Posts Tagged ‘listen’


We all need to be heard, but how many of us are really listening? I am trying to work on my own listening skills, and I’m realizing just how challenging this is.

When I am talking with someone about their life, I find myself wanting to relate to their issues and show that I understand – I want to ease their struggles and even fix their problems, but these are my desires, not theirs. When I jump in to share a similar story or to offer advice, I’m not really helping another. I am speculating about things that only they can solve.

What I think this person needs most is to be heard and valued within the safety of compassion. They certainly don’t need words or interjections. You see, we can communicate so much without saying a thing.

A healthy conversation seems to strike that harmonious balance between giving voice to our authentic selves while truly hearing what others have to say. Listening and being heard then become a kind of mindful exchange. I have been so blessed with friendships that are loving and therapeutic, and what works so well is that we speak from the heart with gentle offerings, not impositions. We give empathy and encouragement, and we are truly listening to each other.

I love the way my dear friend Rosary says that we are holding the space to be present with another. Let us cherish the time with our loved ones by simply listening to the moment rather than letting it slip away amidst distraction. September 11th is such a poignant reminder of this.

But, what about listening that involves negativity? I think it is vital to be discerning about the energy we give and receive, and to strive for the highest exchange possible. If it doesn’t feel elevating, don’t be a co-creator of it (note to self!).

And it’s so important to be aware of ego competition when talking with others, something Garth Stein points out beautifully in his endearing book The Art of Racing in the Rain. He writes from the perspective of a beloved dog who sees that humans continually interrupt one another. We often deflect what others are saying and we steal each other’s stories. Stein reminds us of the importance of being silent so that another can fully express themselves. We are there for them rather than thinking about how our own problems relate. It’s about being secure in knowing that our issues are as important, instead of trying to prove it.

With listening comes the sacred quality of silence, something that I truly crave. We are so crazed in this modern world with our noisy busy-ness, talking endlessly as we move from one stimulus to another. We are swimming in a sea of constant interruption. I want to be more still, and in that stillness, to hear the spiritual world. I want to receive the present moment and pay attention to what God is trying to tell me.

So often, life-changing messages are delivered by the people we encounter, if only we make ourselves open to them. Let us quiet the chatter of our minds so that we can listen to these messages with our hearts rather than our heads. Let us also listen to ourselves by putting the practice of meditation into our lives. We can find peace within this hectic society by stopping to hear our own compassionate voices. This is how we receive the wisdom of our ancient souls.

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