There is nothing more wonderful than someone really listening to you. Really listening means having your heart 100% present. It’s an empathic connection to the person who is speaking. It’s a lot different than simply hearing words.
There are a trillion distractions that prevent us from actively listening. Here are some common ones:
Thinking of the next thing you’re going to say while someone is talking.
Using a person’s words to do a word-association exercise in your head about yourself.
Thinking of the next thing you’re going to do, or should be doing instead of listening.
Losing figure-ground by not staying focused and simply being distracted by random stimuli in the environment and within yourself.
In our culture, eye contact is a critical piece of listening. Facial acknowledgement and body posture go along with eye contact. The result of not realizing the effects of mindful presence on communication is that many of us feel discounted and unimportant. We feel that no one is listening, so we stop singing our heart songs.
The pace of life, communication devices that both connect and separate us, virtual worksites with phone conferencing, all detract from the most critical aspect of human communication; bringing one’s full being into the interpersonal space.
Try this exercise:
Make eye contact and smile at people whether you know them or not. If this is done with an open heart, people won’t think you’re a weirdo!
Connect with people through their dogs and their babies. People are far less inhibited when talking about beings that give unconditional love.
Practice smiling and looking at yourself in the mirror. Say kind things to yourself about your appearance and your intentions.
Realize that all of us simply want to be accepted. Those who appear otherwise have erected a self-protective wall that makes them seem unapproachable. How sad that the very protection we seek also shuts out the love that we long for.
We will all be experiencing heightened connection over the holiday season. Talk less and listen more. Listen mindfully and be fully present. Put down the alcohol and open your heart. The winter holidays that celebrate light and enlightenment can also be the birth of mindful listening.