I know that I am listening well when I experience what I call the halo effect. It is a visual phenomenon that has happened often to me. After many repetitions I am now confident and not frightened by the intense level of intimacy that I feel when I am connected with another person and surrounded by this uniting halo. It is a sense that my personal boundaries and separation from others has dissolved to include the body of the person to whom I am listening. In that moment of deep listening, I see a beautiful golden aura that envelopes both of us. It is a sparkling ring of light around the two of us that makes me feel that we are no longer separate beings, but connected on every level. The space outside the halo looks like a blur, further accentuating my attention on the other person. Perhaps it is the loss of attention on my body and its little discomforts that so often get in the way of being fully present with another person. I have stopped wondering “how do I look?” or “do I have lettuce in my teeth?” I have stopped giving room to those distractions that take my focus from another person. The chatter in my mind ceases and my senses are sharper, keener, as though my body were at once one big ear, one big eye, one highly tuned radar of intuition.
This phenomenon is a type of state-bound consciousness because upon leaving this “place” and this way of being it is common that I am not able to recall the specifics of what was said, only that it was shared and received at a very deep level. The other person was seen, heard, and acknowledged at a soul level. It is similar to waking from a profound dream state, unable to remember the details of the dream. It is an experience known as “state-bound consciousness”. If you can disengage from the struggle of remembering, you can trust that a level of healing occurred, and you both have been touched at a deep and profound level.
Listening is a mystical practice. Listening is a prayer. As a listener I must be still, open, and accepting. When I am receptive in the act of listening it is to allow the speaker to see themself clearly reflected in a still lake. The still water accurately mirrors the image presented. If there are ripples from the listener’s reaction or defensiveness, the image would be distorted and contorted. If there is anything less than full attention, the listener’s reaction has created its own agitation superimposed over the original sharing, and that is a disservice to the speaker. Real listening is being that still lake, reflecting the original. It requires a faith in the other person, believing that there is a divinity and a wealth of resources within that person. They do not need to be fixed or corrected or educated. The gift that is called for is listening. In the deep calm of the act of listening, people tell me they feel healed.