FIONA REILLY: “Four Tips for Effective Listening”

The gift of being heard is something really precious. Having someone listen attentively to our expression or story is very healing and can enable us find our own understanding, acceptance, balance and joy again. Listening sounds like a very simple thing and indeed it is, yet many of us struggle to listen effectively. Being a good listener requires being present and fully attentive to the other. It is not about offering advice or fixing anything or making the other feel better, it’s simply being there and paying attention.

 

“Whatever life we have experienced, if we can tell our story to someone who listens, we find it easier to deal with our circumstances.”

~Margaret J. Wheatley

 

Four Tips for Effective Listening

So how might we listen more effectively… there are many things that can help! Below I outline four suggestions that I have found to be fundamental to good listening.

Be Present

Initially, it is vital to be present and with the speaker, to give them our full attention. If possible find a quiet place for a listening exchange where you are unlikely to be disturbed. Turn off phones and any background noise. Honour your boundaries, if you feel you only have 20 minutes to listen, say so at the beginning so the boundaries are clear or explain that now is a not a good time and arrange to connect when the time is right. To the best of your ability come from a place of acceptance and compassion and avoid judgement of them or their story. Be fully attentive to them and the energy between you.

 

“Listening is such a simple act. It requires us to be present, and that takes practice, but we don’t have to do anything else. We don’t have to advise, or coach, or sound wise. We just have to be willing to sit there and listen.”

~Margaret J. Wheatley

 

Simply Listen

Many of us want to try to fix and make things better for the other person, yet the most beneficial way is for them to work through whatever is arising and to find their own solutions. The way to help someone feel better is to encourage them to be with their pain or confusion or whatever their experience is, to explore it and then they may feel empowered to move through it. Telling someone they need to be strong or things will get better or something similar isn’t effective longterm and can be disempowering. So try not to fix the situation or offer solutions unless they are invited. When listening our purpose isn’t to make a person feel better, simply by having their experiences heard in a non-judgemental and accepting way can allow things to shift and heal.

 

“The human soul doesn’t want to be advised or fixed or saved. It simply wants to be witnessed — to be seen, heard and companioned exactly as it is.”

~Paul Parker

 

Focus On the Speaker’s Perspective

While it’s useful to be able to identify with their experience, telling someone of your similar experience is not usually helpful, so try not to habitually compare their situation to one that you have experienced. It is of course fine if you are having a two way conversation, however if you want to encourage a person to explore their experience, your story isn’t what they need to hear, at least not until they have worked through their own stuff. It can take from what the speaker is saying and turns the attention away from them. Occasionally it may be appropriate to share your own experience, use your intuition on when that feels right. You could check with the speaker if they’d like you to share what happened to you, though mostly I find it best to stay with what the speaker is sharing.

In order to acknowledge their experience and what they have shared, you can reflect back to them what you heard them say, for example “You felt very angry when that happened”. Such a reflection does a number of things, it shows that you are listening, that their feelings or expressions are valid and enables them to go into more depth around the issues. In focussing on the other person you may notice the subtleties of body language, tone of voice… etc., which can sometimes indicate more than their words and again if appropriate you can reflect back what you notice.

Don’t engage in a drama or exaggerate the situation, sometimes what is being shared may arise feelings in you, acknowledge these internally though put them aside you can always return to explore them yourself at a more appropriate time.

Become Comfortable With Silences

For many silences or gaps in conversation cause discomfort and they rush to fill the quietness with something. However allowing a silence lets the speaker know that you are there for them and ready to listen when they are ready to speak. Speaking in order to break a silence usually ends up in directing the speaker in a different direction, than what may have otherwise arose next. If you do feel to ask questions, do so for clarity and understanding. The facts or details usually don’t matter. If you do feel to ask questions try to keep them open ended, you could you phrases like “How was that for you?” to encourage more disclosure or as I mentioned earlier reflect back what you have just heard.

Acknowledge Pain

This is an excellent video relating to how to support a grieving friend and the principles offered could be used with other challenging situations, not only grief. The way to help someone feel better is to encourage them to be with their pain, to explore and accept it and then they may feel empowered to move through it.

 

“One of the easiest human acts is also the most healing. Listening to someone. Simply listening. Not advising or coaching, but silently and fully listening.”

~Margaret J. Wheatley

 

With loving gratitude for all those who have shown me how to listen well and for my continued learning. I wish you well with your listening explorations,

Fiona

 

~via WakeUp-World.com

LIVE BOLD & BLOOM: “12 Of The Most Important Values To Live By”

What values are important to a life well-lived?

What do you want to be known for? What qualities do you admire in others and work to cultivate in yourself?

And how do those qualities reflect your core beliefs?

Your life values are those that, once you identify them, help you with decision-making and provide the building blocks for your character — specifically the one you want to have.

For example, if one of your top value in life is courage, you’ll likely seek out new challenges so you can act in spite of the fear that comes when you’re faced with the possibility of failure or rejection.

And if forgiveness has recently become one of your values to live by, you’ll want to remind yourself of your new commitment when you’re about to spend time with someone who has hurt you in the past.

But what is the point of identifying your values, and how do they contribute to your growth and happiness?

To answer this question, we’re exploring 12 of the most important values in life and showing how they influence everything you do.

But before we do that, it makes sense to explain what values are in the first place.

What Are Values in Life?

Values are about what you consider important to the life you want to live. They inform your priorities and, when practiced consistently, form the character you want to have.

They’re rooted in your core beliefs about what makes for a life well-lived and about the behavior you want to model for others (including children if you have them).

Shared values are the basis for a common code – a value-based compass – that speeds up decision-making and unites those who share that code.

By expressing those values, the common code articulates different aspects of the shared mission and becomes the key motivator for those who share it.

You can take each of the following examples of values in life to create a code or motto that motivates you to practice that value every day, so it will become second nature when it’s most needed.

12 Most Important Values To Life By

 

1. Courage

Courage is about doing what you believe needs to be done — not in the absence of fear but in spite of it.

You might feel disinclined to offer a genuine apology out of fear that the other will reject it, but courage will help you apologize anyway, because it’s the right thing to do, out of respect for the one you hurt or offended. Whether they accept your apology or not is their business.

Courage requires a step outside of your comfort zone. If you have no fear, you don’t need courage, but when something you know you have to do makes you feel sick inside, courage is what makes you do that thing anyway.

Courage code: “I do what needs to be done, even if fear comes along for the ride.”

2. Kindness

Kindness is about treating others the way you want to be treated.

It’s more than just holding your tongue when you’re tempted to say something unkind; kindness looks for ways to make life better for others. It takes delight in lifting others up and reminding them they’re not alone, invisible, or insignificant.

Kindness and compassion are closely related; the latter involves the readiness to see a situation from someone else’s perspective and to give them the benefit of the doubt. It also takes into consideration what the other person has gone through and chooses to respond with kindness rather than anger or vengefulness.

Both demonstrate at least a subliminal appreciation for the connectedness of all living beings; when you show kindness and compassion to others, you benefit (at least) as much as they do.

Kindness to yourself is also important, and it’s the basis for self-care. Don’t forget to be as kind to yourself as you want others to be.

Schedule time each day for reasonable and thoughtful self-care, and practice mindfulness to be fully present for it. In practicing kindness to yourself, you also make yourself better able to render kindness to others.

Kindness code: “I treat others as I want to be treated — with thoughtfulness, patience, and respect.”

3. Patience

When someone is pushing your buttons, taking your time or attention away from something you want to finish, or making your life harder in some way, you practice patience by putting yourself in the others’ shoes, trying to see the situation from their perspective, and responding with kindness and respect.

No one wants to be treated like an inconvenience or a burden, and sometimes your priorities have to change to make room for something (or someone) more important or more likely to help you grow.

Patience code: “No matter how I feel when someone interrupts me or gets in my way, I always treat them with the same patience I hope for from others when necessity compels me to interrupt them or get in their way.”

4. Integrity

Integrity is about acting and speaking in accordance with your beliefs.

If you say one thing but do the opposite, witnesses to this contradiction aren’t likely to recognize you as a person of integrity. They’re more likely to accuse you of hypocrisy.

Though you may not be fully conscious of the disagreement between your words and actions, if you believe one thing but your actions profess a contradictory belief, you might feel a growing unease and unhappiness with the way you’re acting.

It doesn’t feel right. And you’re faced with a choice: either change your belief, or change your actions.

Integrity code: “What I believe is made clear by what I say and do.”

5. Gratitude / Appreciation

When gratitude is a core belief, you make time for it every day. You prioritize both feeling gratitude and expressing it — in your thoughts, in the words you speak or write, and in your attitude and actions.

You might create the habit of writing a daily gratitude list. And if you recognize the importance of emotion to the fullest experience of gratitude, you’ll likewise place a high value on a daily mindfulness practice.

Showing appreciation to others for their words and actions is also essential to making this a core value. Just as you appreciate it when others thank you for a job well done, for a thoughtful gift, or for rendering the help they needed, others appreciate that recognition too.

And far too often, we act as though others must already know how much we appreciate them. Don’t assume that they do; make sure of it.

Gratitude code: “In the morning, throughout the day, and in the evening, I feel and express gratitude for the good things in my life. And I make sure everyone who has done something good for me knows I appreciate them for it.”

6. Forgiveness

Forgiveness is about letting go of anger and resentment toward those who have hurt or offended you.

You’re not saying what they did was okay or not a big deal; you’re acknowledging that what they did was hurtful but choosing to forgive them in order to be free of the anger and resentment (toward them) that are making you miserable.

In forgiving them, you take back your power and choose happiness and peace of soul for yourself, even if the one who hurt you has never shown the slightest hint of remorse.

Everyone has a capacity for forgiveness — just as everyone has the capacity to hurt others with their words and actions — but not everyone has cultivated a habit of forgiveness.

We learn to be more forgiving by forgiving more. If you write morning pages, add a short list of people you forgive, adding what you forgive them for and something you appreciate about each person.

Forgiveness code: “I forgive those who have hurt me, because I know I’ve made mistakes and hurt people, too, and I want to be free of this anger and resentment. I choose freedom, and I choose to genuinely want (and work for) the good of those who’ve hurt me.”

7. Love

Love sees the good in everyone, and it wants good things for them. You may not always know what’s best for someone else, but if you love them, you want their ultimate happiness, and you want to see them grow.

You recognize that no one reaches adulthood with their character fixed and unchangeable; we’re all a work in progress. Things your 20-year-old self would say might appall your 40-year-old self. It’s part of being human if you’re a human that continues to grow.

Did someone you love do terrible things in their 20’s or 30’s — things they would never do now (in their mid-40’s)?

Forgive them for not knowing better before they learned whatever stopped them from doing those terrible things. And forgive yourself for not knowing that human beings are all capable of terrible things — just as we’re also capable of growth.

When you love someone, you don’t base that love on the kind of person they were ten or twenty years ago, or on the person, you hope they become or that you wish they were. Your love tells them, “You are enough — just as you are today.”

You recognize that their beliefs and behavior may change as they grow, but since your love doesn’t depend on what they believe or on whether you agree on everything, your love doesn’t lessen with time and with the challenges those changes bring.

Love code: “I love with both passion and understanding; real love is wide awake.”

8. Growth

If growth is one of your core values, you look for opportunities to grow as a person and to help others grow, too.

You take the time to identify your values and your overall mission, so you can live in accordance with it and become more and more the person you have to be in order to fulfill your mission.

You know that growth isn’t a destination but a process, and you want to enjoy that process and help others to enjoy their own.

You might take an interest in coaching or in group growth opportunities, where members support and encourage each other. You recognize true and wholehearted collaboration as an asset and a growth facilitator, and you prioritize growth over comfort and security.

Real growth might mean shaking things up at home or at work, but the more committed you are to your growth and to that of those you care about, the less you mind rocking the boat.

Growth code: “Every day, I’m growing more into the person I want to be.”

9. Listening

If active listening is a core value for you, you value others’ input and invest time and energy in learning how to see things from their perspectives.

So, it makes sense that when someone wants to tell you something, you give them your full attention and thoughtfully consider their words.

Whereas before you felt tense with the expectation of having to defend your beliefs against an unfriendly viewpoint, you’ve learned (through practice) to listen with genuine openness rather than an ego-centric fear of being proven wrong.

You recognize that you don’t know everything, and you don’t see even familiar things from every angle, so you appreciate it when others share their perspectives. And your body language as well as your feedback shows them you’re listening and that you care about what they have to say.

Listening code: “I listen to others with my full attention, so I can learn from them and show thoughtful consideration for their ideas.”

10. Respect

If you want to be known for treating all human (or living) beings with respect, you probably base that respect on something more fundamental than someone’s rank or social status.

Otherwise, why would you consider it a priority to treat all humans with equal respect — regardless of their age, income, or background?

Or why would you put more energy into making sure the least exalted among you is treated with respect than into making sure others treat you with the same consideration.

It doesn’t mean you don’t consider yourself equally worthy of respect, but you find it easy to put yourself in other people’s shoes, so in making sure they feel respected, you feel more respected, too.

Respect code: “I treat all living beings with the same respect with which I like to be treated.”

11. Self-Giving

Another word for self-giving is sacrifice, but self-giving has a more positive connotation. Essentially, you’re giving of yourself — your time, your attention, your energy, your treasure, your abilities — to help or enrich another.

Real love doesn’t hesitate to give of itself until it hurts, knowing that the momentary pain is nothing compared to the benefit won by that self-giving.

The word “selfless” implies that someone has given so much of themselves, they’ve reserved nothing for their own use or enjoyment, but in giving yourself — if you give out of love — your joy is in what that gift brings to others.

Self-giving can be overdone but only when the motive is pride (or insecurity) rather than love.

Self-giving code: “I give of myself to others not only to connect with them but to acknowledge our connectedness. What I give to them, I also receive.”

12. Vision

You may be used to talking about vision in the context of a specific person’s “vision for the future,” but the larger sense of vision is not something that you own or that comes from you; it comes through you and inspires you and others.

Because the larger vision isn’t confined to your ego, the power of that vision is free to attract, illuminate, and flow through you.

Your vision is connected to one that is infinite and uncontainable — you do not exist to serve yourself at the expense of others; you exist to cooperate with others in the creation of a community that benefits all living creatures.

Your personal vision — what you see as your response to the larger vision — informs your personal mission and the process by which you live out that mission.

It’s not about the lifestyle you want or the things you’ll have when you’re “successful.” It has more to do with allowing yourself to be led by the greater vision through your personal links to it — your intuition and inner wisdom.

Vision code: “I live according to a vision guided by my inner wisdom and judgment.”

Now, it’s your turn.

What are your values? And what will you do today to put one (or more) of them into practice?

One small action today makes more of a difference than you probably realize.

Think of each small action as a seed you plant that, as long as you nurture it along the way, grows into a healthy tree with roots and branches, shedding seeds of its own.

Your values are the life in every seed you plant. Choose the best values, and make them part of your blueprint for personal growth.

And may your courage and passion for growth influence everything you do today.

 

~via LiveBoldandBloom.com

ARIA BELLA: “Why You Need Meditation”

“The birds chattering, the distant sound of cars. Feeling the sun or breeze on my face, really helping to anchor me in my body as I take in those sensations. Not only does it bring your stress levels down, it allows your body to go into its optimum level for relaxation and healing.”

~Aria Bella

 

Meditation is good for the soul, for the whole body and your mind. Go indulge today!

If you want an all-out activity that is going to soothe every single part of you and your senses — go meditate!!  It doesn’t have to be long, hard or full on.  Meditation comes in all shapes and sizes — you just have to find the ones that fit.

A really easy meditation to do is mindfulness — this can be done anywhere — making dinner, washing the dishes, hanging the clothes out.  All it asks you to do is be fully present in the moment, focusing on what you are doing, listening to the sounds around you and just being in that moment.

If you struggle with mind chatter, then guided meditation or ones where you need to chant may work for you as it helps to keep those natters to the background.  I personally love going outside and focussing on the sounds around me.

The birds chattering, the distant sound of cars.  Feeling the sun or breeze on my face, really helping to anchor me in my body as I take in those sensations.  Not only does it bring your stress levels down, it allows your body to go into its optimum level for relaxation and healing.  It gives your mind permission to take a break — although your mind will still have thoughts, so do not think you are doing it wrong just because it is still carrying on, it is its job.

Just allow them to flow without focussing on them.  It brings your soul to the fore as well.  So it is really the best all round exercise that you can possibly do for your wellbeing.  Even if you think you are not a meditator — and my hand is up on this one.  Keep at it and give yourself a few minutes every day, increasing if you can to get some of that deep AH into your day.

Your heart, body, soul and mind will thank you!

“I allow myself to meditate for the best of me”

Till next time… keep walking your spiritual path xx

 

 

~via Aria-Bella Rises @ YellowWolfEnlightenment.wordpress.com

ELIZABETH RENTER: “7 Ways To Better Listen To Your Intuition”

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Have you ever been in a situation where your “gut feeling” told you one thing, but your rational mind said another?  If you went with your brain rather than your intuition, there’s a good chance you ended up regretting your decision.  Your intuition is the subconscious leader that many people fail to give proper respect to.  But learning to listen to this internal compass could help you make better decisions and live a more fulfilling life.

It’s unconscious reasoning, the guidance that compels you to turn left when all signs may be pointing right.  It’s often the whisper inside that can lead you to the best results possible, if you will just learn to let go and give it a chance.  Intuition is commonly associated with New Age mysticism or a metaphysical way of thinking, but it doesn’t have to be so.  Our intuition was here long before anyone even gave a word to it, and it will be here long after other fad words expire.

Warm up to the idea that you don’t have to control everything.  Life is going to happen whether you overthink it or not.  Relax.”

Whether it’s deciding which job to take, which direction to turn when you’re lost, or how to handle a conflict in your family, intuition sometimes knows better than the rational mind.  The problem is that many of us have buried that little voice so deeply within, we have a hard time hearing or feeling where it is guiding us.

The good news is that your intuition is still there, you merely have to learn to hear it again.

To better listen to your intuition, try:

1.  Meditation:  Spend time in silence, simply listening.

2.  Commune with nature:  Aim to get at least sometime outside every single day.

3.  Creativity:  Tap into your internal artist by drawing, writing, painting, or making music.

4.  Learn to listen:  In general, listen to friends, families, silence, and yourself.

5.  Be body conscious:  Learn to appreciate the little signs and signals from your body, when it tells you it’s tired, joyful, in need of love, or getting sick.

6.  Let go:  Warm up to the idea that you don’t have to control everything.  Life is going to happen whether you overthink it or not.  Relax.

7.  Stay positive:  Being in a good mood boosts participant’s abilities to make intuitive calls in a word game.  So smile!

Working on becoming more intuitive requires you to adopt healthier habits and a healthier mindset.  These are things that are good for your mental, emotional, and physical wellbeing, no matter your end goal.  And if cultivated regularly, they could lend themselves to better decision making and more happiness overall.

 

 

~adapted via NaturalSociety.com

EARTH DRUM COUNCIL: “Guidelines for Participating in a Drum Circle”

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A drum circle is a community cooperating together to make something greater than the sum of its parts.  That’s why there’s more to a good drum circle than expert drumming.  In music, as with all forms of communication, the silence between the notes is as important as the notes themselves, and listening is as important as voicing.

If you are a novice drummer, watch the skilled drummers.  If you cannot hear what they are doing, play more quietly.  Use fewer notes rather than play every beat.  Leave spaces in your playing so that other drummers will have space to play in.  Using fewer notes will help you keep up speed with the other drummers and dancers, and also allows you to be more creative.  It is all right to get lost.  If you do, stop playing for a while, listen for the basic pulse, and join in with it.  It is not necessary to play something entirely different from everybody else; try playing the same rhythm as other people at least part of the time.  Repetition is an important and integral part of drumming.  Use your eyes as well as your ears to understand what is happening.  Pay attention, look and listen while you play.

If you are an experienced or lead drummer, be responsible.  Listening is even more important when you are the glue holding the rhythm together.  Be aware of the energy of the group.  Add solos only when the existing rhythm is well established.  If you are starting a new rhythm, choose one that others can easily join.  Work with the whole group of drummers and dancers.  Playing with a well rehearsed group is easy.  Playing with a mixed crowd of novice and experienced drummers is more challenging, but it can bring out the best in everyone, and be a lot of fun.

Drums can be classified as having a tone which is low, middle, or high in range.  If you sit close to other people who have drums that have a similar tone and volume to yours, it will help give the rhythms focus and cut down on distractions.

Be aware that bells, claves and shakers cut through the sound of all the other instruments.  That is why they are the timekeepers and the key to most complex rhythms.  These are sometimes called the “guideline” instruments, and they should hold to a steady part rather than “jam”.  If you are a novice drummer, it is good to learn the basic bell and clave parts if you can follow and learn from someone more experienced.  Bells and claves can throw the whole group off if they are out of sync, so when in doubt go back to the basic pulse.

We are all teachers and learners.  Don’t hesitate to ask for help to figure out a rhythm, or to offer help to someone else.

It is customary to ask permission of a drum’s owner before playing it — but don’t be afraid to ask!  If you do not wish to have anyone else play your drum, please put it away or cover it when you are not using it.  If you borrow someone else’s drum, please observe the basics: remove rings before playing hand drums, and return the instrument to where you found it.

Please do not play melodic instruments like flutes and guitars at drum council.  They confine the rhythm instruments to the span of their melody, and can be very distracting.

Do, however, feel free to express yourself with your voice.  Chanting which blends with the rhythm can enhance the overall effect.

Most of all, have fun!  Drumming and dancing are wonderful forms of creative self expression, and the drum council is a great place for us to express ourselves together.

~via Shift.is