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Pausing, Listening, Reflecting

Updated: Jan 26

These infinitely valuable skills, as mentioned in this previous blog, I continue to deepen and refine. These are skills to transform lives.

What does it mean to pause, listen, and reflect, and how do you actually do it?

To Pause is to take some time of stillness in order to be more present with something. To be more present with something is to really appreciate it - give it space and attention. To let it sink in more deeply. To let judgements, activation, trigger or confusion settle and move through, so that deeper connection and awareness can emerge. To rest with something and savor it.

I was dining with a friend last night and had the impulse to pause his story about preserving roadkill because I wanted to appreciate something profound about it. Now in this moment, I imagine my father's voice scoffing at such a thing, and I ask you to pause any judgement about preserving roadkill. This person has the skill, will, and knowledge to recognize when an animal is safe to consume or not and to process it in order to feed many friends for months, preventing other animals to needlessly be killed for the same purpose and using a being that would otherwise go to waste on the side of the road.

As I feel deep sorrow every time I see a dead animal on the road, I feel hope and awe when I meet people like this. What was notable when I heard his story was the kindness and reverence for life that he held, which are values I hold dear as well, and I got a sense of his heart and soul. There was something worth savoring here. The pause I sought was a moment to deepen with this person, a moment of intimacy. The more we rest in these moments, as present as we can be, the more capacity we build to go deeper in intimacy.

On the other hand, another purpose for a pause is when there is activation, trigger or confusion. In these moments, we may spin out and get more disregulated. We can get stuck in our heads with stories of what is happening or what did happen in the past and miss the details of what's actually important here in the moment.

A pause in this instance can help us re-center, ground, breath, and regulate. We can soften our tunnel vision and see the bigger picture. We can realize what's important to us, and actually feel our bodies and emotions.

We often repeat the same stories over and over, but when we have space and presence to pause and notice what the emotions and sensations are with the story, something different happens. What's stuck is allowed to move.

A Pause is an opportunity to welcome all of you into the picture - your body, emotions, soul and mind. An opportunity to check in and see - what is here right now? To deepen within yourself and with another.

Closely intertwined here is the skill of Listening.

To listen isn't just to hear another person's words and make sense of them. Listening involves the whole being - listening with the ears, body, mind, soul, eyes, energy, emotions. Listening is receiving information, from outside and from within.

Externally I can listen to your words, tone of voice, gestures, and energy. My body can listen to your body and sense what you're feeling. I can listen to myself - my thoughts, emotions, feelings, sensations, energy.

Listening is a great, expansive skill to forever hone.

We may not be able to hear something if we have a big wound around it in ourselves. I first learned this concept in my Biodynamic Craniosacral training. We would struggle to comprehend information as we were learning about anatomy that was off-kilter within us. One who's experienced sexual trauma or violation may feel dissociated or activated when learning about genital or pelvic anatomy if they haven't healed and integrated that wound.

So there are times when we may not have the capacity to listen, or times when we think we're listening but not really taking it in. A pause can be helpful when we realize this.

And Reflecting - another piece of the transformation puzzle.

Reflecting is best done with a sense of neutrality, to be the clearest mirror possible. Reflecting can be done verbally or non-verbally, and is a way of saying, "this is what I'm seeing, hearing, or experiencing from you." The person receiving a reflection may understand themselves more clearly. They can feel seen and heard, which is a core need for a lot of us.

Just today I read an article from Polarity teacher Om Rupani that states: women need to be seen in their existence, and men need a reason to exist. He suggests that we see women as they are, and acknowledge men for what they've done. Regardless of polarity and gender, in both cases, he's suggesting we offer versions of listening and reflecting to those we love.

Reflecting can take many forms. Here are a few that may show up in verbal conversations:

  • This is what I heard you say, word for word

  • This is what I heard you say, in my own words

  • This is what I think you meant by what you said

  • This is what comes up for me when you say that

  • I notice this about you as you spoke

  • I noticed these feelings in me as I was listening

  • I notice this pattern in what you're saying

Some of these reflections may be deeply supportive, and some may be triggering or challenging to hear. Some may feel clear, and some may hold judgement or shadow. Reflecting is an art to be refined and one that can bring us closer together if done well.

Reflecting can also come non-verbally. I do this when I'm practicing Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapy and intuitive bodywork. I reflect on the energetic, non-verbal level what I'm noticing, and your system responds. When I'm holding a centered, grounded, neutral presence and we're in right relationship so that we're both relaxed and clear in what's showing up, you would likely respond to this energetic witnessing by relaxing more deeply. Something in you feels acknowledged and held. Your system can unwind, heal or change in it's own timing when it's reflected clearly.

Is there a situation in your life where you'd like to ask for a pause?

Can you think of an instance when you can listen more fully?

Is there something you'd like to offer or receive reflection on?

If you'd like support in these areas, reach out for bodywork and coaching.

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