Attending, listening Yoga-style

“The art of listening is the marriage of ear and space.” – Remski interpretation of Patanjali’s sutra 3.41

In my Theory and Practice Course for Social Work, we are learning the art of interviewing. Step one involves achieving a compassionate and empowering balance between attending and reflecting. Here is an ancient yogic way to develop the super power of deep listening by being mindful of our tendency towards “automatic self-referral” as explained by Matthew Remski,

Internal space is also utilized to broaden the gap between “your story” and “my story”. This space is most commonly disrupted by communication habits that fail to nurture the gap of otherness. For instance, if one friend begins to tell another friend of her marriage problems, the second friend can begin to “hold space” for the first by simply reflecting the feelings she hears. This allows the first objective of communication — being heard — to be fulfilled. But if the second friend begins to “false-empathize” with the first by immediately saying, “Oh I know what you mean: let me tell you what my partner did”, she has blocked the space of otherness through a pattern that Miles Sherts (2009) calls “automatic self-referral”. The first friend will not feel heard, and her feelings will become more isolated and compressed, a combination that invites suppression.

Remski, Matthew. Threads of Yoga: A Remix of Patanjali-s Sutra-s, with Commentary and Reverie (p. 180). BookBaby. Kindle Edition.

I’m still working on this super power. Maybe you are too.

Happy listening to “the gap of otherness,”



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