The Power of Listening

Think about a time that someone was truly listening to you —not figuring out what to say next, wishing you would hurry up or going over their “to do” list. They were simply paying attention, being with you. Didn’t you feel understood, healed and most of all, connected?

Listening with soul requires accepting and being willing to be changed by the other. It’s the opposite of standing in judgment: i.e. protecting ourselves by putting others “in their place”. It means being willing to let our hearts be touched and to be willing to reveal our own in response.

“Listening,” it has been said, “is so close to being loved that most people cannot tell the difference.”

Real listening, as opposed to just hearing, opens to the mystery that is another. Real listening, as opposed to just hearing, opens to something of the other. It requires that we’re conscious of our own beliefs, assumptions or expectations about how the world is or who this other might be– that are standing in the way of our hearing them. And it requires that we’re willing to let our stuff go enough to enter their world.

Listening to another begins in listening to ourselves in a soulful way. That has to do with getting out of our head and into a non-verbal connection. We listen through our body – its pathologies, the feelings in our bodies of our emotional states–and sensations we don’t recognize. Our body is, after all, not a separate thing that that we inhabit, but we are our bodies and it is us, so we must learn to accept it’s messages, hints and expressions as authentic. As we listen to our bellies and shoulders, we learn to attune to a deep soulful level in a way that drops judgment in favor of accepting and connecting.

Listening with Soul is a gift.