Thank you All for this beautiful string of conversation.
Jerry, what you shared below also reminded me of this short story. I offer it below.
If You Really Pay Attention
When I was a little bitty kiddy, about five, my Dad began a process … anytime somebody came and said something to us, my dad would say, "You remember what he said, honey girl?” I would tell my father what the person said until I got so good at it that I could repeat verbatim even long presentations of what the person had said.
And he did this all the time.
Finally, one day there was this old gentleman, Richard Thompson. I still remember his name, he lived across the street. And every time my Dad started to mow the lawn, there came Mr. Thompson. And so I would stand out there.
Dad says, “You might come and listen to this man, honey girl. He’s pretty interesting.” And so I listened to him, and then my dad would say, “What did you hear him say?” And I would tell him.
Well, eventually I was repeating all the stories he liked to share with my dad verbatim. I knew them all by heart.
And my Dad says, “You’re getting pretty good at that. But did you hear his heart?" And I thought, what? So I went around for days with my ear to people's chest trying to hear their hearts.
Finally my Dad created another learning situation for me by asking my mother to read an article from the newspaper. He says “Well, I guess if you want to understand that article, you have to read between the lines."
I thought, "Oh, read between the lines. Hear between the words."
So the next time I listened to Mr. Thompson’s stories, I tried to listen between the words. My Dad said, “I know you know his story, but did you hear his heart?” And I said, "Yes. He is very lonely and comes and shares his memories with you again and again because he’s asking you to keep him company in his memories."
It just came out of me. In other words, my heart echoed his heart.
And when you can listen at that level, then you can hear not only the people. If you really pay attention, you can hear what the Universe is saying.
--Paula Underwood, clan mother of the Turtle clan, Iroquois nation
new "ear", new "listening"...
one resource for this, that I don't think has been mentioned yet,
is Focusing practice...
learning to listen to our bodies, our intuition, our larger knowing...
and, learning to hold space for others in this way, so that they can listen more deeply to their own wisdom...
Eugene Gendlin, the originator of Focusing, was a student and colleague of Carl Rogers...
He is also a philosopher, so please don't let that aspect of the practice scare you off;
which is describes focusing as a tool for supporting one's own emotional healing.
if anyone is interested in experiencing this deep listening practice,
there are ways to do so for free, at
I also highly recommend the following teleclass, as an opportunity to observe the work in action...
and, there is also the upcoming summer school, for those who are wanting to delve more deeply...
Several major teachers will be there, each with their own approach to this deep listening practice:
August 18-24, in Garrison, NY
with all best wishes,
One resource you might find helpful as you think about your design, Jen, is the work within the Compassionate Listening Project (http://www.compassionatelistening.org/). I took their basic course, and what I found helpful are exercises to create an awareness of how you are listening to others and how your worldview impacts what you hear/the way you hear it. Their book outlines some of the listening exercises they use in their workshop. It helped me realize that listening is art, that can be practiced daily. You can find the book on their website: "The Practice of the Art of Compassionate Listening"
In my experiences with leadership teams you can say the words "listen with attention" and many think they understand what that means. It is not until they have had the actual experience of listening with their heart and speaking from their heart that they begin to understand the variety of "ways" you can listen. I have also found that people who have a difficult time listening, have often never experienced being "heard", so perhaps teaching the leadership team how to host themselves and to host each other with an intentional focus on listening to self and listening to each other might be useful as a part of a larger shift. Just a thought. As I am writing this, I am thinking that if you can gain an understanding of "how" you listen, you might be more open to strategies for learning how to listen differently.
I believe Jerry Nagel has also done some work in this area and adapted some of the compassionate listening exercises for the AoH trainings in St. Paul, MN. Give a call if you'd like to talk more. Hope you are well!
Another wonderful resource:
Kay Lindahl's book and companion guide -
Practicing the Sacred Art of Listening
The Sacred Art of Listening: Forty Reflections for Cultivating a Spiritual Practice