shh.  learn to listen

Today we ask that you learn to listen.

It is a wonderful ability, listening.

Very few people can do it.

In order to be a good listener, you must be able to quiet the chattering voice of your thoughts.

You must be present, in the here and now.  You must not be lost in your imagined projections of future and past.

You must not “multi-task.”  You cannot check your email and listen at the same time.

Everyone loves a good listener.

Children always love adults who truly listen to them.  Very few adults truly know how to listen to children.  They are busy, and distracted.  They run their agendas with children.   Play cannot just be play — it must have a “purpose,” it must be a teaching exercise.

An adult who can truly listen to a child can just sit with a child, with no agenda.  Such an adult isn’t caught up in his thoughts and judgments, and so can play with a child with all the freshness and presence of a child.

Children adore such adults.

Animals, too, gravitate toward people who know how to listen to them.  To be a “Dog Whisperer” or a “Horse Whisperer” is really to be a Dog Listener, or a Horse Listener.

Animals do not communicate in human language, but they clearly communicate.  If you are a good listener, you will understand them.

It is the same with all things.

A good listener knows how to listen to his own body.  He can hear if the body is approaching exhaustion, or illness, and take action to honor the body’s needs — thus preventing further exhaustion or illness.  A good listener to the body sees physical symptoms not as annoyances or problems, but as useful information.

A good listener can hear even the plants, or inanimate objects.  If you are silent enough, you can hear the voices of the trees and stones.  All the old shamans understood this.

A good listener is also a good speaker.

How can you speak well, and truly communicate, if you cannot listen to other people?

And yet this is the absurd predicament most people are in.  Most adults are poor listeners, and yet cannot stop talking.  So this world is full of chattering people who aren’t really communicating.  They are merely talking to themselves.  Instead of a dialogue, you have two people delivering monologues at each other.  

In such an environment, people scream and shout to be heard.  They post on Facebook and Twitter to be heard.  Every few minutes, they broadcast their mental chatter to the world.

And still, they do not feel truly listened to.

If you are someone who does not feel like you are being heard, the most useful thing you can do is cultivate your own ability to listen.

Listen.  Listen to your body.  Listen to your soul.

Listen to the people around you.  Not what they are saying, but what is underneath their words.  That is the real gift — hearing what lies beneath other people’s mental chatter.  Usually it sounds something like: “I am afraid, and I feel unloved.”

If you become a good listener, all doors will be open to you.

Everyone loves a good listener.