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Learning to Listen Deeply


In the Deep Study with Elesa Commerse, we are devoting a year of learning and practice to exploring what it means to turn the ordinary into the extraordinary. As part of this year-long course we are participating in a bold initiative created by Elesa called Willing to Listen. In order to be a volunteer for this project, you must be willing to learn and practice the skill of deep listening.

Deep listening requires that the listener be able to sit still and in a dignified posture, to be natural in facial expressions and body language, to give your complete and undivided attention without judgment, providing commentary, finishing someone else’s sentences, or providing feedback. It requires concentration and compassion. It requires practice.

I am fortunate to have a mother who is a deep listener. Her training came from the challenge of being severely hearing impaired most of her adult life. When we are together, we choose conditions that enable her to hear – we sit closely and look at each other. There is no background noise from the television. There are no cell phones (she does not have one). We don’t interrupt one another and we are comfortable with silence or a pause between thoughts. The experience is extraordinary and one that I find rarely in my day-to-day life except at Touching Earth.

At Touching Earth, by practicing deep listening, we find ordinariness rooted in the great mystery of the here and now. In the moment, that moment, we break down the walls that separate self and others and we listen with our whole being. This simple or seemingly ordinary act creates holy ground upon which we have extraordinary glimpses into the precious nature of human life. We serve others by holding a space of compassion as if our lives depended upon it. At Touching Earth we are willing to listen.


Posted by Ceily Levy, a long-time student of Elesa Commerse.
To contact Ceily, email
Posted May 5, 2013

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