I posted a question on my FB writer’s page asking if people felt listened to.
One wise woman, the other girl in my elementary school class who protected me from being the only girl in our class of seven because the other five were boys, noted she thought that people could listen but also wanted time to tell their stories. The last time we met she reported working as a bartender so I imagine she listens to lots of stories; I’m glad she feels people listen to her. Another woman that I have known for years, though not quite as many as the first woman, noted that she often didn’t feel listened to; there was a hint of sadness in her words others did not pay attention when she spoke. I flashed on the comments many women made when I was a practicing psychotherapist: “The older I get, the more invisible I feel. People don’t seem to see me anymore.”
I asked the question on FB because I was thinking about writing this blog post on attention. I was thinking that it takes attention to listen to someone. While I was pondering the connection between listening and attention, I opened up my daily meditation email from Susan Piver at the Open Heart Project to find this perfect quote:
“Attention is the rarest and purest form of generosity.” Simone Weil*
Wow – I thought – I never fully realized that giving someone else attention would qualify as an act of generosity but that makes sense.
My anxiety makes it hard to listen at times. I find myself interrupting and asking questions like, but what about __________, not remembering that this is a time when NO one knows the answers to the questions that seem so pertinent when I’m anxious.
If I try to calm my own anxiety and look for a middle place in my mind where I’m not panicked, I’m not shutting down, then I’m using what I’ve learned in a decade of Freudian psychoanalysis. This is a difficult time for everyone. Perhaps if we offer the gift of attention through listening, someone will find momentary relief. And we will find the middle place, the place that Buddhist’s describe as being sharper than the razor’s edge.
How are you managing to care for yourself and others during this time of uncertainty? Does it make sense to you that the middle place is sharper than a razor’s edge?
Please share if you have thoughts that would help me and others. You can scroll down and leave a message in comment section.
CLUE for enhancing your one wild and precious life: Pick a day and resolve to listen to each person you interact with. Really listen. See how you feel afterwards. Let me know.
IMAGE: The Guardian listens.
*To sign up for the Open Heart Project or get more information go to SusanPiver.com