Sunday, January 23, 2011

The Art of Listening

"So when you are listening to somebody, completely, attentively, then you are listening not only to the words, but also to the feeling of what is being conveyed, to the whole of it, not part of it."

True listening is not easy. It requires being open to the possibility of change, being open to our beliefs being questioned, and being fully present in the moment.

How often do you have a conversation with another person who is distracted when you are talking or just waiting until you finish talking so they can go back to their point of view? Are you sometimes that person in the conversation? When you walk away from a conversation like that, it feels empty and unsatisfying because there was no real connection.

When you have a conversation with someone who is truly engaged in listening, and interested in what you are saying, a totally different dynamic happens. There is a connection. Both people grow and learn from the interaction.

We can hear the sound of birds more or less as a background noise without really paying attention. But when we really pause, when we begin to listen to the melody of their song, when we feel their song in our hearts, our world becomes more expansive and alive. We become more attuned to nature.

The same is true of listening to our intuition, our inner guide. Our bodies our giving us messages all the time. How often do we ignore them and pay a price?

We need to quiet our minds to truly listen. Darkness can accentuate our hearing capabilities. There is actually scientific proof that blind people have more acute hearing than people with sight. When we close our eyes, we can often focus more on listening with our inner ears as well as our auditory ears.

Yoga can teach us to listen better. When we listen to our breath, it guides us in and out of poses. It takes us to deeper places within our bodies giving us a more in depth understanding of the mind/body connection. Making deeper connections with our bodies, our intuition, and nature, helps us to realize more of our full potential. It supports our true nature which seeks harmony and is generous in spirit. In yoga we open our bodies, we create space for movement and stillness. This allows us to be receptive and strong. Through meditation and focusing on just the breath, a higher level of our subconscious can be accessed.

Listen for the things that are hard to hear - the gentle passage of the breath in your throat, the emotion or intention behind the words, the voice of your intuition. True listening is a gift we can give to each other and to ourselves. It leads to feeling far more powerful than words. To paraphrase a quote by the Greek philosopher Epictetus, God gave us two ears and one mouth because listening is twice as hard as talking. So take a moment, close your eyes, and listen.

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