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Silence in listening

Michaela's picture

I was really intrigued this past week by Jen Rajchel's visit, especially the silent exercise that she led us in, "Tattoo Parlor". It was a really cool way to learn more about Sasha, and to think about what kind of visual image would best represent her, and so I enjoyed it from a playful (ha) perspective. But I also think that it correlates more fully to my ideal of silence--one in which you spend time actively listening to another person, to music, to the world around you--and not so much focused just on not talking. I don't mean to say that I think the silences that we have started (or ended, in some cases) our class with have not been valuable, just that I appreciate that we are moving beyond the notion that everyone must refrain from speaking for it to be a "real" silent activity. 

My word this week from our exercise at the Cannery was "listen". I really value it when others actively listen to me, and I am working on becoming the best listener that I can be, with my friends, family, the larger world (BMC and otherwise), and even myself, and listening to my own needs. I really enjoyed the teaching exercise that my group planned in Jody's class on Thursday, encouraging people to partner up and listen silently while another person told a story about their adolescence. These kinds of exercises can help us all become better listeners, and truly engage in what our partner is saying, similar to in the Tattoo Parlor game. 

I guess after a lot of thought and emotion and learning in this class, I am coming back to an idea that I had (in a less fully-formed version) at the beginning of the semester--that silence is a practice of actively listening. I've appreciated that this week, the notion of listening has cropped up for me in all three courses, making me want to reflect on it more.