Heartful listening is an active and embodied process of sustaining focused attention on the speaker, in the absence of one’s ego.
Active because I am filtering out distractions (i) from the immediate external environment (including my phone), and (ii) arising internally from my own biases and filters.
Embodied because I am attending to tone of voice, somatic expressions, and word patterns. Often I find it useful to alternate between listening with my eyes closed (but still facing the speaker), and looking intently at the speaker, for brief moments.
The above is more likely to be achieved when my ego’s not around because it means I’m less inclined to judge, categorise, become impatient, or succumb to the temptation to “be right”.
Heartful listening often involves:
- Letting silence “speak”, i.e. a pause is not always a reason for me to speak. Sometimes, silence is the space where the speaker needs to process certain emotions, or decide whether to go deeper, or is searching for words.
- The art of reflection (not parroting). That’s when I reflect (like the surface of water) back what I heard to check for understanding, and to let the speaker know that I have in fact been listening. Click here for a simple how-to guide.
- Adopting a relaxed and welcoming posture. Heck, throw in a smile! Just because heartful listening is serious business doesn’t mean you need to look all sombre and serious. A sprinkle of lightness goes a long way to soothe a troubled soul.
In the presence of heartful listening, a few things happen (to the speaker):
- People speak with their hearts, and that’s when their innermost voice feel safer to emerge.
- “Cups are emptied”, and thus make room for alternatives they were previously unwillingly to let into their hearts.
- People gradually begin to listen to themselves, and this is the most precious gift of all.
By the way, all the above can be practiced by you, on yourself, as well 😊 It can also be practiced on someone you disagree with. Try it. It may not be as radical as you may think.
PS. If you are curious about how I came to compassion, click here 🌹