Monday, June 14, 2010

Listening Ever More Deeply

I just got back from an 8-day silent meditation retreat---a week with very few words. No voice mail, snail mail, e-mail, blogs, internet research, social networking of any kind. Letting go of all the relating I do on the horizontal (relationships) in order to focus on the vertical (from the depths of me to the depths of the universe---for me, the Christ).

What has all this to do with caregiving and geriatric care consulting?

The key to providing quality care is listening. Listening takes us beyond the complications into the complexity---the only place where anything real can be accomplished. The listening and the complexity have to match in intensity and dimension.

We all calibrate our listening instinctively---listen with half-an-ear to the radio in the background or our partner’s recitation about the day---all ears for the latest gossip or news about a loved one.

The conversations I’m having with people---aging, illness, dying---complexity to the power of 10. Periodically I need to deepen my ability to listen which means time in deep silence. The silence of bone marrow. The silence between words.

I read once (apologies to the author whose name I cannot remember) that listening in silence is like waiting for the water in a stirred-up muddy pond to settle. The newly stilled water is clear and mirroring. All those pesky complications keep things stirred up---muddy the waters.

Maybe one of our major contributions as consultants is listening the client(s) into their own clarity? I get the sense that complications can be scary and exhausting while complexity can be inspiring and energizing.

Gotta love those depths!

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