When someone really listens to you, how do you feel? Respected and good, right? When someone isn’t listening to you, you know it. They are waiting to add their opinion to the conversation. How do you feel about that interruption? I get bored, sometimes annoyed, and mentally trail off. I turn into the person who isn’t listening.
Listening is an art. When we truly listen, we disarm our judgement and we allow that person to express themselves without trying to change or influence them. It’s an art because the person who is talking is expressing themselves and we, as the observer, should give them the space.
As a society, we aren’t great listeners. Between distractions such as our phones, agendas and personal opinions, how often do we really listen? The last time you were talking with someone, how much of the time were you listening and how much of the time where you waiting for your chance to talk? Just waiting to share your viewpoint and not really listening to theirs.
When someone gives you their attention, with their ears, mind and heart, you can feel it. You might even share deeper realizations because you feel safe to express yourself. When we don’t listen to a person, we don’t give them respect. Listening is about acknowledging their position and where they are coming from without having to fully agree with them.
The most intimate relationship you will have in your lifetime is with yourself. Hands down. When we don’t know how to listen to others, are you really listening to yourself? To your inner voice? To your heart? To your soul? Or are you constantly playing judge to the defensive?
I use my yoga and meditation practice as lessons in listening. When I am feeling lost or overwhelmed, I practice being present and being available to whatever is coming up. The more I listen, the closer I get to what’s going on in my mind and heart. When I am silent on the outside, I get a chance to practice the art of listening on the inside.
Without judgement, without trying to change, without embarrassment for my feelings. I may not agree with my feelings at times so I struggle and fight them. I’m learning in my practice that instead of fighting, when I let the emotions and feelings just have their moment and be really heard, they just pass by like a car changing lanes on a highway.
What if we can listen more to ourselves? Practice with your own mind and heart. Notice how you feel when you are heard. Now practice listening to others and they will appreciate you so much.