The Art of Listening
Frankly, our lives are usually overwhelmed with the busy chore list that we call Life. We have been taught to look to the future, to plan for tomorrow, and with the long list of things we are all “required” to do, there is little time to stop and look at what’s happening now. Really, think about that. Listen to the words forming in your mind as you read that. When’s the last time you sat and had a conversation with a friend that didn’t include infinite glances at your cell phone, or worse, scrolling through your newsfeed while someone else babbles on about something you obviously don’t care about?
Somewhere in the past few years the addiction to distraction took over our lives. I realized the other day that I too had slipped into this horrible habit when my dog literally smacked the phone out of my hand in the middle of our session of fetch. Even my dog could recognize how ridiculous I was being, and I don’t even have to listen to her (well, that’s a lie. She’s part husky and voices her opinions all the time!). I stopped and wondered what it was that my fiance had been saying five minutes ago and couldn’t remember. I felt cheap. This wasn’t the person I was, nor the person I am. I put the phone down and listened to myself for the first time that day.
We are constantly inundated with images of what is trendy or correct and it saturates your true thinking process. You become a succubus to marketing ploys without ever asking yourself how you feel about what you see. It makes listening to your own voice very difficult. Take a few minutes every day to stop and listen to what your inner dialogue is saying. You might be surprised by what you hear. I can go from being obsessed with finding the perfect shoes that I know I will probably never wear, to realizing I have an outstanding idea to put into my book series. I am always amazed by what I hear when I turn off the distractions. Especially the voices of my friends and family.
Perhaps what I wanted to touch base on most is rebuilding the relationships you have with the people around you. This is what I mean by listening as an art, not a duty or service to others. I find that lately we listen to respond, to take what someone has said and make it about us, by refusing to accept their vision or twisting it into one we can understand. When was the last time you listened to what your friend had to say through your ears but their eyes? Listen without the intention to say anything in return. Try to hear what they are saying from their point of view, try to entertain their ideas without feeling like you need to accept them as yours. As a barista, I have been blessed with the opportunity to practice this every day. I meet so many walks of life that it would be naive of me to think that I’d connect with everyone. In fact, I find it very rare to make a genuine soul connection in such a fast paced setting. What I have found is a haven for expanded consciousness. With all the political battles happening currently, opinions on our future fly around those four walls my entire shift. I don’t agree with a lot of what is being said, but I listen anyway. I listen to learn about the people who surround me. They are the ones I will be building a future with. Who knows what genius might come my way if I give them a chance? Knowledge seeps through everything in your reality, don’t miss the chance to have your mind blown.
Lastly, take time to listen to what can’t speak in our language. Animals, nature, your intuition. There are multitudes to learn from the delicacy of silent communication. Practice with yourself. Put the phone down. Stare into your own eyes for a few minutes without looking away, without distracting yourself with trivial thoughts. You might surprise yourself.