Anne Waldon FRSA

Title: The Quiet Space: The Listening Project 

What if listening isn’t something you do, but something that happens when you stop doing and thinking, and just let yourself be… in that quiet place inside? When you’re there by yourself, you find calm, peace, and renewal. When you’re there with others, you let their worlds come to you. You receive them, letting them be what they are, present and available. This is the space where creativity is as natural as breathing, the space where new thoughts and ideas bloom all by themselves. It’s also the space of connection with ourselves and with others. The space where we don’t demand anything of anyone (including ourselves) and we have everything we need. This project is about reminding ourselves of this space – which everyone has access to by right of being human, but which modern life often overlooks. Our intention and hope are to find ways of reminding everyone interested in how nourishing and alive this space is, and how worthwhile it is to let ourselves spend time there. 

Location: Warwickshire, UK 

Creative Experience 

The Listening Project has its roots in the Listening workshops I run from time to time, which continually surprise me with their impact and the depth of feeling that people discover in themselves. I started simply to talk to people about the experience of Deep Listening, with friends and colleagues, to people I met in the street, at meetings, and of course to coaching clients. The excited and lively responses surprised me again, and I found myself co-running a series of sessions about caring for people with Dementia with Alexandra Vik from Norway, talking about comedy, creativity, and podcasting with Jim Kinloch of the Jelly Trumpet podcast, planning workshops on “Listening to Death”, being offered contributions by writers, poets, artists, activists… 

It was meeting Julie and joining the wider RSA Project that she and Zoe run that put this unexpected activity into a wider context. They have brought together an enormously varied group of people, working on utterly different projects, held together by a shared sense of exploration and wonder at the possibilities that emerge when you follow the threads of personal meaning and let them lead. By folding my work - which had been, and still is, without goals or plans, but full of meaning and vitality - into their bigger project, I saw freshly that creativity is a form of play. Rather than the guidelines, objectives, and pre-ordained outcomes of most work projects, we were all engaged in work whose form, meaning, and value emerged as we continued to explore and build for its own sake. In a world that increasingly insists that we should know where we’re going before we set out, despite the enormous environmental, social, and cultural shifts happening all around us, this is important work. We are living in circumstances that are more and more unfamiliar to us, more and more distant from what we have known, and what we might have expected… 

Cultivating respect for and familiarity with the creativity that we all possess, however, covered over it has become with disuse and our ideas about ourselves, is a necessary, vital part of meeting the future with aliveness, flexibility, and hope. 

Biography and links 

Anne Waldon is a transformational coach, working with activists, and anyone who wants to make a difference, as well as people suffering from anxiety, depression, and stress. She specialises in learning and teaching about Deep Listening, and the powerful simplifying insights it offers into living a rich, meaningful life. She teaches tai chi and qigong in person and online, and runs River Dragon’s Online Teahouse. She has been a Fellow of the RSA since 1996. 

Photo credit: Julian Barnard

Exhibition / Gallery