Brother Curtis Almquist of the Society of St. John the Evangelist will teach the art of listening at the invitation of the St. Petersburg Bar Association this week..
Besides lawyers, Almquist, who has been a monk for 25 years, also works with students, psychiatrists, psychologists, business professionals, teachers and clergy.
The self-described 1970s radical worked in international development and was a parish priest before joining the small Episcopal order, which has a monastery near Harvard Square in Cambridge, Mass., and another, Emery House, in West Newbury, Mass.
He answered some questions about deep listening:
How has your vocation prepared you to teach others about deep listening?
Monks have sometimes been called “professional listeners.” Monks live under a vow of “obedience,” which comes from the Latin, obaudire, to listen deeply. The monastic “default” is silence, not because there’s nothing to say, but because there’s so much to be heard if we listen deeply. Listening is a learnable skill….
…Is there a spiritual element to being a good listener?
Live in the “now.” Be really present to life — not the life you once had, or think you could or should have, but life on life’s terms, now.
Do our ubiquitous technological devices hinder good listening? Is there a solution?
There’s the seduction to be “virtually present” in all kinds of places and platforms and thereby miss being really present in the moment. The presumed ability to “multitask” is greatly overrated; meanwhile you miss the real deal of life. Doing one thing at a time — at least some of the time — will help defrag your soul. Presuming that you must be available to others 24/7 is an invitation to get lost. Putting boundaries around your availability to your own self and your availability to others is crucial. You’re worth it!