The Healing Art of Listening
How Wise Peer Creates Connection, Health, and Well Being
Wise Peer–The Healing Art of Listening is a truly 21st Century breakthrough that rests on our understanding that we are all equal, worthy, capable, and lovable, and have a basic right to mental and emotional health and personal power. Wise Peer is a peer-to-peer training in relational listening—what we call Wise Attention—of sharing and healing.
Wise Attention is a highly attentive form of listening that “leans in with empathy and without judgment or advice. It is healing because the listener strives to be genuine while holding the speaker in the highest regard. This genuineness and regard are crucial because they, more than anything else, allow the speaker to believe in their own value and in what is possible for them. Wise Attention leaves the power where it belongs: with the speaker!
It can take place one-on-one between a Wise Peer and a speaker of any sort, and in a peer-to-peer setting in which both participants are trained Wise Peers.
- The Wise Peer Seminar is a 12-week course in which you are trained as Wise Peer and learn and practice how to make strong connections, facilitate empowerment, and receive deep healing.* As a result, it is possible to form supportive peer partnerships that last a lifetime.
- Wise Peer is also a 12-week journey of self-discovery and transformation. It is a journey, shared with your fellow peer partner that can create a deep and lasting peer facilitation relationship.
* Wise Peer defines healing and being healed as being in the experience of wholeness.
How I came to teach this training
When I first came across a class called, Holistic Peer Counseling, I knew immediately I wanted to teach something like that. I knew from experience a certain type of loving attention had the power to heal unlike any other approach. I knew this because a decade before, when I seemed unable to overcome a heartbreak though I was very skilled and had many tools at my disposal, I was healed by such loving attention.
I had received the great blessing of meeting a new friend who naturally listened in such a way as I teach now: highly attentive, loving, without judgment or advice, only occasionally posing intuitive and astute questions that led me to see things I could not before (sometimes we can’t see the forest for the trees).
She let me shout out all the anger I had held inside because everyone I knew was tired of hearing about it. And when I was done with the anger she let me sob as loudly and for as long as I needed. To my surprise, within three months I regained my strength and sense of self.
Almost miraculously, the pain faded and I could truly reclaim my life. It was so extraordinary that for some time I held the slight fear my anguish would come back. It never did.
And so it was that, as soon as I was introduced to this particular technique of listening, I knew for a fact it worked and I had discovered a formal approach to teaching these wonderful skills to others, and of making the kind of healing and empowerment I had received available to others. My teacher’s only stipulation was that I assimilate the information, leave out what didn’t resonate with me, add what my own gifts called for and create my own class–eventually leading to the birth of Wise Peer.
How a session works
In a customary peer-to-peer session–once you are fully trained–you and a fellow Wise Peer take turns, spending approximately 10-60 minutes (there is no switching until the end, each gets a full turn) exploring anything of your choice that has been agreed upon at the beginning of the session by both of you. During the exploration, one of you is always the listener and the other the speaker. In each session, you follow a protocol that over several decades has been proven to be effective.
In a on-on-one setting, as a Wise Peer, you can bring Wise Attention that makes a difference such that it will help the speaker discover, express and define things they will find informative, helpful, healing, and even transformational.
The Wise Peer As Speaker
In the speaker’s role, you have the extraordinary opportunity to say and express* whatever is in your heart and mind. You will be heard by your peer who, like you, has been trained to do so with exquisite care and attention. They are trained to continue to see your innate wisdom and wholeness no matter what you share, making sharing inherently safe and dignified.
* There is so much we don’t say because we need to manage how others perceive us. Not having to do so when in a peer session is one of the most healing and transforming experiences you can have.
The Wise Peer As Listener
In the listener’s role, it is your privilege to listen with Wise Attention* and bring to bear the appropriate facilitation tool(s) and technique(s) you have learned and practiced during the 12 weeks of training.
* You will be taught specific tools and practices that allow you to “hold space” for the speaker with ease and without being drained or drawn in unduly.
Everything you do and are is designed to maintain an “energetic container”* for the speaker in which they can feel safe and free to be vulnerable enough to share their thoughts and feelings without fear of being judged, shamed, shut down, met with indifference, or told how to “fix it.”
* The energetic container is built via a behavioral protocol that creates a physically and emotionally safe environment.
Everything you do is in service of facilitating your peer partner’s inner wisdom and remembering who he or she really is: a part of the great web of life.
Sacred Space and Completion Period
Each session is bracketed by the creation of sacred space at the beginning of your session and the completion period at the end in which specific tools are used to assess the session and design a response to what has been experienced in session. In that segment, and if so desired, the person in the role of the Wise Peer will use tools (which both have learned) to help the speaker ease out of the emotional state they entered during session so they can move safely into the rest of their day or evening.
Being witnessed in this way is uniquely healing and transforming. Witnessing like this is a deeply gratifying service to another human being, liberating the facilitator from the compulsion to “handle things” and making it possible to do something remarkable: be present.
Each session, whether in the Wise Peer or speaker’s role, is experienced as healing, as whole-making. In other words, as a reminder of your innate wholeness and deep inner wisdom.
If this sounds complex, difficult, or overly serious, it isn’t. Understanding grows organically and naturally. You train as a Wise Peer in an inspiring and humor-filled 12-week training among peers you likely will grow to love and cherish.
What it Is And Is Not
Wise Peer sessions are not a gabfest or an hour of sympathetic listening. They are rigorously structured facilitative sessions designed to maximize effectiveness, facilitate breakthroughs and transformation, and create the experience of healing and empowerment.
“I am still meeting weekly with my first peer facilitator. I’m lucky because that’s why nothing ever has a chance to build up and fester. I’ve got a sounding-board at all times. I am never ‘on my own,’ which is the most corrosive and unhealthy, yet all too modern, condition. Continued Wise Peer support is for mental and emotional health what brushing my teeth is for my mouth, an ongoing program that insures a whole and healthy me.” ~Janet
Wise Attention is not advice.* It is not counseling. It is not a chance to “unburden” yourself. Wise Peer teaches you to become a highly skilled transformational listener and facilitator. Wise Peer trains you to become an effective receiver of Wise Attention, as well as intuitive and intelligent facilitation with many tools that allow you to facilitate insights, breakthroughs and, if desired, catharsis while maintaining a balance of power that prevents the unhealthful power differential that can be encountered in some types of therapy.
* Wise Peer teaches that you have all the answers within you. Your WisePeer facilitator always remembers that. This gives you the freedom to explore the depths of your being, and of your past and present, without fear of being thought foolish, weak, or worse. And when it is your turn, you can do the same for the other person, holding the space for their wholeness and inner wisdom.
Wise Peer teaches specific tools…
…that let you hold space effortlessly for anything your peer partner may share in session.
This specialized grounding process is a fantastic tool in any stressful situation and useful for anyone whose job it is to listen, such as in the healing arts,* in sales, and in management.
* As most nurses, body workers and therapists know, healing work can be extremely exhausting. The grounding, as taught in Wise Peer, can make a huge difference in keeping your fresh and strong.
Wise Peer teaches specific techniques…
…with which to create a safe, loving, and empowering container.
You are taught how to hold space effectively and to give Wise Attention.
Wise Peer teaches specific tools for the role of listener…
…with which to facilitate the emergence of the speaker’s inner wisdom, such as
- Hearing the subtext
- Reading the body
- Reading the face
- Creating emotional safety
- Keeping emotions from spinning out of control
- Guidance away from unhealthy repetition that would, unchecked, deepen the trauma
- Guiding tools that reach the heard-to-connect with parts of the self
- Guiding tools that expand perspective
Wise Peer provides specific tools for the role of speaker that allow you to:
- Discover what informs you and frames your reality on the most basic level
- Meet inner pain and become calm
- Use directed love as a healing tool
- Recognize and understand your patterns of your repeat behaviors
- Discover your secret beliefs that shape your feelings and actions
- Create new and supportive behavioral patterns, using current neuroscientific understanding
Over the course of 12 weeks, you will learn Wise Attention and support tools that are healing, insightful, deeply supportive, and cathartic. To become a certified Wise Peers requires completion of the class and a subsequent 9-month practicum.*
* Students can complete the 20 hours on their own time table, as long as the period is no shorter than 20 weeks (1 weekly session) and no longer than 9 months. Students can choose with whom to have these sessions and they don’t have to take place with trained Wise Peer partners.
The Wise Peer Credo
You already have complete inner wisdom.
All the answers are within you.
You are already whole, wise, and divine.
The support that helps us best is mutual. It is not found in a relationship of unequals in which the person who knows guides the other who doesn’t. We are most nurtured and empowered in relationships of equality in which we see in others, and they see in us, the divine beings we already are. In such relationships, we help facilitate each other’s ongoing emergence. One of the psychological and scientific hallmarks of the 21st Century is that we now know that what we bring to the table changes the conversation. We know facilitation of each other’s potential far outperforms even the best advice. We live our lives in community with each other. The better the quality of our attention to each other and to ourselves, the more we enhance our communities.
To attend the class, please go to Pre-Registration to pre-register.
Put the name, Wise Peer Seminar, into the subject line.
In the email body, please give all your contact info: name, email, phone, address.
Also in the email, briefly explain why you would like to take the Wise Peer training.
Once ten students are pre-registered I will send out a community scheduler for you to pick the evening of the week that works best for you. I will, then, select the evening that works best for the majority of participants. Once that has been decided, another scheduler will be sent out to determine the 12-week class schedule. Every effort is made to schedule the training dates as closely together as possible.
Each of the 12 classes meets from 6:45 pm until 9:45 pm
The tuition is $1095.
One trade or scholarship is available per course.Trade consists of a number of hours equal to the program’s 36 hrs.
A poem about listing by Leo Buscaglia
When I ask you to listen to me
and you start giving me advice,
you have not done what I asked.
When I ask you to listen to me
and you begin to tell me why I shouldn’t feel that way,
you are trampling on my feelings.
When I ask you to listen to me
and you feel you have to do something
to solve my problem,
you have failed me, strange as that may seem.
All I ask is that you listen.
Don’t talk or do – just hear me.
Advice is cheap – 20 cents will get you both
Dear Abby and Billy Graham in the same newspaper.
And I can do for myself; I am not helpless.
Maybe discouraged and faltering, but not helpless.
When you do something for me that I can
and need to do for myself,
you contribute to my fear and inadequacy.
But when you accept as a simple fact
that I feel what I feel, no matter how irrational,
then I can stop trying to convince you
and get about this business of understanding
what’s behind this irrational feeling.
And when that’s clear, the answers are obvious
and I don’t need advice.
Irrational feelings make sense
when we understand what’s behind them.
Perhaps that’s why prayer works – sometimes –
for some people, because God is mute.
and he doesn’t give advice or try to fix things.
God just listens and lets you work it out for yourself.
So please listen, and just hear me.
And if you want to talk,
wait a minute for your turn,
and I will listen to you.