Walmart has a sale on weighted blankets. We’ve heard and discussed them. They are comforting—one-sided wombs, kinda. They were recommended during the height of the pandemic. Ten pounds. Got one. Haven’t decided. Ten pounds! The blue comforter may prove to be comforting, I think it is reassuring as I’m waiting for Carole to be bring my warm milk. I reacted to today’s challenges with anxiety. I wanted my blankie.
After thrashing about to find something funny about it, I can see how in fact, it could give a feeling of being embraced.
Award-winning writer, Karen Mains, is writing a new book about listening. She has directed 200 plus “Listening Groups.” Three or four people meet every couple of weeks. The format looks something like this: She invited people from her list of friends. These strangers to each other gather to listen. Karen welcomes and invites them to sit in silence. She gives these directions: One person talks at a time. Fifteen to twenty minutes. No questions, no comments, no advice—listening only. The person finishes, followed again by silence. Then the listeners are allowed to ask questions in reference to what they’ve heard. Silence follows and then another person speaks and the others listen.
David and Karen Mains have a friend from Chattanooga who studies the brain. He told them the brain responds when a person feels they have been heard, listened to and understood. In their podcast, Karen says she cannot repeat all the neurological words, but the brain of the person, who experiences being heard, responds with a “happy dance.” There is physical activity by the brain indicating pleasure.
After the meeting, Ms. Mains asks participants to think through each season of their lives and write the name of the person who “heard” them—really listened and understood. “They got you.”
There is something extraordinary to feel that you’ve been heard. Pastor David Mains predictably named a band teacher. Karen said she cannot remember a time when she was not listened to by someone who cared what she thought and understood. Perhaps not understanding the intricate details, but understanding why she would think those thoughts and how they would be beneficial to herself and others.
And you? Who “got” you when you were five? Ten? Fifteen? Now?
I wonder if the Apostle was hinting at an emotional/mental weighted blanket when he talked about the Armor of God. A grown-up mobile blankie that translates into security and stability? (Ephesians 6:10-18).
After a seminar, a lady asked us to forgive her for not entering into the discussion—most of all, for not offering any suggestions, ideas and opinions. She told us when she was precocious as a pre-schooler. She enjoyed adult conversations. One evening her parents had guests. She was sent to bed. She needed a drink and walked through the meeting room and stayed long enough to ask a question or offer a point of view. He mother put her in a closet for being impudent. She told us she spend many hours, thereafter, in that closet. She learned to keep her opinions and ideas to herself. (This story has a productive ending!)
Many therapists I read and hear say, “We have not yet seen the damage done to youth during the Pandemic lock down.” Isolation has the capacity to make the brain do whatever the opposite of the happy dance is. Trying to live life from behind a mask does not automatically build confidence or self-assurance.
Did you come up with names? A name?
A lady said to her granddaughter, “Come sit with me. Let’s talk.” The child said, “I love the sound in your voice when you say that.”
An acquaintance replies to my question, “How’re you doing?” with “Livin’ the dream.” I’m not sure if she is telling me all she wants me to know or she is being cynical. I do not have her permission to ask more questions. Within your scope of influence working hard to “hear” someone is an aggressive act to build strength and confidence in them. How would you like for that to be your legacy? I was a weighted blanket. Even better—I help those close to me feel heard—I get them.
© 2021 D. Dean Benton
For the David and Karen Mains podcast: “Before We Go” https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/tell-me-i-want-to-hear-i-want-to-understand-before/id1483224036?i=1000515129056