Hearing and listening are two different things. Learning to listen really listen requires sacred practice.
The Sacred Art of Listening guides you through forty practices of deep listeningto our Source, to ourselves, and to each other.
Inspiring text and contemplative artwork combine to communicate the three essential qualities of deep listeningsilence, reflection and presence. They demonstrate that the key to healthy relationships and spiritual transformation can be as basic as practicing the art of listening.
You will learn how to:
- Speak clearly from the heart
- Communicate with courage and compassion
- Heighten your awareness and sensitivity to opportunities for deep listening
- Enhance your ability to listen to people with different belief systems
About the Author
Kay Lindahl, the founder of The Listening Center in Long Beach, California, is author of How Does God Listen? ; Practicing the Sacred Art of Listening: A Guide to Enrich Your Relationships and Kindle Your Spiritual Life and The Sacred Art of Listening: Forty Reflections for Cultivating a Spiritual Practice. She is coeditor of Women, Spirituality and Transformative Leadership: Where Grace Meets Power (all SkyLight Paths).
Kay Lindahl is available to speak on the following topics:
- The Sacred Art of Listening
- The Power of Listening
- The Transforming Nature of Listening
- The Lost Art of Listening
- Is Anybody Listening?
- The Importance of Listening for Health Care Professionals
Read an Excerpt
The Sacred Art of Listening
FORTY REFLECTIONS FOR CULTIVATING A SPIRITUAL PRACTICE
By Kay Lindahl
SKYLIGHT PATHS PUBLISHING Your Invitation
Copyright © 2002 Kay Lindahl.
All rights reserved.
My own first experiences with deep listening came about through the Alliance for Spiritual Community, a grassroots interfaith organization that I founded to promote mutual understanding and respect among people of diverse religious and cultural backgrounds. I learned that the key to reaching these goals was to create a space where we could practice the art of dialogue. After almost a decade of facilitating dialogue groups, I realized that the art of listening was the main skill that was missing for most participants. From that very real need I developed The Listening Center in California five years ago, at a time in my life when the connection between listening and the circle of life became clear to me in all its sacredness.
The Listening Center creates a place where people learn the sacred art that is listening. We lead workshops, retreats, and classes around the world in our efforts to provide men and women with an experience of the value and importance of deep listening. Each person becomes a center for listening in his or her life. Deep listening cultivates a spiritual practice. This book engages you in this process.
You are invited to use The Sacred Art of Listening to create more peace, harmony, and love in your life and in the world. The pace of life today leaveslittle room for reflection and listening. The promise of this book is that you can learn to listen from the essence of your being by taking a few minutes a day for quiet time with your authentic self.
The thoughts and practices that follow are designed to expand your awareness and broaden your concept of listening. You will notice that listening as a sacred art calls forth your being in new ways. One of the greatest gifts we can give each other is the gift of our undivided attentionbeing present. It takes time to slow down the conversation, to include silence and reflection as well as speaking and listening.
To receive the most benefit from these teachings, I recommend using the guidelines below. They will help provide a format for you to establish a routine as you read each of the forty short chapters:
Settle down in a quiet space.
Slowly read one reflection.
Gaze at the circle illustration for that reflection for a few minutes.
Allow your mind to consider what you see and read from different perspectives.
Notice where your heart leads you.
Stay in the silence for a few minutes.
Create a specific intention for improving your listening practice.
Express gratitude for your experience.
The circle illustrations that Amy Schnapper created for The Sacred Art of Listening are designed to help you see the deep wisdom that lies within your own heart. There is no right or wrong way to look at the art. Rather, it is intended to engage you visually while you look into your own heart. Allow the art, the words, and the teaching to move slowly into your heart while you discover levels of spirit and connection you may have never accessed before.
These reflections will introduce you to listening beyond words. The subtitle for each reflection is the practice at work. Each provides you with an opportunity to think about listening in a new way. Notice the many layers of deep listening. For example, the title of the first reflection is "Qualities of Deep Listening." The subtitle, or practice, is "Listening for essence." The desired result of this practice is to make time each day to reflect on what it is to listen for essence and to practice doing it. You will soon experience that listening is far more than hearing words.
Listening as a sacred art encompasses reflection, illustration, meditation, and practice. Observe which practices in these forty reflections speak the most directly to you. Take on some of those practices. Incorporate them into your daily life. Journal your experiences in the pages at the back of this book. Be prepared for miracles.
My prayer is that just a few minutes meditating with each reflection will lead you to a deeper relationship with your Source, with your soul, and with others.
The Circle of Life
The origin of The Sacred Art of Listening came out of a series of connected personal experiences. About five years ago, I was jolted into looking carefully at the choices I make about how I live my life. That year, on the third of May, my elder son and his wife had their first babya boy. What a joy it was to welcome Ryan into our family! While we were still in the glow of celebrating this new life, my mother was completing her life journey. We had a big party for her ninetieth birthday, two weeks before Ryan's birth. The gathering had been a joyous time, sharing memories of what life had been like for her, coming to this country as a young teenager. As we were all about to leave, she stood up and said, "There is something I would like to say." This was highly unusual. Not one to make speeches, she had always left that to my dad.
We all stopped and sat down to listen. Mother said, "I want to thank you all for coming. It's been a lovely party and I'll see you on the other side." We were stunned. Did she realize what she was saying, we wondered. And now we knowyes, she did. Ten days later she was admitted to the hospital, and she died on May 11. Her great-grandson Ryan was just eight days old.
Mother had become restless after a few days in the hospital. One day, she looked as though she wanted to get out of bed. "What do you want, Mom?" I asked.
"I need to get to the door," she said.
"What door?" I asked.
"The one over there." She pointed over my shoulder at a blank wall. I was puzzled; she finally said, "This isn't making any sense, is it?"
"Not a whole lot," I replied. "But you know, I think it will make all the sense in the world when you see what's on the other side of that door."
The cycle of life had never been more present for me. It's one thing to know that as human beings we are born, we live for a time, and then we dieand it's another to personally experience the beginning and end of life's cycle at virtually the same moment. The synchronicity of these birth and death events caused me to reflect deeply about my own life.
How often do we find ourselves saying, "Where has the time gone? My, how time flies. The older I get, the less time I seem to have. How quickly the days (weeks, months, years) pass by." Suddenly, this notion of time took on a whole new dimension for me. I began to see time not as a straight line from birth to death hut as a circle in which we each have a rolebut just for a moment. None of us knows how much time we have to live this life, or what part of the circle we are about to experience. But to be fully alive is to be present to life each moment. Like many people, I all too easily get caught living life in the past, the "I should haves"or in the future, the "someday I wills." And yet the only time we actually have, the only time we really experience, is the present.
The birth of my grandson and the death of my mother within days of each other made me aware of the value of simply being present. I spent a lot of time being with my mother in her final days. We didn't say much. Yet something wonderful happened in those moments. I wasn't thinking about the past or the future, only about the experience of "now" and how precious life was in those moments.
The reflections in this book all relate to timeto being present. They also relate to the circle of life in the context of the sacred art of listening. They are reflections from my journey and experiences I have had as I flow along the circle of life. They express my intention to listen deeply and completely, and to be fully present in the world around me. I hope they serve you in your journey.
We must learn to listen if there is to be peace in the world, particularly among religious traditions. Affirming the sacred art of listening is my response to this call for peace. Learning how to listen to and speak with each other are essential skills for creating relationships that lead to mutual respect, dialogue, understanding, and peace. As I explore a spiritual approach to listening, my understanding of what it actually means to listen continues to expand. Listening encompasses much more than words. Listening is a way of being in the world. These reflections speak from that voice.
Excerpted from The Sacred Art of Listening by Kay Lindahl. Copyright © 2002 by Kay Lindahl. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Table of Contents
Part One: The Beginning
Your Invitation 3The Circle of Life 6
Part Two: Practicing the Sacred Art of Listening
1. Qualities of Deep ListeningListening for essence 112. A Sacred ArtListening as spiritual awareness 143. Using SilenceListening to access your stillpoint 174. Learning from ExperienceListening for new possibilities 205. CommunionListening to communicate 236. RitualsListening for meaning 267. Dialogue or DiscussionListening for context 298. Seeking Common GroundListening to appreciate 329. Common ValuesListening for connection 3510. PresenceListening from your heart 3811. Conversations of the HeartListening for soul 4112. Creating Safe SpacesListening with love 4413. Self-ExpressionListening with humility 4714. Practicing PeaceListening to understand 5015. Creating HarmonyListening for integration 5316. Delving DeeperListening for insight 5617. Simple SharingListening for experiences 5918. Love in ActionListening as caring 6219. Hearing NuancesListening for each voice 6520. Slowing DownListening to reflect 6821. The Voice WithinListening for change 7122. AssumptionsListening for clarity 7423. Learning from PassionListening for vision 7724. Contemplative PrayerListening for guidance 8025. The Agenda-free ConversationListening with openness 8326. Cultural DifferencesListening without prejudice 8627. AttentionListening for perspective 8928. HospitalityListening as a gift 9229. FocusListening for the holy 9530. Engage FirstListening beyond appearances 9831. The Challenge of ChangeListening creatively 10132. RelationshipsListening for deeper connections 10433. The Gift of SolitudeListening to the silence 10734. Practicing ReflectionListening for the questions 11035. A Sacred Meeting PlaceListening through prayer 11336. Recognizing IntoleranceListening for your humanity 11637. PatienceListening with intention 11938. Harvest TimeListening with gratitude 12239. Being YourselfListening with authenticity 12540. Being CompleteListening beyond the past 128
Part Three: In Closing
Listening in Your World 133Principles of Dialogue 134How This Book Was Created 136How the Art Was Created 137Acknowledgments 138Source Notes 140
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Profound stuff here! Most of us are born with the gift to hear. However, how many of us properly apply the skill of listening? I don¿t know about you but, I didn¿t learn this stuff in school. At least not to the degree explored in this book. And I do feel that the book¿s contents are critical on many levels. Every aspect of our lives can be enhanced by improving this one skill. Let¿s talk reality here. In conversations with others, we formulate speculations and opinions on what they are saying before they even finish saying it sometimes finishing their sentences for them. Many times we are so busy trying to think of our refined reply (to make sure we look good or sound intelligent) that we really didn¿t comprehend what the other person was saying. Does any of this sound familiar? I know I have been guilty! This book reminded me of a great quote by one of my mentors Stephen R. Covey, ¿Seek first to understand and then to be understood.¿ Another key point that I wanted to share is that we live in such an information-crazed society where we simply cannot get enough information. Rarely do we slow down enough to smell the roses and reflect on what we just heard, or read, or saw... whatever the information vehicle. We just steamroll passed and look to gather more information. This book was a bit of a rude awakening for me in that it helped me understand that I need to slow down a bit, properly apply the power of listening, and improve my NOW. This is a small book and probably can be read in one sitting, however I highly recommend that you take your time to properly absorb and reflect on each chapter ¿ you¿ll be glad you did!
The Sacred Art of Listening has opened up an entire world in my life that I had been ignoring - being quiet & listening. I am so caught up in the rush and 'doing' of life that I am exhausted most of the time. Kay has written a series of stories & reflections about simply listening in your life. I have been missing alot. I make an effort to stop and listen now when I am feeling overwhelmed. I like reading a page before I go to sleep, it helps me to relax.