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The Art of Listening

Right now, I hear cars in the distance, bird singing, tree leaves fluttering in the wind. I hear noise from the sky that I imagine comes from a plane.

What do you hear right now?
Take a moment to just listen…

How often do you take a moment to just listen and witness what is happening around you? I judge I don’t do that enough. When I do pause and listen, though, I notice I become calmer and I feel more grounded.

Listening and relaxing into being in this moment is a great way to have little pause in the midst of a busy day. I concentrate for a moment on just being rather than doing or thinking. I am a human being with two ears to hear.

Listening to the world around you is one thing. It’s quite another to listen to someone when they are sharing “heavy” topics or “difficult” emotions with you. Do you get impatient or anxious while listening to someone in such situations? Do you wish they would stop talking yet don’t say that to them? Do you notice your thoughts drifting away and not really paying attention to what they are saying?

I think the way we listen is as important as the way we speak and share. We just haven’t been taught the art of listening and being present. The world around us is many times hectic and our nervous system is on alert ongoingly. The result: just being present can be difficult. Practice helps, though. Noticing how you distract yourself and owning it and still being willing to listen and stay present with the other person.

I notice that sometimes in social interactions and in workshops, people are so eager to talk that they hardly listen to others. For me, active listening while being quiet was initially a challenge. Nowadays, I really enjoy listening. What the other person usually expects of me in those moments is my presence. “I see you. I hear you. Thank you for sharing.” I’m practically allergic to receiving advice and I really like when I can share about my struggles, sadness or tricky situations and just be heard. Saying this out loud helps me to understand more about myself. And listening to others helps me to understand more about them and me. Great gems come with listening and presence.

What about trying this with your partner / friend / child or a co-worker? You both have four minutes for just sharing while the other is listening. The listener does not comment or ask questions. They just relax into hearing the other. And then you switch roles. Afterwards, you can talk about your experience. How was it for you to have time to share without receiving questions, comments or advice? Did the time feel long while the other person was talking and you were listening? How was it to just listen without commenting?

I really love this kind of sharing where I don’t receive opinions or advice and can have my time to share about my day or something important to me. Many times, I feel more connected to someone when they are willing to listen and stay present than when they talk “a lot” or offer opinions and advice. I love witnessing people in workshops being present with each other and relating to each other’s stories and realizing things about themselves and their patterns by listening.

What do you hear right now?
What do you feel in your body when you think about just listening without trying to help, fix or give advice to the other?

I share some more thoughts on listening in the video below:

Love, Tuulia

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