Celtic OrthoPraxis: ‘Deep Listening’ Or ‘What I’ve Learned In The Last Two Days’.


The last couple of days have been an emotional roller-coaster ride, and have been somewhat of a jolt to my life and lifestyle. With the passing-on of a good friend, to an emergency ambulance call, yesterday, and a seven hour visit to hospital with an ill, close family member, whilst tests were done (and everything is okay, but), it’s been a time of listening intently to others, taking time to ‘be’ with them, and giving them encouragement.

It’s also been a time when others have ministered to me – because, that’s what it is. Ministry. Over the last few days I have been touched by the prayers, good-thoughts, ‘directed-energy’, well-wishes sent, and rituals conducted by Christians, Druids, Pagans, Light-Workers and others. All, in their own way have buoyed up my spirit, and whose efforts have been greatly appreciated by me. I am all the richer because of these loving people, who listened and responded. Grace be to you.

‘The task now is to slow down enough, and be present enough to enter each moment  that calls’. Seven Thousand Ways To Listen, Mark Nepo

I’ve read various differing theologies on the internet, over the years and umpteen books, about what to say when someone needs you, really needs you. In some cases I’ve ignored the advice, because people who are ailing don’t want theology, don’t need a four-point sermon or talk, and don’t want as easy answer to a complex issue which may have no easy answer, or maybe have no discernable answer at all! They want me! They want you. Your time, your being with them, your soul-to-soul contact, and sometimes that doesnt even have to include words. Just being there is sufficient.

But, being there and listening is the answer. It connotes something. It may not be easy to do – real listening. We live in a world that likes to measure outcomes, and not to do so, may mean….well, that nothing has been accomplished. But, deep listening is needed, vital, and does have unmeasured, and immeasurable outcomes.

‘You can practice deep listening in order to relieve the suffering in us, and in the other  person. That kind of listening is described as compassionate listening. You listen only for  the purpose of relieving suffering in the other person.’ Thich Nhat Hanh

Listening with the mind, generally, then, is a surface level understanding and response. The kind where, when we’re not so well, someone might say, ‘Yes, I know what you mean’, to you. And, inwardly you’re thinking, ‘You can’t possibly understand, because you’re not me!’. It’s well-meaning, and a start. But, it only goes so far.

Listening with the heart, generally, then, is a more honest approach and a deeper approach. The kind where, when we’re not well, someone might say, ‘Yes, I’m trying to understand, but….’. Then, you feel a closeness, a warmth, and some benefit.

Listening with the spirit, is the closest, most loving, and the most beneficial approach of these three, I believe. When we’re ill, someone might say, ‘I’m here….’, and say little else, or they may say nothing at all, but take your hand and look you in the eye, and be with you in the silence. And, then you know, you really know that you have been inwardly touched – a soul to soul closeness. And, this is the most beneficial of all.

‘Deep Listening is listening in every possible way to everything possible to hear no  matter what you are doing. Such intense listening includes the sounds of daily life, of  nature, or one’s own thoughts as well as musical sounds. Deep Listening represents a  heightened state of awareness and connects to all that there is.’ Pauline Oliveros

Listening – and I’m also writing to myself to put it into some form, what has happened to me over the last two days, as much as to anyone else –  isn’t just using our ears. It’s about ‘tuning’ into what is happening around us, to people around us, to what is really happening at a deeper level – perhaps best described as peaking at ‘what is happening beyond the veil’, that which is invisible to our eyes, inaudible to our ears, but is oh-so real. So real is deep listening, it is beyond words. What do you think?


4 thoughts on “Celtic OrthoPraxis: ‘Deep Listening’ Or ‘What I’ve Learned In The Last Two Days’.

  1. I’ve been on both sides. Honestly, sometimes, I really only need someone to listen to me. Really listen and not judge or try to fix anything. On the other side, I have listened to people without judgment and found that people really seemed to need that. Thank you for writing this, it is something that at times, I think needs to be shouted from the rooftops.


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