In order to listen that way, you can’t be doing two things at once. You can’t ask someone a question, then pop up mid-answer to go do something you forgot to do while they attempt to answer. You can’t drive in a car, or do the dishes, or be planning the next thing you’re going to say. That’s not really listening or even hearing, for that matter.
This is such a challenge for me, especially the car thing. I love talking on the phone in the car. But I’m aware of the difference of the calls I make from home when I’m sitting in my chair just listening. I’m so much more present to hear the person on all planes when I’m not dividing my attention. And I want to be that person that really hears, that listens to the words, the heart, the subtext of what the person is saying. I just tell myself this myth which says I must multitask to get the list done.
My favorite time on earth is to sit with a very good listener who doesn’t interrupt, but who really tunes into the same frequency. That’s where communication happens. And I think about what kind of world this could be if more people communicated this way. What kind of discoveries we would make.
But the more stimulation that comes from the constant barrage of technology and access to things, the less that seems likely without conscious movement in that direction. We wear our busyness like first place prize ribbons and pretend we don’t actually create it all ourselves. We see ourselves as so indispensable. It all depends on us.
The busyness has a clear secondary gain. We don’t have to get quiet and really ask ourselves what the hell we are doing here on this earth and why. We can’t. We’re too busy. We’ll stick that on tomorrow’s list when we retire.
Through my many years of practicing Martial Arts, yoga, meditation and writing, I have come to see that quiet time as my life line to listening, both to the Universe at large and to each other. On the Universe side for example, I have been seeing the numbers 11:11 for the past four months. I told my husband, “Why everytime I look at the clock does it say 11:11? What’s it mean?”
Then, last week I was waiting at the dentist for my hygenist to be ready and decided to stack up some podcasts in my Podcast box. I went to a new category: religion and spirituality. There it was: 11:11 Talk Radio. Not even kidding. Turns out people all over the world are seeing these numbers. According to this site, it signifies opening consciousness. There’s even 11:11 jewelry! I followed the trail and loved where it took me.
On an individual side, I can pick up much more information about what’s really going on in somebody’s soul when I’m sitting one-on-one and focusing only on them. I’m making a very conscious effort to make the time to do this more and more, starting with settling my own mind down, which always thinks it needs the floor.
One step I took to work on this settling thing was to do a “Spring Cleaning” meditation retreat last week with a guide from Mt. Shasta. For five hours, we sat in silence and meditated in a group of 10. We did a combination of sitting and walking meditations in nature, including in a labyrinthe. The most interesting thing happened. In my second walking meditation, I walked through a forest down to a creek. The tall green grasses of spring were speckled with blue dickies and yellow wild flowers. I had taken this same trail on the first walking meditation, but this time I went intentionally very slow (painfully slow), very consciously moving breath in and out.
The result was fascinating. I saw more. The colors were brighter. My heart filled with joy and peace as I smiled at the simplicity of it all, and the mind-boggling majesty of the whole scene. The whole Universe was singing to me and and I was list-zenning. My rewards were far greater than any I ever get on social media.
On a podcast I listened to yesterday, a woman–who was touting the importance of really listening to each other–said that in her work with serial killers, many of whom were sociopaths, she asked them what they got out of killing 10, 30, 50 people. She said across the board they said that the only time in their entire lives they ever felt heard was right before they killed somebody.
That made me sad. If somebody listened, maybe their paths could have taken a different turn. Everybody deserves to be heard regularly. Everybody deserves to know how to listen well. My dream for humanity is that when asked the questions when have you really listened and when have you really listened to someone else the answer will be just now.