We watched the last of our Oscar movies before the announcement of the winners. Nineteen movies in total we have watched for our annual Oscar Challenge. We had pushed this particular film further down the list, moved it to another day and then another. Eventually we just had to watch it. There was no more time.
It is interesting that so often we leave to last the one movie that makes the biggest impression on us. We leave it because we don’t really want to watch it. The subject does not look compelling enough, or it seems like it is going to be hard work to watch (like All is Quiet on the Western Front which we had to watch in two pieces because it was so traumatising). Women Talking was one of these. And then we watched it.
Rising out of that profoundly moving experience we knew that it really, really should win Best Picture but it never ever would because its message just cuts too close to the Hollywood bone. A story of power and love. Power that excluded, lorded over, used, abused and violated the love that held on, nurtured and protected in the hope of a different result that never came. Never would unless those without the power listened to their truth, believed in the reason for their existence and took the steps to birth a new system.
Listening is easy, ins't it?
We think listening is easy. As long as we have an auditory faculty, we can listen, can’t we? What’s the big deal? It is a big deal. Bigger than we think. When we listen deeply, and when we are truly listened to, something profound happens. It’s a moment of conception when something larger than ourself occurs.
Teaching the module on listening this week reminded us of what a spectacular gift the simple act of giving one's whole attention and listening keenly can be.
“It made me feel free to talk,” said one participant.
“I could be vulnerable because I felt safe,” said another.
Listening well is a skill. Most of us are not very good at it. We think we are listening because we can hear the words coming out of the mouth of the person speaking, but often that’s all we are doing: hearing words while our minds are elsewhere making lists, or distracted by a notification or email. Or something else tugging us away.
“Mm, sorry, what did you say?”
A whole body process
Listening involves the whole body. Our eyes look for facial expression cues, and read lips over the dull noise that permeates the space we are in. There is never silence. There is always noise.
How we are positioned, towards or away from the speaker, helps or hinders our ability to listen. Leaning in or slouching back opens the listening channels or dulls them down.
What goes on inside us as we listen makes a difference. From the peripheral chattering in our minds to the feelings elicited by an empathetic connection or an emotional trigger, the distractions and subcutaneous messages all have an impact.
Listening to hear can deepen our connection with the earth and the environment
When we listen with connection we reach in beyond the topsoil of words being mouthed and touch the roots of desire, or fear, or long forgotten memories that suddenly arrive in unsolicited splendour or garish rags to remind us of something sacred and dear. Whatever it is: ancient pain, hidden hurt, flashes of spirit or the torment of loss, are all messages of healing, if we allow them into the air and give them space to breathe.
Connected, generative listening is hallowed work. Not only the listening we do with others, but the listening we do of ourselves. Listening to our bodies, our gut, our instincts. Listening to our “knowing” and trusting the message.
It’s our link to the universe, if only we can be still for a moment and hear. What messages will we receive? Messages of hope from something bigger than ourselves, reminding us of our worth and the reason for our existence. Because there is always a reason, we just lose track of it in the seeping entropy of our lives, in the clamour of chaos and collapse.
Become motionless for a moment. Just stop. Find that sliver of peace in the centre of the storm and connect. Listen. If you choose to remain on this planet. Listen. What can you hear?
Until next time,
Yours in feeling,
Chantal & Matthew
About the author
5th Place is a dynamic organization that's passionate about emotional fitness. We're the creators of Shape of Emotion, a revolutionary tool that's changing the way we understand and manage our emotions. But we're not just about theory - we're about practical, tangible change.
We offer Emotional Fitness Classes and courses that help individuals, from children to adults, build emotional resilience and well-being. For our younger audience, we've created the Vibarealm, a vibrant universe that encourages a healthier interaction with emotions.
Join us on this journey to emotional fitness and let's make the world a better place together.