“Nature gave us one tongue and two ears so we could hear twice as much as we speak.”Epictetus
We are in a time of great change, change that is long overdue. As these systemic patterns are unraveling and we are examining not only the societal structures that need an overhaul but our very own, the process can feel overwhelming. We wonder, with so much that needs to evolve, where do we start?
We start by educating ourselves, by keeping up on current events and relearning what we thought we knew of history. We start by voting with our dollars—supporting organizations that share our values. We start by voting in elections to change our laws and government funding. And we start with cultivating empathy, by allowing the feelings of others to penetrate. If you feel like your “empathy center” has been shut down from years of being overwhelmed with too many feelings, you’re not alone. Many of us feel so much that we’ve learned to cope by not feeling anything at all. If you feel like you hear so much that you’ve just started blocking things out, that act of shutting down can start to affect your relationships.
One way to bring your sensitivity back is to start a listening practice. Becoming a better listener is a micro act that can have a ripple effect. Here a few tips to get started.
- Using the Glo Meditation Timer, sit down with someone who you want to improve communication with. Set the timer for 5 minutes and invite your friend to start speaking.
- Just listen. Don’t think of responses. Don’t counter-point their ideas in your mind. Just listen and be curious about what they are saying.
- Listen deeply. Listen not only to their words but to their tone, their pacing, their pitch, their melody—the song of their expression.
- Listen not only with your ears but with your whole being. Watch their body language, their hands, their facial expressions, their breathing pattern.
- Listen to what is NOT being said, what is specifically being left out. Sometimes what is not said is more important than what is said.
- Face your speaker with open body language and maintain eye contact. Show them that you are paying attention, that your mind hasn’t drifted to something else.
- In this practice—don’t switch. You aren’t practicing being heard, you’re practicing listening.
- When your friend is done, thank them for sharing.
Being truly heard and understood is one of the best feelings in the world and a gift that you can give to those who matter to you. This simple act of listening is one small way that you can begin to make a difference: in yourself, in those around you, for everyone, everywhere.
If you’d like to develop your practice even further, try our Become a Better Listener collection. The classes are meant to help you build essential listening skills that can deepen your bonds and expand the lens through which you see the world.