Has anyone ever responded to you in this way… “What? Oh sorry, I was reading a text, I heard you, I just missed the last part of what you were saying.” Perhaps you were in a situation where you noticed a blank stare or a judging face from the person you were talking with… or maybe you experienced some other version of half-listening exchanges where you left feeling uneasy, not listened to, understood or seen.
It doesn’t help when “noise” levels are on the rise.
Is it just me? Have you noticed a significant increase in the “noise” that we are all bombarded with? Between the external world clatter and our internal committee of voices vying for our attention, it’s easy to free fall into mindlessly living. Tuning out can become our friend in helping to minimize the impact of information overload. The danger in employing this strategy too often is in becoming numb and desensitized to our significant relationships and vital connections to others who matter most.
Is this of interest to you?
Do you ache for meaningful connections with those you care to invest your time but find you’re fatigued from all that is coming at you from within and the outside world?
In a time when unsatisfactory communication is rampant, the first step begins with you. Silence is an integral part of learning the art of deeper listening. If I don’t practice sitting still with my own “monkey brain” I can’t possibly effectively or emphatically listen to others. As of late, I have had to work extra hard in the practice of being more self-aware, to paying closer attention to my own biases, judgments, when I’m tuning out and when I am fatigued with all the “noise”… especially the daily unrelenting external world “noise.”
My hearing impairment prompts me to notice more nuanced communication, simple gestures, eye contact or the lack thereof, welcoming a different kind of connection, a different listening. I liken it to what it might be like for a photographer trying to understand someone’s story by creating enough space for that story to unveil itself without interference.
When I take the time to still myself, to pause and listen to my own mind wanderings, I notice that I have a greater awareness of spaces expanding or narrowing between others. Glimpses of how another person and I distance with our bodies can become more accentuated. Words spoken and unspoken hang in the air begging for attention, not necessarily action. Listening at this level disarms most defenses and/or the need to criticize. When I am holding my own feet to the fire and actively practice deeper listening I become more available. More present. More emphatic. More “tuned in” to what is being “said” and “shared.”
I know I have had moments of overanalyzing, overthinking or overreacting to what is being said that actually isn’t being said at all, mostly when I am listening fatigued. You and I, we hear by filtering through our past experiences, biases and judgments. When we listen from these places we are not truly listening to the other.
Listening with the intent to understand is a remarkable gift we can give ourselves as well as others.
Think about it. When did you last make time to tune in, to listen to what was occurring inside you with nonjudgmental awareness? In these current times, when have you given yourself a break, time to pause, breathe and listen to yourself in a safe, comforting environment? When was the last time you deeply listened to someone else?
Or… when was the last time you felt someone truly listened to you without bias or reaction? When was the last time you sincerely looked deeply into a significant other’s eyes and said, “I hear your struggle. I am here without judgment or advice. I am deeply listening. I see you?”
With the holiday season fast approaching consider beginning a deeper listening practice with yourself. Spend some much needed time sitting in a quiet space to listen to what comes up, what calls to your attention without clinging or attaching to those thoughts. Simply listen with compassion and gentleness. Understand the “noise” and not be held prisoner by it.
“The unexpected action of deep listening can create a space of transformation capable of shattering complacency and despair.” - Terry Tempest Williams
Live well within, Love much,