The art of connection: how our heart is in every moment of meeting
Have you noticed how happiness affects your ability to communicate? ROSALIND PEARMAIN shares some ideas on how we connect with others through the different dimensions of the heart.
Every day we are involved in countless meetings with others – as we pass acquaintances or neighbors in the street, as we are with family or friends, as we work or play. If you pay attention, you can discover that your heart is always involved somehow in these encounters. There are three different dimensions of the heart that help us connect with each other. They are like aspects of most musical instruments:
The first is how we join in a song or a dance or music making – or even play with a baby. We have to catch the same note, the same intensity or shape of movement, the same phrasing. We tune in and join with the person. Sometimes we can feel this is absolutely perfect and in tune, and immediately both of us feel glad to be meeting. At difficult times, it is the opposite: we make an upbeat approach when they are flat or distracted or sad. Then our meeting can feel off-key and jarring. But if we wait, listen and feel a bit more, and keep trying to attune with our heart radar, then we are able to find a way of joining and connecting as we go along. It is just like tuning into a radio station.
Creating space – amplifying
The second goes a bit further than tuning. Our hearts need to be open, to receive the other person’s being, their feelings and experience. We drop our focus on our own preoccupations. We let go of our own needs being heard, and make as big a space as possible to accompany the person in front of us. Here we are using the infinite space of the heart to care for others, to hold them, to love them. We can expand this beautiful quality of receiving and of compassion to really give attention and love to the person. It is as if we literally give them space to be, to exist. So they feel safer and more at home.
Resonating and connecting
The third is like a kind of sounding board in a musical instrument. When we receive the other person’s news or feelings or concerns, we find a kind of resonance within us, we join them in sharing the experience, like humming. Our heart is moved and stirred. Then the other person feels felt by us and their hearts are touched too and it is as if it goes back and forth. Have you noticed that when you feel really well and happy, and your heart is open, all these steps of this arc of meeting flow into a beautiful movement towards others without effort? And, in contrast, when you are affected by negative thoughts or moods, do you feel a bit constricted and stuck? One more thought. If you put these three elements together, of opening, expanding and resonating, they are like the sacred sound of A-U-M.
Based on the book, The Heart of Listening: Attentional Qualities in Psychotherapy and Counseling, published by Sage Continuum.
Article by ROSALIND PEARMAIN
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