Harmony. What a word. It evokes so much: ease, strength, joy, pleasure, collaboration, devotion…
By definition, harmony is about the relationship between and among people, places or things. It allows – demands, even – a way of relating that includes and transcends individuality and gives form and depth to a shared experience or meaning that, in turn, inspires the expression of the individual parts.
… and round and round in an expanding virtuous circle.
No wonder harmony feels good. Some people say it’s like being in flow or alignment or love.
And, who doesn’t want more of that?
Relationships that lack harmony are often painful and rarely generative. This can range from feeling out of synch to full-on conflict. Episodic relationship disharmony is to be expected, desirable even. In many instances, it opens doors to deeper awareness, understanding and connection – key components of any healthy relationship.
What do we do if harmony is consistently missing in one or more of our relationships?
We start by getting attuned. Attunement is a fancy way to describe really paying attention to someone or something. When we are attuning, we are listening deeply to what is being expressed – through word, body and energy – in order to understand and connect meaningfully.
Sounds straight forward and yet so much of how we move through our days is about going from conversation to conversation, listening for specific types of information that support us in completing tasks or affirming our own perspective. This kind of functional listening helps us get things done, but it usually doesn’t go very far in supporting meaningful connection with others.
Deep listening calls for a sustained presence from the listener. It means opening up and focussing on the speaker, instead of just waiting for them to stop talking so that we can make our point or defend ourselves.
What kind of listener are you?
Start by consulting your resident expert: your body. During an upcoming conversation that feels important, bring your awareness to what is happening in your body? Sense your feet on the ground, the set of your jaw, the quality of your breathing. Are you feeling open and relaxed or tense and rushed? Are you ‘all in’ or do you have one foot out the door (literally or figuratively)?
If your body scan reveals that your attention is distracted, bring yourself more directly into the moment by taking a long, deep inhale. Exhale slowly. The person you are listening to won’t even notice. Drop your shoulders, loosen your jaw and feel your own presence. Then, compassionately redirect your energy on the speaker.
Voila! Instant attunement.
Do this as often as you can for a week. Notice what it feels like when your body is conveying interest and curiosity and when it isn’t. Look at what happens to the quality of your connections and to the felt sense of harmony when you are more highly attuned to yourself.
Next week, we will explore more fully the positive implications and practice of ‘listening to understand’.
Until then, feel free to leave a comment. I would love to know what you find.