Doctor of Leadership in Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

Listening with Breath: In, Out, Back in, Back out

Written by: on April 20, 2023

I suffer as a light sleeper…it’s rough.  In my 20’s I worked as a Residence Hall Director at a University in Chicago for 4 years.  My bedroom was right above the front door of the hall, and I could hear everything…problem was that I didn’t always want to hear what was going on because it could require action from me…ugh.  Now that I am a mom, I relate to feeling the responsibility of listening, and listening when I don’t want to know!  I have been somewhat convicted by Julian Treasure’s book How to be Heard: Secrets for Powerful Speaking and Listening he hits hard with the danger of headphones.  I get through a night’s sleep by having consistent noise in my ear so I don’t wake at every moment I hear a noise.  “Delivering music at high volume deep into the ear for hours is a recipe for hearing damage”, [1] Ouch.  “In 1859, Florence Nightingale wrote: ‘Unnecessary noise is the cruelest absence of care that can be inflicted on sick or well.’”[2]

When reading Julian Treasure’s book, I expected it to be a public speaking book, which made me very interested to read this, but alas…it was not until the very end of the book that this was addressed.  I appreciate the amount of time the author spent on listening and listening consciously, because “the greater our island of knowledge, the greater the shore of ignorance”.[3]  If we are to be heard, we must first listen.  To be heard we must know who our audience is, what do they care about, where is their shore of ignorance?  All of this comes from truly listening.  Treasure listed quite a few acronyms to listen well.  I appreciate these, but honestly when reading his book, I found connection to breath which is the very action that brings us to the present moment and conscious listening.

BREATH IN…preparing to listen…

Inner Listening. Treasure goes into this detail as this being the negative inner self critic and why we listen to it.  We all have brokenness and patterns of thinking such as David Kahneman had in his book Thinking, Fast and Slow as Treasure quotes “The experiencing self does our living, experiencing everything in the moment” [4]. “The remembering self-summarizes all this experience, interprets it and assigns meaning: it also overstates peaks and valleys and endings in it’s version of our life experience.”[5]  Breathe in.  However, I believe fully that we all have an inner teacher who is worth listening to, Parker Palmer states when encouraged, the listeners can facilitate one to listen to this inner teacher by asking Open and Honest questions.  When done it can “be a revolutionary experience for someone whose cynical view of humanity had continually been reinforced by the people to whom she complained.”[6] By listening attentively, we can help others hear their own inner teacher.

BREATH OUT, asking good questions…

Outer Listening, “defined as ‘making meaning from sound’. As you filter, you also interpret and create meaning.”[7]  While listening, we must take in information and we simultaneously are processing what is being said, and interpreting, sometimes wrongly.  “You fight your superficiality, your shallowness, so as to try to come at people without unreal expectations…and yet you never fail to get them wrong,”[8] As Kathryn Shulz notices in her book Being Wrong: Adventures in the Margin of Error.  To listen consciously we must recognize our own inner biases as we listen to what others are saying.  Breath out.

BREATH IN, AGAIN..process and analyze communication but also your own bias…

Gathering more information, we start to listen communally.  Reading of Scripture, or maybe better yet, misreading, or selective reading of scripture is a common occurrence in the Christian circle.  We like to take bits and pieces and quote them to suit our own understanding.  The cure, I believe, to this individualization on scripture is Lectio Devina, which is listening to the words, listening to other read from their voice, hear a phrase, listen again, hear a word, listen to what others heard.  This communal way of reading scripture is a gift, especially if you are with a diverse group of people.  Treasure offers a variety of ways to listen creatively as well as communally as well in Chapter Four, such as “loving listening, listening to children, listening to music, listening to nature, etc.”[9].  I especially love that last one, listening to nature.  Have you ever been in the middle of nowhere and listen to the absolute silence?  Most beautiful sound in the world.

And finally Breathe out again…Speaking

One of my favorite quotes and I don’t know who said it originally is “nobody cares what you know until they know how much you care”.  All the breathing of listening can lend us to the place where we have earned the right to be heard and we come well prepared know what our audience knows and what they don’t know so that we can speak into that space….and be heard.  Chapter 6 gives us many tools and tricks to being a vocal master.  This is a chapter I will be coming back to.  In seminary I avoided a Pastoral Care degree because I did not want to take preaching…here I am now a decade or probably more (I don’t want to do that math), and I have preached my fair share of sermons and given a number of lectures in front of diverse groups.  If this is so, then perhaps by the end of my Doctorate I’ll be a comfortable if not completely competent writer.

[1] Treasure, Julian. How to Be Heard: Secrets for Powerful Speaking and Listening. (Coral Gables, Florida: Mango Publishing Group, 2017), 19.

[2] Julian Treasure, How to be Heard, 18.

[3] Jason Clark, weekly quote to Doctorate of Leadership students, 2023.

[4] Treasure, Julian. How to Be Heard: Secrets for Powerful Speaking and Listening. (Coral Gables, Florida: Mango Publishing Group, 2017), 118.

[5] Julian Treasure, How to be Heard, 119.

[6] Palmer, Parker J. A Hidden Wholeness: The Journey Toward an Undivided Life. (San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, 2004), 53.

[7] Treasure, Julian. How to Be Heard: Secrets for Powerful Speaking and Listening. (Coral Gables, Florida: Mango Publishing Group, 2017), 110.

[8] Schulz, Kathryn. Being Wrong: Adventures in the Margin of Error. (New York, NY: HarperCollins, 2010), 247.

[9] Julian Treasure, How to be Heard, ch 4.

About the Author


Jana Dluehosh

Jana serves as a Spiritual Care Supervisor for Signature Hospice in Portland, OR. She chairs the corporate Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging committee as well as presents and consults with chronically ill patients on addressing Quality of Life versus and alongside Medical treatment. She has trained as a World Religions and Enneagram Spiritual Director through an Anam Cara apprenticeship through the Sacred Art of Living center in Bend, OR. Jana utilizes a Celtic Spirituality approach toward life as a way to find common ground with diverse populations and faith traditions. She has mentored nursing students for several years at the University of Portland in a class called Theological Perspectives on Suffering and Death, and has taught in the Graduate Counseling program at Portland Seminary in the Trauma Certificate program on Grief.

6 responses to “Listening with Breath: In, Out, Back in, Back out”

  1. Travis Vaughn says:

    I was a residence hall assistant in college, and in my final year, I became an RA for where much of the football team lived. I never looked forward to room checks. I can’t imagine being a Residence Hall Director. Ha!

    Great post, Jana. You wrote, “This communal way of reading scripture is a gift, especially if you are with a diverse group of people. ” In what ways do you think this could be incorporated more in the life of a large church, systematically throughout the congregation? I agree with you 100%, that Lectio Devina is a great way to help people get beyond the common, western, individualistic way many in evangelicalism have approached scripture reading over the past century. I wonder how a congregation, perhaps that has a robust small group or discipleship ministry might embrace such a shift.

    • mm Jana Dluehosh says:

      Oh good old residence life! Nothing like it, right:).

      As far as Lectio Devina, I have been parts of services where this was the sermon. If I were the pastor, I would do a bit of teaching without leading what I wanted out them to get out of the chosen scripture. Maybe have 2 diverse voices reading from pulpit and ask congregation after first reading to speak up what stood out for them in a sentence or two. Important to advise church to place no judgement on their own observations or others. Then have the second voice read and ask for just a word that is speaking to them. I just LOVE this because we all read scripture in our own voice and our own observations. I love hearing what someone else heard especially when it was different from mine. I suppose this would only work with smaller congregations.

      Another idea is as a weekly sermon prep to meet with a group each week to do this on chosen text and pastor participates. What a great opportunity to hear from your congregation before you preach!

      Anyway, I appreciate your words.

  2. mm Kim Sanford says:

    I so appreciate your approach and your writing. You mentioned “an inner teacher who is worth listening to.” I love that idea. I’m curious how you transmit that to those you lead? How do you teach those around you, maybe even your family, to identify and listen to that inner teacher?

    • mm Jana Dluehosh says:

      I believe often when we are trained “listeners” we realize we are actually making judgements while we are listening. So it takes practice to really listen without thinking about what to say next. I find the best exercise, and it takes practice, a lot of practice, is to find a good open and honest question to ask to continue to help them do more of the talking. An open and honest question is a question that you can’t have any possible knowledge of what the answer will be. Most of us ask leading questions to get to the answer we think they are getting to. Does that make sense? We have insight on what we think they are trying to get to but we place our own agenda on it so to help someone get to their inner teacher we have to help them continue to talk through insightful but open questions. It’s a doozy, but that has been so powerful when done well because they realize they had their own solution all along, they just needed someone reflecting themselves back to themselves!

  3. mm Tim Clark says:

    Jana… you said “By listening attentively, we can help others hear their own inner teacher”

    So true. I’ve found that when others listen to me deeply and not seek to give quick answers, I hear myself better.

    I am challenged to learn to listen better, slower, breathe in and out, not speak… to be present to others so they can be present to themselves and to the Holy Spirit within them.

    Thanks for the reminder, and challenge.

  4. mm Jana Dluehosh says:

    Yes, the inner teacher… we all have it, but we have to stop and listen to ourselves….and harder yet, trust our selves. I have encountered many Christians who have been taught their whole lives to not trust themselves, we are wicked and sinners. However we fail to teach Christians that we are beloved, BELOVED creatures of God who said “are good”! God is not a force outside of ourselves but is deep within us…God’s fierce love for us is what is deep inside every human, God is our inner teacher and we deny God’s love when we don’t trust ourselves. Is that too harsh? Anyway, May your inner teacher speak to you Tim, this summer as we break from intense learning. May you have time and a spaciousness to listen to your inner teacher:)

Leave a Reply