouragement of my dharma teacher, Lyn Fine… she is a fan of NVC, and other listening practices as well… thanks for connecting!

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