Intention: The intention of this exercise is simply to listen deeply, allow others to listen deeply to YOU, and to notice your experience.
Materials: none; just an open-minded and curious friend or two or three.
Find a comfortable place to sit as a group (or a pair). Share the instructions with your partner(s) before beginning.
Now, in a form of improvisational “conversational jazz,” one of you begin by completing the following prompt:
“It isn’t that simple when ________.”
Now, one by one, each person listens deeply to the person before them and adds to the conversation by contributing a sentence or two to the unfolding story. Please allow plenty of space between participants to allow full and authentic expression. There is no rush. This becomes an additive creation based on mindfully listening to one another and building on what each person hears.
Go around the circle (or between you and your one partner) three times, or until you all agree that the response to the prompt is fully complete. No need to debate responses or discuss concepts. Simply listen, then add your own detail.
Once the group’s story is told, take some time to talk together about what was said. If you wish, each person can voice their interpretation of the experience using a single phrase or image.
In your journal, please write a few sentences about what it was like to listen deeply. What arose while waiting your turn, while actively listening, and while being listened to? What was your experience if the speaker seemed stuck (you or someone else), or when somebody spoke for a longer time than expected? Did anything change about the group after people were done listening to one another, rather than speaking over each other? Were you surprised by anything that happened during the exercise?