I was a pretty obnoxious kid in high school. Purple hair, lots of piercings, prone to making trouble. I remember having a debate with my English teacher about Shakespeare, challenging her on the meaning behind certain passages we were studying. I just didn’t understand where she was getting all this meaning from. It seemed like he was saying one thing, but she was interpreting all these deep life lessons.
Twenty years later I know she was right and I was a smart ass.
This is the difference between knowledge and being. Knowledge is reading something. Being is one’s capacity to know what is being said.
People often think that listening is a process that occurs between the ears. But listening is a movement towards deeper awareness. Much like rereading Shakespeare many years later – the words haven’t changed, but the capacity to understand the meaning behind them has. This is growth in being.
It’s difficult to define being because it is like an empty container. It’s primary attribute is the ability to contain whatever is inside it. And it’s very easy to confuse what’s inside it with what it is.
The process of putting something inside it, is listening.
To listen you have to hold space. The term itself speaks to this concept of being as an empty container – holding space. When we think we already know something or someone we project our definitions and expectations. We become closed to this quality of being as en empty container, because we are too full for new understanding. We’re like a teenager who “knows” Shakespeare.
Holding space is, of course, a practice. There is no magic pill to become a good listener. But the good news is that every interaction is an opportunity to practice. Today’s video explores the power and potential of holding space.