Listening with the Heart Program
The path of social justice work is taking me to where I want to be – in the realm of the feminine spirit. Working with newly homeless women in The People’s House, which is a new organization connected with an interfaith organization, you can be sure that I will include the “Quiet Listening Circles” that you have in California through DreamWeather.
– Olympia, Washington
WOMEN AND HOMELESSNESS
As the founder of DreamWeather, I want to share how our work began with women in homelessness, and how it has grown.
In 2010, I felt drawn to working on a practical level with marginalized women. I initiated a program in a day-time shelter for newly homeless women experiencing the shock of the recession and who were facing homelessness and transition.
The first day I spoke to a room full of 45 women from the shelter. I realized in that moment, that there was a need to empower women in the deepest way, through reflecting to them their own sacred nature. This was a powerful realization, that this simple work of sitting in circles, listening, meditating, and sharing dreams, could be the catalyst for women to step into their lives with a new strength.
I did hear dreams, for initially I invited the women to share them. But mostly, what I heard was that the women living in shelters, or in their cars, didn’t sleep deeply because of the noise all around them. Remembering dreams was rare. While women did share a dream from time to time, it became clear that there was a different need. A deeper need that touched the heart.
As colleagues and friends joined me in facilitating the circles, the format of the circles began to shift. Certain feminine qualities such as
became the core of our work. We saw that in this feminine space of stillness, of listening, a powerful linking up takes place deep within the women. Fragmentation is left behind, while a deeper, more powerful sense of connection strengthens.
We learned how this works. How there is a deep need for connection at this time of so much fragmentation. We saw how the women lit up when they were able to touch a source of wonder, wisdom, peace, or joy, even for a brief time. It was as if the guiding light of the soul – which can so easily be covered over – was able to shine on the path in front of them.
And now, we continue with our Listening with the Heart program, and with mentoring others to inspire and empower this work to serve women in other communities, for all life.
- Encourage women to access a deep strength within themselves that is beyond trauma
- Call forth women’s innate wisdom and courage through sharing of and listening to stories of their lives – their losses as well as their treasures
- Foster a sense of connectedness to other women, diminishing feelings of isoloation
- Reduce anxiety and fear
- Restore focus, giving clarity and a sense of calm that can empower goals and bring heart into everyday actions.
A significant part of our work is in mentoring others who wish to foster groups or participate in serving women in their communities. Those whom we mentor as co-facilitators find great value in learning to sit in full presence with group members, to put aside judgments and ‘shoulds’, to respond in flow to what comes up in the group setting, and to hold a steady focus on the silence and love at the core of the heart. This work touches all — mentors and those being mentored, and is a powerful way that our work ripples out into the world.
If you feel drawn to establish a Listening with the Heart program in your community, please contact us. We offer a training program by Zoom or phone, with follow-up support. Our curriculum can be tailor made to suit the needs of your community.
Anne has written a book about her experiences at the Living Room, Finding Home: Restoring the Sacred to Life, stories of women in homelessness & transition. She is currently working with women in a safe-parking shelter near where she lives and writing a manual to help guide women who wish to establish the program within their own communities.