Nurturing Relationships: Listen Up
There’s one mindfulness skill that can improve your relationships with others, and you can practice it nearly every minute of every day. In fact, you do it all the time, naturally. Now try to do it consciously: Listen.
Hearing and listening are not necessarily the same thing. Studies show that immediately after hearing someone talk, most people remember only half of what was said. In addition to being an essential tool for effective communication, good listening can help ease stress and improve relationships.
Quiet your inner chatter and hear your authentic voice, learn here skills in the art of listening.
Start listening right now. You may hear a distant siren, the wind blowing outside, the whirring of a computer, or the rumblings of your refrigerator. You may hear the sounds of lives being lived around you: doors closing, squirrels scurrying, the neighbor’s dog protesting his solitude. When you listen more deeply you can hear things in the stillness. Listening with your ears, with your heart, and with your entire being is a way of being receptive. When you truly listen you will feel porous, open, and relaxed.
YOUR AUTHENTIC VOICE
There is a way to always know whether what you are hearing is your authentic voice or the babbling of your ego. If the voice is urging you to be peaceful, to take positive action, it is your authentic self. If it is complaining, wanting more, or wishing ill on anyone or anything, that’s your ego. Ask it to please keep the noise down. Tell it to take a number — you’ll get back to it later.
QUIET YOUR INNER CHATTER
Sometimes we don’t hear another person speaking because we’re too busy listening to the chatter inside our minds. We’re wondering how we look, planning what we’re going to say next, or judging what the other person has just said. All of this adds up to the equivalent of inner white noise. Make eye contact with the person you are speaking with. Mute the television, turn off the radio, and settle into a receptive posture. Uncross your arms and lean slightly toward the person speaking.
When a friend comes to you with a problem, do you immediately try to think of ways to solve it? Are you formulating nuggets of advice even as he or she speaks to you? When you give advice you usually leave the present moment behind. But when you listen, you enter the moment and allow yourself to respond with empathy and compassion. Just as you have a deep inner well of wisdom that you access more easily when you sink into the present moment, so too does your friend or loved one. Compassionate listening, not advice, is the best response to a friend in need.
Adapted from Mindful Moments for Stressful Days, by Tzivia Gover. Copyright (c) 2002 by Tzivia Gover. Reprinted by permission of Storey Books.
Adapted from Mindful Moments for Stressful Days, by Tzivia Gover.