Basking in the yoga glow from a hard flow, resting my wrists on my knees, sitting up straight, I dropped into meditation. For most of us, meditation is a constant practice of recognizing thoughts and letting them go. The basement was quiet, except for the ticking clock. I tuned into the clock. I tuned into my breath. Sometimes I would catch myself thinking about something and then bring my mind back to the clock and the breath. When I was thinking, the clock was quieter. When I was not thinking, the clock was louder. Now we all know that the clock’s volume didn’t change, what changed was my attention.

When I am 100% focused in this moment, my listening improves. Mama said that God gave us two ears and one mouth because we are supposed to listen twice as much as we speak. How many of us are not listening but just waiting for the other person to stop talking, so we have our turn to speak?

Most all of my frustrations come from trying to make the other person see my point, to just listen to me, dammit. The less the other person listens, the more I speak, the more I speak, the less I listen. What started as a conversation between two people becomes two people talking and no one listening. What would happen if we slowed down long enough actually to listen to what was being said?

When we listen, we drastically cut miscommunication. We begin to understand one another. As a result, tolerance, and kindness naturally bloom.

As you all know by now, I’m not an expert or a trained anything; I’m just a person like you who is trying to grow emotionally and spiritually. Here’s how I continue to hone my listening skills.

Shut up.
Really. Just shut up.

Tune in.
What sounds are happening around me? As I write this, I can hear tapping from my fingers on the keyboard, birds outside, and the neighbor’s weed wacker.

Practice listening alone.
Like was mentioned at the beginning, I listened to the ticking clock as practice. You can listen to anything. Sometimes I’ll listen to a song that I know by heart and try and find something that I may not have heard before.

When you’re in a conversation, listen to what the other person is saying. Try to understand not only the words but also their point of view. Before you speak, think. Think about what they said, then think about how to respond.
I googled a helpful acronym.

Listening isn’t just a communication skill; it’s also part of a spiritual practice.

It’s humility. When we humble ourselves, we are in a position to learn and grow. Just because we’ve reached adulthood doesn’t mean that we’re done learning and growing. There are unbearable “know-it-all’s” out there who think that they have it all figured out. I know, because I’m one of them! I share this stuff with you because it’s helped me to let go of my “know-it-all” attitude. Learning to listen has improved my relationships, allowed me to be more comfortable in my skin, and created a kinder space in my mind. If it works for me, maybe it will work for you too.

Just for today
I will shut up and listen.
When I find myself thinking about what I plan to say next, I’ll gently bring my mind back to listen fully.

I can’t change my whole way of being by merely deciding. My willpower is simply not that strong. I confess that I’ve been self-absorbed. Give me ears to hear those things that are important to you. Help me to honor those you love by granting them a patient listener.

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