The Art of Listening
It’s hard to speak and listen at the same time. In Luminous Soul, we cultivate the art of listening. We learn to focus on pulling inward and listen to: The mind, the thoughts, the body, the heartbeat, and the inner sound known as nadam.
There is something about listening that links us with our highest wisdom. It’s as if the capacity to listen means we are not already full with thoughts and ideas. In effect, we have space to take in what we are hearing.
To truly listen let the commentator in your head take rest and feel what is being said without any preconceived idea, without judgment … listen.
In Yoga, listening is connected with feeling. Not feeling on an emotional level, but feeling on a pure experiencing level.
I recently spoke with a friend who was quite upset about something. Rather than give her an answer to her difficulty, I decided to do what I call really listen. Listening itself became a kind of answer that day. In other words, I stayed present, I didn’t move away from what she was expressing in any way, I stayed with her words and their import without preconceived ideas or ready-made responses, without judgment, and in so doing I modeled a way she could possibly find resolution.
Each of us has innate knowing, but we don’t often activate it. Listening deeply to others is a gift and listening to your self on a regular basis supports the sincere connection with self and the development of innate knowing.
Listening and Meditation:
The first step in the meditative process is to sit quietly with your mind and body and listen. Students often find this to be challenging. For many, the simple act of being still and listening can feel hard. The capacity to hear means you have internal room. In a society where distraction is prized, listening needs to be consciously cultivated.
That day that I spoke with my friend she was talking very fast, her voice was filled with anxiety about her circumstance. I noticed it, but rather than judge the pressure I perceived or push it away, I simply softened and moved closer to it. By listening to her I found that in a short time her voice became less tinny and her energy became calmer. She clicked in, so to speak, and began to listen to her self more. As she started to self-listen her reactionary self slowed down and her innate connected wisdom started to rise.
Here are three simple steps to develop your listening skills:
- Be Present and Notice: Three times this week practice being present and listening to a friend or loved one. You are not practicing agreeing or disagreeing just listen. Note what this gives you access to. Here are two dictionary definitions of ‘to listen:’ To give attention to a sound or to take notice of what someone says.
- Work with Your Fear: Work with the fear that may rise in you as you listen. You may find that a loneliness, sadness or anger becomes more visible, or you might discover a part of you that wants to problem solve, or that by listening to someone you may find that you notice judgment rising in you. Work to release these aspects and simply shift back to present listening. Think of listening as a muscle that you are developing to access greater clarity.
- Listen to the Sound Itself: Sometimes the sound itself has information on a feeling level. Two times this week, practice listening to the sound itself. You don’t have to disappear to the meaning of the words, just give presence to the quality of the sound. Notice how it feels, let your body and even your skin listen to the meaning.
Work with these suggestions everyone. I look forward to reading your comments in the section below. Enjoy your Luminous Soul Listening exploration month.
© 2014 Luminous Soul/Sanskrit Studies & Manorama