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b2ap3_thumbnail_793px-Johann_Heinrich_Wilhelm_Tischbein_-_Dance_of_the_Fauns_and_the_Meneads_-_WGA22716.jpgListening is more than you being silent when other people talk. It is about giving what is in front of you your complete attention. That might be a person, or it might be a fur friend. It might be a tree, or a plant, or a river. Listening allows the voice of the other to sink into us and become part of who we are.

And that can change who we are.

We don’t have allow that change. Its optional. We can hold so tightly to our identity that we only change those exact things that we wish to, maintaining our own perfect vision of crystallized perfection. We can hold deeply to the strength of our own opinions, of our vision of others, and who we are in the world, and how the world should be.

Or we can melt a little. Because that crystallized vision is a fortress of solitude.

Humans are social animals. Even introverts need to be with other humans. We [introverts] still have the same brain wiring that calls for physical affection and social status as all other humans.* Listening brings us closer: closer to human people, closer to furry people, closer to our gods, and closer to our environment. When we sit in our own silence, some of our ego, or who we think we are, dissolves, melting away like mist. This can be frightening because it feels like a loss. Sometimes, our vision of our selves, that rigid fortress, is what has kept us safe and alive in a scary world. Too loose even part of it triggers our fight or flight response. To hear something that contradicts our image of ourselves can feel like death.

But it isn’t.

It is the exact opposite. And that is because crystallized perfection isn’t living. To live is to respond, to grow and to change with what is needed in any given moment. The deeper we listen, the better, the quicker, we can respond. Instead of arms being braced against a wall, our limbs flex, allowing life to lead us in a partner dance.

And the dance goes on whether or not we choose to join.

Listen. Melt a little and step onto the dance floor. Let life lead you in a little spin, or be daring and dip. Step past the fear and prepare to be intoxicated.

*People with personality disorders still have the wiring for status and affection, they just don’t care that you need it too.

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Selina Rifkin, L.M.T., M.S. is a graduate of Temple University and holds a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology. In 1998 she graduated from the Downeast School of Massage in Maine. She has published articles in Massage Therapy Journal, been a health columnist, and published The Referral Guide for Complementary Care, a book that describes 25 different healing modalities. In 2006 she completed her Masters program in Nutrition with a focus on traditional foods, and the work of Weston A. Price.
Currently she is the Executive Assistant to the Director of Cherry Hill Seminary, the first Pagan seminary to offer Master’s degrees.


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