It’s important to listen. You know that. Although, as important as you know it is, you probably forget to listen more often than not. And I don’t mean just during conversations. The ability to listen in all aspects of life is just as crucial to a mindful perspective as the ability to be present, and you most certainly can’t do one without the other. Thanks to our mindful teachers, we have been convinced of the power that comes from being present, but let’s also take the time to pay attention to the power of listening.
When it comes to listening, there are two camps: active and reactive. The intention of the reactive listener is to save face. She is more concerned about how she is being perceived than what is actually being said. Little is learned by the persons who listens reactively.
The active listener is thoughtful, attentive, and present. She learns. It’s with her attention that she shows her conversational partner respect and compassion, two things we could all use more of.
Listen to Others.
One of my favorite things in conversation is also one of the most uncomfortable things for me. I love it when I am so engrossed in a person’s words that when they finish their thought, I have absolutely nothing to say back to them. I used to be afraid of that silence, it made me feel like I wasn’t smart enough to hang in the conversation. Now, when it happens I know it was because I took the time to listen, without cultivating a “next agenda item” of my own.
Listen to yourself.
Let your thoughts be and then pay attention to them. Maybe you journal or meditate, even when your thoughts make no sense or are insignificant, listen. Again, you will learn.
Even more so, listen to yourself when you speak to others. Because of social anxieties and insecurities, sometimes the things you let slip in public conversations tell you a lot more about yourself than you may have been willing to recognize in private.
Listen to the Feeling.
That moment when you feel the urge to go to the grocery store at 10pm or call a friend you haven’t spoken to in years. Something is there for you, and if you don’t listen, you miss out on that magic. Whether a gut feeling or intuition, the more you listen to that voice the deeper trust you’ll have in that voice.
Listen to Nothing.
And there is your meditation.
My intention is to listen.
I listen to myself, to others, to nothing.
I listen. It’s my special power.