Generally, we think of listening with our ears. Does that sound like a strange statement? Think about it. More and more conversations are transacted via email or text or twitter. We may occasionally listen to a live speaker but many of us rely on reading sound bites or short news stores on our computer or phone. I don’t think we can really listen through the written word. Nuances, inflections, tone are difficult to pick up on a screen and maybe more likely to be misinterpreted.
Really listening and hearing another person requires focus and being open, open to what he or she has to say. There is another aspect of listening that is as important as readiness to hear spoken words – listening to our bodies. Many years ago I learned an important lesson from an exercise instructor in New York City. “Your body doesn’t lie,” she announced in class one day. I thought and thought about that. Dealing with some severe physical challenges at the time, I realized that I used my mind to say “It’s not so bad,” “I can get through this” I wasn’t really listening to my body because I didn’t really know how to do it. When I started to listen, through work with a professional acupuncturist, I started to take time out for rest, started a Tai Chi class. Tai Chi helps me quiet my chattering mind, empty out the thoughts, be in the moment, be a better listener.
It’s only when we can focus on the moment that we can quiet our mind and open up to listen, to our body and I also believe, to words of other people. It takes openness to listen, from an open mind that is willing and ready to listen.
If you are like me, it may be helpful to think what you might do, what you might let go of, to be in the moment, to really listen. What is your body telling you? How might you really listen and hear what someone else is saying out loud to you? You may find that listening in conversation, being open to others is related to how your body feels.