Sunday, July 26, 2020

A lesson in listening

Lots of words swirl around us all right now: scary headlines, angry quotes, rude social media comments and insults. It’s hitting all of us from all sides and while some of these words definitely need to be said, my question is are they being heard? Are the right people listening? 

I read a wonderful piece by Martha Beck on listening. And how the overwhelming amount of information right now can drive you to turn off, listen less when what’s needed is to listen more. Her idea of listening is something more than just using your ears. 

4 Levels of Listening. 

Martha Beck breaks down the seemingly simple act of listening into 4 levels that involve your whole

Level One is ear listening. You hear something, perhaps scary, and you leap into survival mode.  Conflicts jump to the surface instead of cooperation and compassion. 

Level Two is body listening. The scary words cause a reaction in your body. Noticing it, breathing into it, you can help your body stay calm. This helps you notice the truth of the situation and understand your feelings and the feelings of others. 


Level Three is heart listening. Once the body relaxes, discernment happens and you can use your heart to lean in or out of the situation. According to Beck, “check to see whether your heart wants to move forward or to back off. When you’re being lied to, you may feel an inexplicable desire to move away, even to literally run. When someone is telling the truth, even though the words may be hard to hear, you’ll feel a softening and opening in your chest, a desire to hear and understand more.”

Level Four is soul listening. Beck describes this type of listening as, “a  bolt of love flows through me and toward everyone around me. It’s two aspects of one consciousness connecting, hearing our shared experience in separate bodies.” And with this type of listening a connection is made. Even if you don’t agree with the words or person, soul listening allows you to see their confusion or pain. You don’t have to change your mind in the midst of fear or prejudice, you can listen with less fear, more awareness and compassion. 

In Martha’s words, “When I listen with my ears, body, and heart, my soul is available to hear the wise voices of millions who refuse to give in to fear and bitterness. Their aim is to create a world that is safe, just and happy for all of us.”

Now these are words, I need to not just hear but listen to and act on. 

With my whole body, heart and soul. 

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