Listening with the Ear of the Heart

by | Sep 19, 2020

In these days of pandemic there has been a lot of talk about mental ill health.  The suicide statistics, Lifeline call numbers and the increase incidence of domestic violence are gross indicators that all is not well.  Not surprising, given the urgency with which we have been commanded to “socially distance.”  What an unfortunate choice of words!  Yes, we do need to maintain physical distance from one another, particularly in public spaces and among gatherings of strangers to curb the transmission of COVID-19, but more than ever we need to socially connect.

Over these months, feelings of loneliness, disconnection and isolation have increased for many.  Yet we can do something about this.  In 2018, I was inspired by Sidewalk Talk* a program that fosters human connection one conversation at a time, by sitting and talking with another in public space.  There are also some wonderfully innovative listening initiatives including Listening Posts* and Friendship Benches*.  I have been looking at ways to bring skilled, intentional empathetic listening into our communities.  In conjunction with St Patrick’s Church Hill, I will be offering a three-week introduction to contemplative listening to develop our intentional empathic listening skills.

St Pat’s has for many years offered a community breakfast each Saturday and, more recently on Sunday, mornings for those who are homeless, at risk of homelessness or just seeking company.  It is an oasis in the city!  We know that chronic loneliness and disconnection lead to heart disease and early death, increases in depression and anxiety, social polarization, and increases in impulsive and violent behaviour.  We know that loneliness depletes our soul, zaps our energy, and diminishes our quality of life.  We are all touched directly and indirectly by the effects of loneliness.  This is particularly the case for homeless people.

While these sessions are designed for supporting the homeless, they are useful for anyone who wishes to acquire skills in deep listening.

Week 1: Starting with the Why: listening to foster human connection and well-being
Week 2: Being Fully Present: present to self, present to the other
Week 3: Well-being for All: navigating difficult encounters

9:30 am -12:00 noon Saturdays 10, 17 and 24 October 2020
Crypt of St Patrick’s Church Hill

“Listening is the oldest and perhaps the most powerful tool of healing.  It is often through the quality of our listening and not the wisdom of our words that we are able to effect the most profound changes in the people around us”.
Rachel Naomi Remen.

For further information about “Listening with the Ear of the Heart” or to register for the course contact me at elizabeth.lee@visionandaction.com.au

* Go to www.sidewalk-talk.org to explore Sidewalk Talk’s worldwide program
Go to https://listeningpostanchorage.com to find our more about Listening Posts
Go to www.friendshipbenchzimbabwe.org/ or www.bbc.com/future/article/20181015-how-one-bench-and-a-team-of-grandmothers-can-beat-depression to learn about Frindship Benches.

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