Deep Listening

Description:  Deep Listening is about being fully present with another person, and listening in silence, with a silent mind, in a similar way to how you might listen to the sound of a stream or of a bird singing.  It differs from Active Listening, and is a skill which needs to be learned and practiced, whether in pairs or in a group.   

Purpose: Deep listening is really a state that allows us to connect with a deeper intelligence, that some call instinct, intuition, or inner wisdom.  It is not the normal way we move through our lives, and it is not the active listening you may have learned, where you are trying to help someone find a solution to a problem. When we listen deeply, the person speaking feels more fully understood than is usual, often without words.  However, after the speaking/listening has occurred, if the speaker is open to it, the listener may offer any insights or intuitive responses.  Only the speaker can judge the accuracy or usefulness of such offerings.


Deep Listening is at the heart of many other facilitation methodologies, such as Calling a Circle.


Time: 25-30 minutes or longer (ideally, it takes as long as it takes).


Resources: None


Instructions:  Deep listening requires a minimum of two people, one to speak, and the other(s) to listen. 


First, form into pairs, taking turns speaking/listening for 10 minutes each way.  When you are able to do this well, apply the same methods when deep listening, in larger groups.


Speaker: Speak about anything that you choose, preferably focusing on an issue that matters to you, and speak as long and deeply as the issue requires (say 10 minutes, if time is limited).


Listener: When it is your turn to listen, you must stay in the present, quiet your mind, and hear beyond spoken words to the essence and the feelings of the person behind the words.  You follow wherever the speaker goes, without attempting to comment or interpret.


This requires uncluttering your mind of past judgments or thoughts of the future.  You must let go any sense of urgency or impatience, any beliefs and prejudices you may have about the other person, and any attempt to analyze or figure anything out.  Let go all inner thoughts, any guessing what the person is going to say, preparing how you will respond, or assuming you know what a person is actually saying if they talk about anything you are familiar with. 


More than listening from an empty mind, it is listening from no mind at all!


You simply listen, casually letting any feelings and sounds you receive wash through you.  Notice any feelings you get around your solar plexus or elsewhere in your body, and again, let go any attempt to label or judge these.  In this state, you will hear what is said, and often, what is not said. 

When the speaker has finished speaking, you may decide between you whether you wish to share any insights or intuitions you may have had.  You will usually know if you have achieved a state of Deep Listening, if both speaker and listener(s) feel deeply impacted by what you have shared together.



Resources required: Games Resource List (PDF, 124 KB)