Hello again! The thing about listening is it’s not strictly an audible sense. Not to downplay how difficult and needed it is to listen with your two ears, but to also listen within and externally to the dialogue the body is trying to communicate. With these powers combined, we can fully digest the entire picture of a situation within ourselves and within others. But before we delve into that trippy head space, let us clear the air on the difference between hearing and listening. Oh yes, trust; they are very different animals.
Any living creature can hear in some way (unless they're deaf)- it is no skill, it’s a science of receiving sound waves. Just one of our amazing senses that if we are fortunate enough to be given at birth, we oftentimes don't fully take advantage of. We are extraordinary beings, so let's step it up a notch with a consistent practice of accurately receiving and interpreting messages in a communicative process through the art of listening.
I call it an “art” due to the many aspects that come with this practice along with the fact that IT IS a practice and a skill to be learned. Not only the versatility in the tone of a person’s voice, but in the body language. As we give over to the entirety of listening, we allow the stories told through those two channels to be revealed with the hidden meanings that lie just below the surface. It also requires a great deal of focus, a skillset that crosses over into all facets of our lives.
On average, human beings spend 70% of their time communicating in some way, and so, in what way may we spend more time learning from within as well as from those around us, rather than repeating what we already know? “ If we were supposed to talk more than we listen, we would have two tongues and one ear,” said the ever so brilliant Mark Twain. But the man has a point! HOW does one practice this immersion of the senses, so that we may get just an inch closer to becoming the well balanced human beings we are all capable of and deserve to be?!
A simple first step--stop talking. That may sound a bit harsh, but hear me out: When we begin with the act of silencing ourselves externally, or internally i.e. “to do” lists, the smells around us, if you called Virginia back, yadda yadda, all we can do is focus on being there as support. And trust me, I know life is exciting, and there are so many things happening as I type this post, but that's why it's a practice (a practice that I started working on at the age of 12 when my mother said I wasn't listening). That means a daily reminder to simply be cognizant of finishing another person’s sentence, talking over them, or interrupting them. Not only are you working on your skillZ, but it's also the kindest gesture you can give to another human being, your attention.
Once you begin to halt yourself from this silly habit, you can begin to pay close attention to the tone of a person's voice. The sing-song of this practice creates a very clear stream of consciousness allowing you to know EXACTLY what they are expressing. And worst case scenario, you can always ask for clarification, sparking an even higher amount of confidence radiating from you, and there you have it, a double whammy! Everybody wins.
As you watch this begin to shift your life, be sure to do the same amount of graceful listening for yourself! The art of listening to your own thoughts and body, and letting them land and develop into the stories that need to be settled and throughout. Anything from, “why am I so mad about politics,” to “ what's in my right shoulder making me feel this and holding my body in this closed off way?” Ya know, stuff like that! Most of what we are trying to communicate is either physically spoken, or in your face (along with the rest of your body)- we just need to dig a little deeper and find some silence within ourselves. Everything will be right where you left it, and life may begin to unfold a little differently… just listen.