This morning, a dear friend of mine asked me if I wanted to attend a workshop at our local library titled Mindful Listening and Speaking. The workshop was scheduled to run from 2-4 pm (Did I mention that today is the last Sunday of my vacation week and that the weather outside is sunny and in the 50s…in February?). But as many of you know, my OLW for 2020 is pause, and I’m really trying to work on pausing and improving my listening (at work and at home). So…..I said yes.
The workshop began with a simple activity. We were seated in groups of six. The task was as follows:
Pass the rock from person to person.
When you get the rock, pause. Really pause. Give yourself time. Feel the rock. Think. Be mindful. (This is SO hard for me!)
Then state your name.
Share how the rock feels in your hands.
State how you are feeling right now. Be precise and lean with your language.
Pass the rock to the next person.
There is to be no reaction to what people say. No judgement. No, “I feel the same way!” No, “I know exactly how you feel.”
This activity sounded so simple. It wasn’t. I listened as people paused and shared. The pausing made me feel so awkward (I think the person with the rock felt awkward too.). Some people closed their eyes. Some looked down. Some paused briefly. Others for longer periods of time. Then the rock was passed to me. I paused. I looked down at my sneakers. I waited. I tried to feel the rock. The seconds felt like hours, days maybe. Then I shared my name, how the rock felt to me (a little sweaty), and how I was feeling (extremely vulnerable). I passed the rock to the next person.
Pausing was hard. So hard. So awkward. But I have to say, it gave me some sense of power. It gave me a sense of being grounded and focused. A feeling that what I was about to say and what others were saying was important and deserved some time. It helped me to slow things down and really listen (to others and to myself).
I’m so glad that I gave up a few hours on a sunny day in February to pause and learn and listen.