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“I am guided by spiritual practices I don’t name as such: generosity, the impulse to give as much of myself as I can, respect for the beliefs of others, non-judgment, support and devotion to the simplest forms of life … Listening is also part of my practice … “ – Alma For Ada, IN SWEET COMPANY: CONVERSATIONS WITH EXTRAORDINARY WOMEN ABOUT LIVING A SPIRITUAL LIFE
Reading Kay’s books on listening, I found myself thinking that most of the time, listening has more to do with waiting until it’s our turn to talk –“getting a word in edgewise” — than taking what the other says to heart. We “hear” with our ears, but we don’t always listen with our hearts.
Listening actually has roots in spiritual practice — being attentive for, to, the voice of God, tuning into the great Aum vibration, opening to the music of the Universe, to The Comforter, to The Silence. When our ears grow accustomed to the sounds of cell phones, TV’s, and gangsta rap, we lose the ability to notice our inner voice, to be aware of what others don’t say, to be at peace in The Quiet.
We don’t have to agree with everything we hear; it’s more than likely we won’t. But, If we pay attention to or honor only what we agree with, we miss the opportunity to expand our knowing. As the Persian poet Hafiz once said, “How do I listen to others? As if everyone were my Master speaking to me.”
Whether your intention is to listen to another, listen to your Inner Wisdom or listen to the Universal Hum, here are a few tips that may deepen that communion:
- Set aside your thoughts, expectations, agenda and timeline.
- Relax your body. Take a few deep breaths to slow yourself down.
- Be aware of your body language. (Hands folded? Closed fists? Crossed legs?)
- Determine, commit, to being fully there. Focus.
- Listen to learn, to understand, to appreciate, to enjoy, to connect.
- Listen for the feelings beneath the words.
- Listen without assumptions or judgments, without the need to accomplish, prove or justify.
- Be sincere. Smile. Open your heart.
Listening in this manner has other benefits: It activates your neural network and helps you create synapses, connections, within yourself and in the world. It helps you become sensitive to expanded levels of consciousness within yourself and the world. It helps you interact more harmoniously within yourself and the world. It helps you become more Self-reliant. Sacred listening is about “being” rather than “doing.” “Getting a word in edgewise” is from the ego. Discussion and debate are from the head. Real dialog and conversation — inner and outer — are from the heart. Any way you look at it, Sacred Listening is about love.