A Listening Retreat

I never ever write in the middle of the day or on my lunch break.

But, I’ve been listening to a really great podcast and have had a lot of things going on in my life.  Anyways, the podcast, YogaGirl by Rachel Brathen was chatting about the importance of a community and have a support system.  When she hosts yoga retreats in part of the first evening practices, participants are paired with someone they don’t know to talk about a conflict or pain in their life.  These can range from family or childhood issues to trivial day-to-day dramas.  The hard part of the practice, however, is for the listener. They are supposed to listen without reaction.  So they are not to offer apologies or suggestions, but just listen. This creates a really strong community and connected atmosphere for the rest of the retreat.

I was thinking about how I would like to use this practice in my own life as a listener. And how Christ as well, calls us to release our pains and worries on Him, the ultimate listener.  How many times have you been releasing some worry or concern to have a friend or family member criticize or offer a suggestion that seems so far fetched from what you were even lamenting? Your reaction is hurt or anger. Did they even consider the reaction of what their words meant?

In my own walk, I am going to try and bring a better practice to become a better listener. To decipher the difference between a friend asking for advice and condolence, or someone just releasing their struggles.  I think when you’re able to become the listener without reaction, and I’m not talking about a stone-cold face, but as someone who listens without critique or suggestion, you’re able to create a stronger relationship with people. I think that is so essential and why is it so missed? Why do we offer suggestions and criticisms at the most inopportune times. Obviously, there is a time or place and parents may feel that it is their obligation, but I would like to encourage what I believe is a Christ-like approach as the listener.

“Come to me, all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28

On the other side as the speak-er not the listen-er. I have a lot of trouble with this. Not actually because I can’t release some problems on someone, but I know the second I do it can be met with negativity or criticism. That’s where I find writing so helpful. It really helps me just get everything out and organize my thoughts without pulling anyone down or to be picked at. I have drawers of journals starting from elementary school. It’s affected my writing style. I write my thoughts and want then as original to the initial spark that flickered across my brain.

So in conclusion, I want to encourage myself and readers to become better listeners.

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