Being Seen & Heard: The Power of Listening

Giving someone your full attention is a great first step for creating deep connection and trust.

Movement can be very personal matter depending on the practice and the practitioner. This poses a unique challenge when interacting with people in a class environment. How does one both listen to the group and pay attention to individual experience? A movement teacher’s top priority should be to ensure that those we work with feel seen and heard. Otherwise, one runs the risk of talking at or performing for the students in the room. Would you choose to attend a class like that? More importantly…

Is this the type of class you want to lead?

One of the most profound tools for making sure someone feels seen is the (not always so) simple act of listening. It’s easy to fall into the trap of connecting with someone else’s experience by centering on your own. A well-intentioned hug can change the world. A poorly-timed one may cut someone off having a chance to express themself in full. Not everyone needs advice when they share, which means you don’t always need to have the answer.

Heavy stuff, right? Great news: it doesn’t have to be!

Like so many other transformative realizations, the secret is knowing where to look…or listen, as the case may be. Teachers don’t often receive verbal feedback while class is in session and it’s quite easy to lose track while in the flow. Learning to hold space for others begins with confidently exploring your own.

Here are a list of questions that guide self-inquiry outside the classroom to help you be more present when it’s time to step in front of one:

  • Are you fully present and free of distractions while you teach? Show up rested, fed, grounded so you are able to interact from a fully present and centered space.
  • Are you REALLY seeing bodies in the room and teaching to what you see? Take the time to receive non-verbal feedback from students as they move. If your plan for class doesn’t work for those in the room, being able modify on the fly and offer options for all in the room. This can lead to students feeling extremely seen. If you are recording a class or teaching online, try visualizing the wide range of students taking the class. You can also offer options for others even if you might not need them in your own practice.
  • How does it feel when someone doesn’t follow your instructions? The ability to honor someone else’s knowledge of their own experience is a powerful tool for all teachers to explore. Just because someone isn’t doing exactly what you said doesn’t mean they aren’t listening to their own needs. Allowing space for dialog before and after class is a great way to connect with the group… especially when not everyone seems synchronized.
  • Does the music you play or stories you tell create space or fill it? Silence is golden, less is more. The best way to give people an opportunity to create their own practice is by simply giving them enough space to do just that.

What comes up for you when you answer these questions?
Share your thoughts below!

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