Paired Sharing with God

One of the simplest yet powerful tools we use at CLE is paired sharing*. This is an exercise where two or more people agree to purposefully and intentionally alternate between sharing and listening to one another. We ask people to use a timer and have a set period of time in which they share, beginning with rounds of two to three minutes each.  One person talks while their partner listens silently. The listeners suspend performing any of the normal activities associated with social and active listening. We ask them to avoid making empathic sounds and offering non-verbal gestures such as nodding, smiling, raising of the eyebrows, etc. When the speakers have completed their time to share, then the partners switch roles and the listeners becomes the sharers.

The speakers have the opportunity of having others listen to them without the fear of being interrupted or having the focus of attention taken off them. They have the chance to articulate what they think and how they feel without being influenced by the thoughts and cues of those who are listening to them.  They are able to get to know themselves in a whole new way.The speakers are encouraged to free associate, speaking to themselves as if no one was there listening to them. As counselors at CLE, we teach them to almost ramble or babble, following their feeling and urges instead of speaking as if they were writing a paper or giving a speech. The objective is for the speakers to express their thoughts and feelings without attempting to control or censor them.

The listeners are asked to listen in an unorthodox way. While listening, they are expected to hold the speaker in positive regard. This means that the listeners envision the speakers as whole and complete persons who are able to support themselves in getting what they want and need. Listeners are asked to make their own internal process the priority of their focus and attention. Listeners are to pay attention to what they are thinking and feeling while listening attentively to their partners. They are not expected to reflect back what they have heard their partners say.

This exercise has been life transforming for those who have made paired sharing part of their ongoing disciplines at CLE. We are finding it to be especially effective with couples, helping them to connect, see, and hear each other. We have also found paired sharing to be beneficial in our relationships with God. We actually have an assignment in our spiritual growth series where people are invited to do a three minutes (sharing) by three minute (listening) paired share with God once a day for thirty days.  This is proving to be a very challenging exercise which is deepening and strengthening peoples personal relationships with God.

Consider the opportunity to build your relationship with God through having a regular time of paired sharing. Consider it as a form of prayer or meditation designed to increase the openness and intimacy in your relationship with God.

* I am grateful to Bob Wright at the Wright Leadership Institute for introducing me to paired sharing.

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Published: 09.03.2011 / 03:47 PM

Category: Grappling with God,Relationships,Spiritual Growth

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