Updated: Sep 8, 2020
On my website there is a description of the one to one sessions that I offer, one that is both beautiful and meaningful to me, yet it doesn't simply lay out the discreet elements of life, study and experience that have synthesised to form my particular and distinct version of Deep Listening. Instead it tells you more about what to expect from a session and what you may receive from it.
How something has come about is really interesting to me though, so I have given some thought to the journey that has brought me to here and have put down some words that elaborate and expand upon how I came to work in the specific way that I do. I hope you enjoy reading them.
A couple of experiences of being deeply listened to when young stand out in my memory. Times where I was really heard in my experience without being wronged, shamed or corrected in any way.
Those meetings with kindness, acceptance and care really made their mark, and before I was 20, I was actively seeking out ways to give and receive a quality of attention that left me and the other person feeling more relaxed, safe and open.
Core qualities & Skills
Initially I gravitated towards approaches that focussed on Carl Rogers core qualities of empathy, congruence and unconditional positive regard, and that practiced them through simple techniques of reflection, paraphrasing and summarising.
This stage of learning was revolutionary in terms of creating conditions of safety and respect, and it was the foundation upon which I set up several support services in the fields of mental health and addiction. Sadly it is still not uncommon to meet folk who have never had the experience of being really actively listened to without interruption, distraction or being 'fixed', and so this ingredient alone continues to offer a significant missing experience for many. In a Deep listening session these qualities and skills will support us to connect through verbal and non verbal means, help us to check that we are on the same page and ensure that what you need is what I can offer.
Nervous System Regulation
When I studied bodywork in Bristol, the nervous system element of the training taught me how to more consciously attend and attune to the others physiology, noting signs of system regulation or conversely dysregulation.
In my practice as a bodyworker I became aware of how tracking my own physiology could help me stay closer to those I was treating. Simple practices of softening around tensions as they arise, attuning to my own breathing as well as the clients and noting shifts in felt sense of energy and sensation. In my current practitioner training of Hakomi, attunement is a central part of the practice where together with the person being supported, we gently study the very subtle shifts and changes in behaviour that reveal much about what is missing and what is needed.
Similarly with Deep Listening sessions, we will purposefully stay slow and spacious so that more can come into awareness, including parts of ourselves that may typically be overridden by faster or louder behaviours. This slow and simple approach to welcoming all that is here, is great medicine for settling and stabilising a nervous system which in turn builds capacity for meeting and processing experiences that have been held in trauma.
Curiosity is a quality that feels essential in my practice of Deep Listening, and is the one that I am most enjoying cultivating because it challenges my patterning of a strongly analytical mind. Having said that, years ago a friend did name me 'She who asks big questions' because of the depth of questions that arise in me, so there is clearly an innate mixture of wondering and rational in me.
Curiosity brings light to the depth, allows for what might be or what wants to be as opposed to a presupposition of what should be, and creates a healthy partnership between the roles of practitioner and client that is based on mutual exploration rather than assumption or theory. I am finding that curiosity is a beautiful antidote to worry and shame, and encourages trust in a natural unfolding of experience and insight.
'I loved our session Jen. Your deep listening felt full of - and elicited in me - warmth, respect, trust
and embodied intelligence; it prompted a new frame on an issue I wanted to look at, and your gentle questing helped bring forward the resources I needed. I highly recommend your sessions.'
The Field of Presence
At the end of his life Carl Rogers said ‘“I am inclined to think that in my writing I have stressed too much on the three basic conditions (congruence, unconditional positive regard and emphatic understanding). Perhaps it is something around the edges of those conditions that is really the most important element of therapy – when myself is very clearly obviously present’’
Although I have been meditating pretty regularly for almost half my life, it wasn’t until about ten years ago that I experientially knew what presence was.
I had experienced a lot of presence from others and had also been very present to many,
but tangibly feeling myself as presence, within a wider field of presence was something that took time to become conscious of.
Initially for me, meditation involved a lot of striving, but thankfully (!), something radically changed and now it is more often than not, akin to resting back into the field of presence experiencing what is arising within it rather than being fully identified and trying to get away from it.
Being rooted in and as presence, is what I believe to be the most important ingredient of Deep Listening. The field of presence that underpins and flows through everything is the portal to the direct knowing of our interconnectedness, the invitation to our authentic embodiment and the most nourishing sustenance that is freely available to us at all times.
'The space Jenny held for me enabled me to feel so safe and loved that my issue was able to arise
and flow out of me right from the beginning of our session. I was a bit erratic in the telling of the tale and Jenny's astute focus enabled her to follow me even when I wasn't sure if I was making sense. There is just something SO powerful about being truly heard and understood, it's a very rich experience. I left the session feeling immensely complete, because all the scattered pieces within had the opportunity to come out and land. There's something about Jenny that makes you feel like you want to tell her all your secrets. I would highly recommend her work whenever clarity is needed'. Avanti Shivpuri
What I am in touch with now as I finish writing this is gratitude for all the other ingredients that have come on my path thus far; people, bodies of work, inspirational organisations, tough teachings, my own blindness at times and so much more that has all shaped the way that I listen and respond to myself and those around me. I am also feeling the invitation of humility as I reflect on how life has unfolded in this way.
Working with me
A Deep Listening session can include any of the above ingredients; some will include higher ratios of certain ones than others. All sessions will be grounded in deepening our connection to the field of Presence / Beingness that surrounds us to support regulation of the nervous system and a building of our capacity to gift space and allowing to all that is in our experience.
If you feel clear you would like to book a full 90 minute Deep Listening session with me , or if you would like to talk through your needs and explore if it feels right to have Deep Listening sessions you can do both of those here.
I also offer a weekly online (audio only) meditation circle called Deepening Into Being Together which is an invitation to deepen your practice of orientating towards the field of presence around you. If you would like to join please go here