I have had intentional, and sort of imposed upon me, silence a lot lately. My experience tonight was my first experience with true silent listening. Not reflective listening, but listening just to listen - without response, without questions, merely witness. There are certainly non-verbal cues in this, but there is no response necessary or even really allowed.
It's exhausting (especially as someone trained in reflective listening and in human services and journalism), but exhilarating at the same time. It is a relief not to have to have answers, and to put ego aside for a couple of hours.
It is in that silence that there is room for listening to the self as well. It is also good to be listened to, and to have silence after one speaks. It holds you.
In my silent meditations lately, one of my daughters has been rising to the forefront. I called her tonight on my way home and asked her if she was getting everything she needed. It was a profound experience. In my meditation time today, I re-experienced an interaction we had and saw it through the eyes of listening. I do try to have a daily practice of visualizing each member of my family each morning (including myself) and considering what they need from me on that day. But this was much stronger. This was a soul connection.
I called her, and asked her what she needed; I said I asked because I know she has trouble asking. She is a middle child. She sometimes falls through the cracks. And she can be challenging in ways. She said she could tell it was important to me (I barely made it through without bursting into tears, and did so after). I said that I felt I was not giving her what she needed and that's why she kept appearing during my meditation time. I told her what I saw in my re-enactment - of me holding her hands, and listening, and holding her. And that I wasn't angry at her - only at that which is hurting her, but it comes out wrong sometimes.
It was so cathartic, and without that silence that my spiritual path has offered me, I wouldn't have had the gift of this vision, and insight. Of letting my spirit tell me what I can do next time, and not just saying I'm sorry (as I try to do when I screw up), but to let her know that if I could do it over, I would, and what it would look like. I hope it was powerful for her, and not just weird ;).
It's hard work, this intentional path. It's waking up with a desire to respond (thank you Erin), and to make room for silence in which to hear how to do that.