The Art of Listening

Listening is definitely an art, one in reflecting and mirroring, and hopefully one that I am improving through practicing and teaching yoga. Recently I have had a number of experiences where I just don’t feel heard. Do you ever get that feeling when you’re talking or trying ot express yourself? It could be a partner, a friend, a shop assistant and nearly always the case when it’s my children! I’m guilty of being the ‘not-listening one’ too. It can be a hugely frustrating experience when we feel unheard, interrupted, advised, unmet, misunderstood, or simply ignored. Perhaps we just don’t have the time to listen properly anymore in our increasingly distracted and impatient lives? 

It is often in couples that the ‘not-listening’ dynamic can play out in it’s most animated and problematic interchange. This can be especially true when talking about feelings or emotions. I imagine many of you can relate to this. I do. The need to come up with a response, a solution or an opinion or perhaps even to talk about our own stories in relation to what’s being said can often end up getting in the way for act. Ultimately what’s required is just being present with what’s being said.

I love that the word ‘listen’ is an anagram of the word ‘silent’. For that is the hidden advice to being able to hear someone fully. Be silent, nothing to do, just be present. As a part of my ongoing training in iRest Yoga Nidra we learn how to facilitate co-meditation. This is a fascinating process in which we can really learn to hear what someone else’s experience is without feeling the need to change or fix anything. The ‘meditator’ speaks out what is arising in the moment and the ‘facilitator’ will either encourage them to “go on” or “tell me more about that” and when appropriate repeat back to them using the words they actually used – not our own interpretation. It is a mirroring practice.

Often we might be hearing rather than listening and we go into our own inner dialogue and judgements about what’s being said. Imagine listening to someone else as if your whole body were the instrument for listening. Not just the ears. And could you feel okay not being able to give an answer or come up with a solution or fix anything? How about just being present and instead letting the other person come up with their own solution? Could you show this courtesy to those around you or even more skilfully, could you do this with yourself?? TO listen to yourself is a practice in presence and patience; an attitude of deep intuitive listening to the body instead of the thinking mind. It requires allowing, meeting and greeting the sensations, feelings, images and thoughts that are arising within you as messengers. It’s meditation. When you are listening to another you could see it more as a co-meditation.

I’ll leave you with this little video as it illustrates my point beautifully and will surely make you laugh!






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