Listening Meditation Part 2: Listening as a Meditation Practice

When we are unable to listen, we are unable to practice true mindfulness and this means that we are unable to be in the present moment. Real listening requires us to truly feel and care. These qualities are the foundations of compassion. Real listening helps us to keep our self-perception balanced. Not allowing ourselves to become egocentric, self-absorbed, thus enabling us to maintain a healthy self-perception.

Meditation trains us to be good listeners. Through practice we learn how to hold our seat in silence and in stillness and we do so with whatever distractions we may be experiencing. We practice focusing the light of our consciousness where we want it and for as long as we want it there; this is needed in real listening. We focus our consciousness on receiving rather than doing.

Through meditation we develop the dynamic qualities of healthy engagement and self-assurance which enable us to grow.

Distractions to Good Listening
  1. When our mind is focused on an aspect of ourselves rather than another.

  2. When we care more about our own thoughts rather than the others.

  3. When we allow past memories or fantasies to rob us of the present moment.

  4. When we allow concerns or future fears to interfere with our present act of listening.

  5. These problems all can develop and occur quite unconsciously. This is why mindfulness is so important when listening.

Consequences of Poor Listening
  1. We lose connectivity. We find ourselves gradually isolating ourselves from meaningful relationships and experiences with others. We lose our appreciation for human contact.

  2. We are less available to new stimuli; we learn less when we are not fully engaged with others and the world around us.

  3. We simply miss out on a large percentage of our own life. By neglecting to listen to others and the world around us, we miss out on much of life’s experiences. Quite possibly we could miss out on the experience of what it means to be truly alive.

Steps we can take to become better listeners:

  1. When engaging with others in conversation, put them first. Focus your ear faculty on the other person and their speech. Be specific in your listening so that it is not divided.

  2. Relax into a listening mode. For various reasons, we may carry tension into a particular conversation or listening experience (fear or trust may become a blockage for us). Take a moment to consciously check in with yourself to relax when you begin to focus on a listening experience.

  3. Check in momentarily with your body posture as you would before a meditation practice. Listen to your body first, it may have something to tell you.

  4. Take a deep breath (full inhale and exhale) or focus momentarily on the breath before engaging in a listening experience. The breath (specifically in Hara) will always help us to calm and get centred.

  5. Become like the deer in our illustration; practice keen attentiveness and calm abiding whenever we have the privilege to listen.

The Benefits of Listening

Even brief moments of genuine listening can uplift our lives. Helping us to connect with others on a much deeper level, thus we can find ourselves feeling less introverted, lonely or isolated in the world.

  1. Developing the art of listening helps us come out of our own insecurities and self-absorption.

  2. We develop greater maturity; one must be truly mature to let go of the ego and sincerely care about others.

  3. Listening encourages us to be brave by exposing our vulnerability. At times, we won’t alway like what we hear.

  4. We become more patient people. Some things we hear might seem mundane, maybe boring, even irritating.

  5. We will become increasingly more perceptive and actually more effective communicators.

There are so many good qualities we can develop by truly listening. It is a static or stillness practice. Stillness and receptivity are an essential part of good listening and yet it is dynamic, we must apply ourselves to being focused and that it is an active practice. It is a combination of engagement with intention and stillness with acceptance, a state of psychological reciprocity. This is why I call it listening meditation. It’s a meditation practice we can incorporate into our daily lives.

About the author: Donald Francis is a meditation teacher and freelance writer. Incorporates art, music, poetry and literature into his teaching and makes meditation interesting and relevant to everyone. He lives in London, England.

Photo Credit: "Listen" by Celine Nadeau is licensed under CC BY 2.0 / Resized from original.

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Sangha Without Borders is currently physically located in London, UK