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Are you REALLY listening?

Last week I found myself in a bit of a whirlwind. I had many meetings with different people, different topics, but felt like I was being talked AT. I truly did not feel like I was being heard. For all good intentions, as I believe there was only good intention, I shut down. Because I felt bombarded by words, I was not in a receptive place.

That reminded me of that Henry Nilsson song, “Everybody’s Talking At Me”. I wasn’t even hearing a word they were saying.

After a few days of this, when I realized what was happening, I spent some time in contemplation and journaling to see what was really going on with me.

I find that self-awareness is not always easy. Yes, we may learn a lot about ourselves in the process, but often it brings up more questions than answers. Getting to know ourselves is a lifelong process. As my mentor tells me, I tend to live deeply, examining and contemplating so much in a constant search for deeper awareness and healing that I continue to unravel a huge ball of yarn, encountering knots along the way. But, always doing the work on myself helps me deepen the work I do with others.

Here is what I discovered about myself through this process of connecting with deep listening:

Presence: What a gift it can be to offer our presence to another person. In offering our mindful presence, we are not anticipating what we may say in response, we are (trying not to) judge what they may be saying, but rather receiving it, being present to it. Allowing another person to share from their heart, share their truth in a safe, non-judgmental space is remarkable. It is remarkable to offer that space, and remarkable to receive as well.

Listen between the words: Sometimes a bit more difficult, we listen with our ears and process with our brains. But can we allow ourselves the space to listen with our hearts as well? Perhaps to hear what is NOT being said, or tune into the energy of the words, the emotions coming through or just under the surface. As an intuitive person, this is where I feel most comfortable in many conversations. I pick up what may be behind the words, the intention, the frequency, the emotion. Putting this together with the words themselves, we have a deeper, more richer experience with another person.

Give and Take: Everything is energy, energetic exchanges are happening all day long. We can spend a lot of time in receiving mode, but it also important that we have the space to share in safety, in sacredness. While I offer spiritual counseling and guidance, I also have trusted advisors I can share with, who presence me and my words, my energy. Seek out those souls in your life.

Respond, Rather than React: My go to favorite practice!! Pause!! Notice when something is being triggered and sit with it. Allow it to process, for the emotions to pass with compassionate awareness. While I was reacting internally to all the talking at me, I was aware enough to pause and take it in. Parts of my brain were jumping into defense mode, but I maintained an awareness of my internal responses. I bookmarked the conversation for later processing and chose my response carefully because I was not able to process at the time.

These are all techniques that can be applied to any situation. At work, at home, with family and friends, even with strangers at the supermarket, we have many opportunities to deeply listen and be present for others. To do so, is truly to meet someone where they are, without judgment, with compassion and love.

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