Listening is an overlooked and undervalued way of being in our culture. Yes, a way of being, for when we listen, we are still, empty, receptive, alert, and interested. We are paying attention. We are open and available. Can you let yourself feel it right now?
True listening comes from a place of silence. If your inner world is filled up with swirling thoughts and agitated emotions, listening will be impossible. Whether you are trying to hear your own inner voice or the voice of another, you are filtering your perceptions through a haze of lack, anxiety, and confusion.
Imagine trying to decide on your next career move if you are engulfed in fear and overwhelm. Try working out an issue with your partner if you are already adamant about what you want and need. Bear the heartbreak of being too focused on your to-do list to listen to your child’s concerns.
But when you address these habits of thinking and feeling so they no longer disturb you, the whole world opens up. Put them aside, and you hear as if for the first time. You notice nuance and detail. You are clear, fresh, and in the moment.
Start in Silence
If you want to deeply listen, start in silence. Bring your attention inward to discover the space within you that is free of turmoil. Absorb yourself in it. Let yourself be still.
Really, this is all that you need to know. Once you are silent, you have given yourself the capacity to listen. You have let go of pulling in or pushing away. Struggle melts away, and you are open to hearing things as they are. You are effortlessly receptive.
And as you dwell in silence, you can’t help but soften. When you turn your attention away from the thoughts and feelings that provoke you, what is the result? Your heart opens. You feel connected, aware, and loving.
The Magic in Sound
Now from this place of silence, open to sound. Let hearing expand beyond any boundaries to all sounds that arise and pass on. Don’t label what you hear, simply listen. It’s a wonderland out there.
The Still, Small Voice Within
We are always receiving direction about how to move in our lives – if we are open to listening. How is it that we ignore these messages? We are too distracted to listen. We think we have all the answers. We cloud our thinking with drama and emotional upheaval. Then we wonder why our lives are so out of whack.
The medicine for these problems is closer than close. All we need to do is listen.
Recently, a friend of mine said with tears in her eyes, “I know I need to quit my job. I’m exhausted. All I want is time when I don’t have to do anything. I have been living in the structures of my life for a long time and they have lost their meaning.” To me, this is clarity, not complaining. She is finally listening to the still, small voice within.
Listening is the first step, and being willing to act on what you hear is the second. Listen to what you know to be true in the deepest, wisest part of your being. Then have the courage to let your life unfold according to its rightful plan.
The Greatest Gift
Have you ever been deeply listened to? You feel accepted as is, with no judgment and no agenda. Your listener isn’t resisting you or influencing you or expecting anything of you.
Some might say that deep listening is the greatest gift you can offer to another. Try it and see. You might get an insight or new perspective. You might see him or her with a fresh, compassionate eye. And your generosity just might flow back to you a thousand fold.
Authentic listening starts in silence. Be still and pay close attention. Open to all that arises. Trust that you can stop trying to control everything and that you can just be. Listen with your whole being, and the the deepest truths will be revealed.
What have you learned about listening? Do you need to listen more deeply? I’d love to hear…