“More often than not, we don’t listen to understand, we listen to reply. Our concern is what we want to say, how we want to appear, what’s going on inside of us.”
How to listen?
It’s not that difficult to listen. To listen deeply and honestly. And yet it requires a lot of practice. And a strong intention. I am trying to learn how to listen deeply, from my heart, as they say. And how do I go about it? Unsurprisingly, I go about it with the tools of Mindfulness.
When I listen deeply and from the heart, it is like walking through a rich and complex landscape. It can even feel a bit like getting high, I guess. How often then I realise that there is more wisdom in me, or, rather, the space in which the Other can find a response, when I truly listen, leaving my agendas and judging somewhere else.
And how does one practice listening through mindful awareness?
The way I know is through meditation.
Many people believe you need to sit for a long time in order to meditate. At least half an hour, or perhaps a couple of hours. And while that can in itself be rewarding, it is not what will get you started. Or at least not most people.
It is as simple as stopping doing. For a minute, or three, or five. Feeling your breath, feeling your body on the Earth (even on a high rise! or on a plane!). And listening. There are always sounds, outside, inside… Pick one up. Listen and notice how quickly you start interpreting, analysing it… “is that grasshoppers or frogs?”, “what an annoying sound!”, “that reminds me of…”. How does it feel when that happens? Is there an associated response in your body? Whenever you realise that you’re drifting away, remember that you can go back to feeling your breath. That’s it. Repeat. As often as you can.
Importantly, there is no wrong way of meditating. It is not wrong when you catch yourself thinking about shopping, or that itch on your foot. That is mindfull awareness. “Where am I? I’m here, and my mind is thinking about going to the kitchen and making bread.” Ok. Noted. Now I can get on with listening to the Earth.
There is a wealth of free resources in the form of guided meditations to develop our sense of listening. I feel that they do help one develop one’s own practice.
Some do take half an hour, or even more. This might all seem like a waste of our precious time… Yet I think that it’s probably one of the best investments we can make. We spend so much of our lives un-doing the consequences of misunderstandings, and unintentionally isolating ourselves from the rest of the world… how much easier and joyfull it would be if we actually knew what the Other is actually trying to tell us.
Just one of many sites with useful resources… her words got me started on this post!