St Mary's Abbotsford Convent 1 St Heliers Street, Abbotsford Victoria | +61 3 9419 9229

Parents’ College Week 5


Listening

(to that which is hard to hear)

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Matt opened the session with a relaxation exercise and some quotations

I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something. And because I cannot do everything I will not refuse to do the something that I can do. – Hellen Keller

If you begin the day with love in your heart, peace in your nerves, and
truth in your mind, you not only benefit by their presence but also bring
them to others, to your family and friends, and to all those whose destiny
draws across your path that day. – Unknown

When our eyes see our hands doing the work of our hearts, the circle of Creation is completed inside us, the doors of our souls fly open, and love steps forth to heal everything in sight. – Michael Bridge

We again welcomed new parents who joined us, introduced ourselves and the emerging work of the Parents’ College.

Brigitte then turned to the topic for the day.

She first connected this discussion with those held over the last five weeks, remembering the path from Belonging to difficult transitions and crossing the Rubicon to forgiveness (and especially ourselves) to being present and aware in the Here and Now and finally today to being present as we listen.

She read a poem which relates to the theme of being present –  to listening to the “voice of being”,  which helps to step over hurdles and obstacles in our life and relationships.  It is I who must begin from Vaclav Havel (also read last week).

We began with an exercise in pairs, turning to the person next to us and expressing the thing we had to say that we felt was not listened to or heard in the world about parenting, school or our children.

The first person spoke for a few minutes and then their partner spoke. There was warm bubbling of discussion and chatter for some minutes. Brigitte brought us all back together as group. She then asked each person in the circle to tell the story of what their partner had expressed. This went around the circle with many different stories covering lack of appreciation, lack of awareness of sacrifice, lack of understanding and appreciation.

We all commented on how nice to felt to have our partners express our story. How we felt heard and supported and validated by that simple act. We moved to a more generic conversation about listening (and the lack of it) in our daily lives, about how our culture in general is more “head -centered’ than on connecting to our heart and each other. We also talked about the impact of how we talk and listen on our relationships.

“Our conversations invent us.

Through our speech and our silence, we become smaller or larger selves.

Through our speech and our silence, we diminish or enhance the other person, and we narrow or expand the possibilities between us.

How we use our voice determines the quality of our relationships, who we are in the world, and what the world can be and might become.”

Harriet Learner (The Dance of Connection)

It takes two to speak the truth – one to speak and another to hear.
Henry David Thoreau

Brigitte introduced the 4 Levels of Listening from Theory U as a tool for understanding and practising listening for better and deeper connection. See this link for more background on Otto Scharmer and Theory U

1. Downloading

2. Factual Listening

3. Empathic Listening

4. Generative Listening

4 levels of listening

We talked about how developing a practice of becoming present in the moment and observing our own levels of listening is helping to stay connected  or to re-connect when the communication is emotionally challenging.

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Matt ended the session with another centering short meditation.

We discussed next week’s session which will be the last for the Term. Rather than guided practice we will be having an open discussion reviewing what we have achieved so far and where and how we would like to travel next Term.

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