Many commonly regard the words “hearing” and “listening” as synonyms. But the truth is they are not the same at all.
In the buzz of a vast information network that bombards the human consciousness with a combination of tantalizing mind-candy and instant sense gratification, we are being pressured to adapt by developing shorter attention spans. In the wake of this circus of data, are we actually paying attention to the information that we are moving at an astounding rate? In becoming “super-efficient,” are we forgetting how to really listen and therefore connect to the depth of the world around us?
Many commonly regard the words “hearing” and “listening” as synonyms. But the truth is they are not the same at all. Though “hearing” is the sense by which sound is perceived, “listening,” on the other hand, is defined by making an effort to hear something and taking the time to heed and/or pay attention to what you are hearing. This is an important distinction.
The art of listening with awareness is becoming less common in today’s faced-paced, info-mover society, but it is a vital empathic skill that is rooted in consciousness and needs attention and practice to be developed. When mastered, this way of “receiving” can create a sense of true connection. How you take in information and what perspective you listen from can transform the overall experience of your reality.
When there is little awareness in the quality of your listening, “by default” you function from a fairly unconscious, narrow bandwidth of your being which only offers a superficial perspective and lack of substance. This trend has translated into the desire to acquire ridiculous amounts of information and to obsessively “share” this data in a manner that can never be truly fulfilling. The solution is not about quantity of data but instead its quality. And the quality of your listening directly determines the quality of your integration and communication of that information.
Consider these tips when developing the quality of your listening:
All awareness needs space to flourish. Choose to listen to everything with a perspective of space and pause for reflection. This allows you to have a greater ability to respond rather than react. The difference between responding and reacting to anything is a simple pause of space that allows you to make a choice rooted in awareness.
Listen to your feelings. Be aware of how you feel. If you are listening to this powerful field of influence within you, it will reveal your conscious/unconscious relationship to past issues, dynamics, blockages, and unhealthy and outdated belief systems that create your triggers and may need your attention. It also reveals powerful clues to an expansive connection to yourself and the world around you.
Be present in the moment. Pay attention. So many tolerate “listening” until they get their moment to say something. This is not really listening; it is just waiting for your chance to speak. How can you be present with another person and actively listen if you are already consumed with your next thought in the immediate future? The ability to connect and respond to anything requires space to absorb what is being said and this deeper listening can be the difference between talking ‘to’ someone instead of talking ‘at’ someone.
Listen without an agenda. Often there is a predetermined agenda that filters your ability to connect. Listen from an open space with no plans, tactics, or predetermined judgment about the situation or experience. Notice how many of your encounters are just about acquiring data to justify a position to which you are invested. When this happens you may be missing out to the potential richness that is present for you.
Listen without trying to acquire anything. When you are listening from the limitation of the superficial mind, there is often a desire to try to acquire something – to add something to your repertoire, find the answer, or collect more data. There is a misconception on the spiritual path that we need to acquire: more systems, information, techniques or truths. Instead, these pieces of data are merely stepping stones to point you within, where everything you need is already present. Acquire nothing and discover everything.
Listen without the need to understand. Let go of trying to grasp everything. Sometimes it is more powerful to “put it on the back burner.” This leaves space to connect those dots and for realization to arise from within you. The “need to understand,” can diminish your ability to listen, feel, and integrate the inherent transmission present. Yes, it is necessary to understand, because when we do, it helps to soften and release the mind, which allows for more expansion. But release the desperate “need” to understand at the expense of deeper listening from beyond the mind… Listen with your heart.
Human beings are multidimensional receivers, absorbing a vast array of information from multiple realms of consciousness. Some of these “stations” that we listen to are very obvious, but some are very subtle. Don’t settle on what is obvious. Focus your intention, listen deeper, expand your bandwidth and explore the different and more subtle frequencies of awareness. The more deeply you refine your skills, the more access you will have to a vast network of information that can transform your perspective and connection to your inner and outer world… but only if you are willing to listen.
You will notice the more you are truly listening from your heart, the more you are able to hear.