“Deep listening can help relieve the suffering of another person. You listen with only one purpose: to help him or her to empty his heart. Even if he says things that are full of wrong perceptions, full of bitterness, you are still capable of continuing to listen with compassion. Because you know that listening like this gives that person a chance to suffer less. If you want to help him to correct his perception, you wait for another time. For now, you don’t interrupt. You don’t argue. If you do, he loses the chance to be heard. You just listen with compassion and help him to suffer less. One hour like that can bring transformation and healing”
~Thich Nhat Hanh
Dang. That sounds almost impossible, doesn’t it? But among the thousand things 2020 has taught me so far, it is that I am not right. And coming from a person who has a pretty big need to be right, that’s saying a lot.
One of my life lessons this year is learning to be a better listener. I am learning so much as I open my ears and heart to being a student of life. Granted, on social media it’s a lot harder. There is no listening there. Just a lot of screaming keyboards. But in person-to-person conversations I find that when I listen, things just shift between two people.
The other lesson I am learning is when to speak up, and when I need to speak what I believe to be truth. This is also hard for me, a person who has always been a pleaser, and has not only shied away from disagreement, but RAN from any sign of it.
So where is the line? When do we speak up, say what is in our heart, share our truth? And when do we zip it, and listen?
I have no answers. No wise advice. But I do know this. The body knows. When I take a deep breath, exhale, pause and feel, I now how to proceed. I can tell if what is coming at me is going to move me, and the other person, forward. There is an expansion in the body when I am hearing another person speak from their heart. I know that this is one of those times. Time to listen, allow another to talk, and be relieved of their suffering.
I also know that my body constricts when I am exposed to negativity, propaganda, untruth and conspiracy theory. I don’t have the time, energy the bandwidth to listen to much of that. My body and my soul knows it’s toxic. When the conversation turns down that road, I feel the tightening in my gut. In my throat. Around my heart. I am learning to find a quick and peaceful exit.
This has been one helluva a year so far folks. Here’s to more lessons…