Do you have the urge to tell people exactly what is on your mind all the time? Have you thought about if you may be afraid of silence? Or to see who you truly are? In conversations with your friends, colleagues, and family members. Do you think about what you are going to say next when he or she is talking? Why do we welcome these distractions into our lives on a daily basis? My main question is why are we so afraid of silencing the mind. Through meditative awareness we can develop clarity of mind, we can find solutions to our challenges and more importantly we learn how to live a more compassionate life. Who wouldn’t want that? I sure do, that’s why I practice attentive listening, at least I try. I’m aware that I am not in any sense perfect or have found the elixir of listening. But this is how I would also love to be listened to if my heart can express what it holds. I would love to have a dear friend or my love to listen with their whole presence.
In Kundalini Yoga we also have deep listening, Yogi Bhajan often spoke about the importance of Sunni-ai, which translates as hearing or listening. Its importance suggests, “deep listening”. It means hearing the sounds, the words, the subtlety- all that is below the surface – at the same time. Sunni ai is intuition applied to listening.
The very first time I heard about deep listening, was from the well-known Zen Buddhist teacher, global spiritual leader, poet, and peace activist, Thich Nhat Hanh. He was interviewed by Oprah Winfrey on her SuperSoul Sunday talk show. Where he introduced me to attentive listening.
I’ve read a couple of books by Thich Nhat Hanh already, Being Peace is one of my favorites as his simple techniques to include mindfulness in our day to day lives resonates with how I want to live my life. Peace and balance are something we all try to include more of in our lives. Some may find it hard to even know where to begin, so this is the reason behind my blog post. How to help you become a more mindful listener towards those you love and care about.
“Breathing in, I calm body and mind. Breathing out, I smile. Dwelling in the present moment I know this is the only moment.”
― Thich Nhat Hanh, Being Peace
So how can we begin to be more passionately present at this very moment?
Oprah begins the opening scene and asks Hanh about what he does in stressful events.
Hanh continues to say; I go back to my breathing and try to be in that moment deeply because there is a possibility to handle every kind of event and the essential is to keep the peace in yourself. Oprah brings up his book where he has written about deep listening. Thich Nhat Hanh continues to talk about how compassionate listening can relieve the suffering of the other person.
“Deep listening is the kind of listening that can help relieve the suffering of the other person. You can call it compassionate listening, you listen with only one purpose, that is to help him or her to empty his heart and if you remember that you are helping him or her to suffer less, then even if he says things full of wrong perceptions, full of bitterness. You are still able to continue to listen with compassion because you know that listening like that with compassion, give him or her a chance to suffer less. If you want to help him or her to correct his perception, then you wait for another time. But for this time being, you just listen with compassion and help him or her to suffer less. And one hour like that can bring transformation and healing” Thich Nhat Hanh says in the video.
Allow That Person to Speak Out
Often times when people come to you to really vent their emotions we would want someone to truly listen to us. Most often they respond to us immediately and give us all sorts of advice and take over the situation. But if we allowed that person to speak out and tell us everything that was on their mind or heart we could truly be present for them and make the best out of the situation.
You can watch the excerpt of the video where Oprah Winfrey interviews Thich Nhat Hanh here.
Arriving in the Present Moment
How essential isn’t to lose your distractions of mind and arrive fully in the present moment. This quote by Thich Nhat Hanh is such a beautiful reminder to stay here exactly where you are, without thoughts about the past or the future. But actively and mindfully take part of your surroundings. With the direct and compassionate listening techniques given by Hanh above, I try my best to practice this every day with my boyfriend. I stay focused on his words and remind myself that I am here for him to either relieve his suffering or when he shares joy and happiness. Being present also means that you are cultivating compassion towards the other person as for your self when you stay in the moment.
You are more than welcome to comment and share your experiences of “The Art of Listening”. Mindful tip to ask yourself is “how do I listen to those I care about?” “Am I present in the moment?”
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Thanks for reading!
Tiaga Nihal Kaur,