I received this lovely note from our dear friend Mary Anne Flanagan at Toning the Om today. I am thankful for her constant wisdom in her communications to me. Listening has been difficult for me lately because of the inner chatter of my monkey mind. Yet, listening is what I do, and do well, as a coach. I love the concept of listening to the essence of the person, not just the words that are coming out of their mouths. Listening for the “words” underneath the words that tell you the feelings, emotions, and monkey mind your client, friend, or family member have invested in the story they are telling you.
I offer to share this lovely letter from Mary Anne – so that you too may close your eyes and listen with your heart instead of your ears.
As I stood in the subway car, a lady started talking to me and I realized after a few moments I had stopped listening. She was complaining about the delays and it seemed like she would never stop talking. By the time I reached my office, I realized I heard what she was saying, but not really listening to what she was saying.
There are days when listening seems more difficult – due to the noises outside and all the chatter going on inside. Some of my best listening happens when I am using my whole body – when I can let go of any response of what I need to say and just listen.
As Peter Senge says, “To listen fully means to pay close attention to what is being said beneath the words. You listen not only to the ‘music,’ but to the essence of the person speaking. You listen not only for what someone knows, but for what he or she is. Ears operate at the speed of sound, which is far slower than the speed of light the eyes take in. Generative listening is the art of developing deeper silences in yourself, so you can slow our mind’s hearing to your ears’ natural speed, and hear beneath the words to their meaning.”
When we are truly listening, we become present to all that is around us. Noise can transform into sounds. Listening requires us to pay attention and gives us the ability to have greater focus. Are you willing to listen below the noises?
Practice: Close your eyes, take a soft breath, and listen to the sounds surrounding you. Can you hear the leaves, the birds, or a sunrise? What is your heart saying?
And remember the advice of Native American seers: speak only half as much as you listen.
Life is speaking, are you listening?