Deep Listening

“We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak.” – Epictetus

This thought is such an apt reminder for all of us as often I noticed that we are hardly present when we are with one another. We are either distracted with our smart phones, responding constantly to messages that are often not urgent; or our minds are thinking about something else and are somewhere else – we are hardly there in the moment with the person.

I came across this sharing from Jerry Braza in his book “The Seeds of Love” on the topic of ‘Deep Listening’, and I would like to share his thoughts with everyone:

“How many times are you with someone yet not really there? How often have you shared deeply with another but not felt that you’d been heard? Our society is plagued with parents who aren’t present for their children and co-workers more interested in what is on their computer screen or phone than the person visiting their office. With the ability for 24/7 connectivity, we often get so busy tending our social networks that we miss the most precious connections that are right in front of us – connections with ourselves and others. Thanks to technology, people around the globe are more in touch and yet simultaneously more isolated. The familiar habit of ‘hurry sickness’, a need to judge or fix problems,or the need to defend our view keeps us from being present with one another.”

“Deep listening encompasses more than just being attentive to what another is expressing. It has far-reaching implications for the depth at which we can be present with another. Deep listening implies that we are engaged in an open, non-judgmental way. We are not listening for a break in the conversation so that we may add our perspective or opinions. We are listening in a way that helps people better understand themselves by offering them the freedom to express themselves openly. Our focus is completely on them, and we need do nothing but sit in compassionate silence and give our attention. Perhaps this can best be described as listening from the heart.”

How do we break away from this mindless pattern in our relationships?

“The first goal in deep listening is to develop an understanding of the other. Our purpose in listening is not to win an argument or solve a problem. Often our own personal stories or mental formation can cloud our interactions. At times our stereotypes can create a limited view of the other and often negate the potential of creating emotional intimacy in the relationship. Personally, I find that I have the need to try to fix a problem being shared by making what I feel are helpful suggestions to the issue at hand. In so doing I often miss the opportunity to understand the other’s journey, to see them reflected in the light of who they truly are as individuals, and to learn from their sharing. Sometimes we find ourselves in the position of listening to someone in great pain or deep grief. They may rage at the unfairness of the situation or express profound sadness in their circumstances. At such times it is so tempting to temper or discount their feelings to make ourselves feel more comfortable. However, the art of deep listening can be the greatest gifts to another on their path to healing. Breathing deeply, listening with an open heart, and adopting a non-judgmental attitude are all part of watering the seeds of loving-kindness and compassion rather than fear and negativity.”

Paul Tillich mentioned this: “The first duty of love is to listen.”

Be mindful every time we are with someone – that we are fully present and listening deeply with our hearts.

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