When was the last time you sat down to talk and some one listened? Really listened? Not offered advice or sympathy or judgement, nothing but affirmation that you were being heard? It’s a rare occurrence in our western world – the space to share and listen is so often crowded out by the need to fix and move on to the next problem.
It’s one of the reasons that the practice of a sharing circle or talking circle is so meaningful to me. Now I know that there are as many different traditions about these as there are people who attend them. Some include smudging, some the sharing of the sacred pipe, others might hold a feather or a stick. But the key element that each and every one shares is this:
One person speaks,
everyone else listens.
Each sharing circle is different, but that one constant holds true. Just last night I had the amazing opportunity to sit in a circle with 7 other people and listen to each one share what was on their heart. Some told of sorrow and heartbreak, others of excitement with a new opportunity. But as each one spoke, everyone else’s attention was just on them, no where else. Everyone just sat, occasionally moaning in understanding or sympathy, eyes on the speaker, absorbing, hearing. A rare and special moment carved out of regular time to hear and be heard.
Sometimes people ask me why I focus and think about my Aboriginal traditions, why I place so much value on them. It’s because they allow me to make space in the noise of western life, even just for a little while, to just speak… and just listen… and share.