Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The Art of Deep Listening

By Kay Lindahl

Perhaps one of the most precious and powerful gifts we can give another person is to really listen to them, to listen with quiet fascinated attention, with our whole being, fully present. This sounds simple, but if we are honest with ourselves, we do not often listen to each other so completely.

Listening is a creative force. Something quite wonderful occurs when we are listened to fully. We expand, ideas come to life and grow, we remember who we are. Some speak of this force as a creative fountain within us that springs forth; others call it the inner spirit, intelligence, true self. Whatever this force is called, it shrivels up when we are not listened to and thrives when we are.

The way we listen can actually allow the other person to bring forth what is true and alive to them. Sometimes we have to do a lot of listening before the fountain is replenished. Have you ever noticed how some people seem to need to talk? They go on and on, usually in a very superficial, nervous manner. This is often because they have not been truly listened to. Patience is required to listen to such a person long enough for them to get to their center point of tranquility and peace. The results of such listening are extraordinary. Some would call them miracles.

Listening well takes time, skill, and a readiness to slow down, to let go of expectations, judgments, boredom, self-assertiveness, defensiveness. Iêve noticed that when people experience the depth of being listened to like this, they also begin to listen to others in the same way.

Listening is an art that calls for practice. Imagine if we all spent just a few minutes each day practicing the art of listening, being fully present with the person we are with. There would be a collective sigh of contentment and joy. Listen!


Image by Edouard Boubat