The Power and Benefits of Deep Listening
And the healing that comes from it….
What is deep listening?
Deep listening, is listening with your whole being. Listening to yourself and others with compassion, with desire and interest in their words and visions, as well as listening deeply to your own soul. Being still and absorbing the sacred story of another’s heart, as well as your own, is powerful and beneficial to your overall wellness in body, spirit and the mind.
Poor Listening, often means that the listener isn’t able to separate their own needs and interests from the others. They may interrupt, disregard or disconnect from the feelings portrayed from the speaker leaving a negative experience, frequently giving advice vs. listening for the sake of listening.
My first memory and experience of deep listening came from my maternal grandfather, Odean. He had this lovingness and acceptance that enveloped my heart. My grandfather made me feel that every word mattered, that everything I created was a masterpiece. A deep joy and sense of belonging was planted into my heart and soul. He had this way about him, an open-hearted deep interest in listening to others in a loving and mindful way. I often felt later in life, that my grandfather practices the laws of compassion and Buddhism without claiming that as a lifestyle or philosophy. He deeply touched all who knew him.
Many of us have grandparents that enrich our lives in the same way, and have given us the tools to love unconditionally. The trick is being able to pull from these memories and teachings when life happens, we suffer from dis-ease, and are unable to balance things in our daily living.
The Benefits of Deep Listening
As a child, the desire to be heard is powerful. The need to be seen, to be nurtured, to be loved, is essential to the growth or our heart. As a mother of two young sons, I take the time to listen deeply. Believe me, this is not easy. I have to create a sacred practice around clearing my mind, to be able to be present for my children.
When we are busy with our life, and schedules or rituals. The simple things become blurred. I’m a entrepreneur and midwife and at times I myself need to be still and listen deeply to my own heart when the noises from the outside world put me into a frenzy. My dear teacher Venerable Tulku Jigme Rinpoche kindly reminds me to be STILL, to be aware, and be loving to myself, even when I feel I fall short.
I sometimes go deep into my cave of creativity. As a programmer and game designer, it’s difficult to pull myself away from a project, and this particular moment in time was when I was preparing to launch all seven of my medical review games. Then one day my 6-year-old son came up to me at 8pm and said, “Mommy can you be with me? And sing me our song.?” I said, “Give me five minutes.” and my husband put him to bed that night. That became a pattern for several days until he stopped asking, and I felt the loneliness of his call. I went into his room, picked him up and put him in bed with me. I cried deeply that night, breathing in his scent. Kissing his small fingers that were wrapped around my hair.
I remembered what Dr. Arun Gandhi said during his lecture the previous year. He told us of a sweet story of his grandfather Mahatma Gandhi. He said that as a young child he was a typical hyper active and mischievous child. He would run into meetings his grandfather would be having with important officials and thought leaders, jump up on his grandfather’s lap and be childishly disruptive, he lovingly remembered that his grandfather always would hold him, look at him, and give him the deep listening and attention he needed. A true practice of non-violent communication and listening. Yes, this is Gandhi we are speaking of, but many parents and grandparents are just as mindful.
I knew that giving my son’s that attention was necessary, so I created a new schedule, I started to wake an hour before I normally woke, to do my morning practice (Buddhist) and meditation verses in the evening. That was two years ago….
Steps to Take Towards Deep Listening
When we are clear, when we are aligned, we can be of service to ourselves and others more fully. And to do so, we need to take the steps needed to create that understanding in our own lives and daily living.
Create a Sacred Space
As a parent, or busy individual, we need to have a sacred space. One that is filled with calm. If you have a small space, then devote a wall or corner to a meditative quiet sanctuary. So find time to develop an inviting space for you to sit, relax and be present in, you deserve it!
Meditation & Awareness
The benefits of sitting and stillness are important to our overall health, a way to heal the mind, body and soul. It’s a time to be in the present, and become connected to self, which allows you to connect and truly see others. I personally draw from the Ngöndro practices, taught by my teacher Ven. Tulku Jigme Rinpoche, with a special focus on the Bodhisattva Manjushri prayer. Starting the day with a deep understanding of how my speech affects not only myself but others, as well as evoking the inner wisdom and skills needed to be a mindful listener has enriched our family.
This daily practice also helps my sons. When I teach them the benefits and responsibility of non-violent speech, they understand their part in it. This is a great practice for children who are suffering from bullies or outside forces regarding violent communication. Again, repeating the lessons of awareness and compassion in our speech to ourselves and our community.
The power of meditation and awareness is yours. You can start out with small allotted moments of time, say, five minutes, then slowly start increasing the moments of silence and stillness, being mindful of staying in the present and keeping the mind clear of obstacles. Be aware of your energy, your breathing and find a rhythm of calm. The practice of meditation in a modern world takes time, and will benefit you greatly.
Clear out negative self talk and thinking. Make a decision to remove thoughts that don’t promote your wellness. This includes clearing the home, dysfunctions in your lifestyle, and business. Give attention to the positive-good feeling aspects in all areas of your life. Our outside reflects our insides, so take the steps needed to clear out pieces of your life that clutter your thoughts, and create obstacles. When we accept and allow greatness into our life, transformation happens! And spring is upon us, so take out the garbage, and the clutter and baggage that we cling to, and create that sacred space in the mind and your life.
The power of deep listening starts with you. Be aware of your speech, also be aware of how people respond when they share their story. I feel that my life as a midwife brought me more deeply into this practice. Being aware of the needs of a woman’s body, and growing child connected me to this understanding. Also being a mother to incredible sons. My eldest a soulful and wise creative with autism, and my youngest a quick tongued master mind, has given me the platform to truly be present. So be mindful of others, listen with your soul, align with their needs, and give more of yourself every day.
With the deepest love & respect,