Mindful listening

Movie week on the Fiction Therapist continues with Shall We Dance.

You often know the answer to your problems, but sometimes you need someone to listen while you work out the solution. Sometimes you need a witness. Other times, you need to wtiness.

There is a scene that has always touched me in the movie Shall We Dance? A man whose marriage has ended asks, “Why do people get married?” His companion says, “Because we need a witness to our lives. You’re saying, ‘Your life will not go unnoticed because I will witness it.’”

There is a Buddhist recitation for invoking compassion, and it highlights the role of listening in caring for others. “We shall practice listening so attentively that we are able to hear what the other is saying—and also what is left unsaid. We know that by listening deeply we already alleviate a great deal of pain and suffering in the other.”

Therapists trained in absorptive listening say that it can, by itself, catalyze healing. There are types of therapy in which the therapist does not say anything, letting the wisdom emerge from clients as they listen to themselves talk.

Jan Chozen Bays. How to Train a Wild Elephant.

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