I think we’re always listening to some extent or other. Not just to words, music, sounds, but we also intuitively pick up signals others give off through facial expressions and body language.
Some signals are obvious like “Don’t talk to me”, “Get out of my way” or “I want a hug”.
But others are barely perceptible.
So what if, next time you’re in conversation with someone, or perhaps before you meet them, you try this...
Slow down. Bring your attention to your body. Maybe start with your breath. Sense the air as it makes contact with your nostrils, through your nasal cavity, past your larynx, and down your trachea. You may have already done this a few times while reading this. Maybe you can sense your lungs rise and fall, your diaphragm contract and relax.
You’re not changing or forcing anything here. You’re listening with your attention to your body doing its miraculous, automatic thing.
With more awareness of the body, you may adjust your position. Maybe tensions start to release. You are relaxed and all is well.
It’s a bit like tuning a musical instrument or warming up muscles before exercise.
Now you're ready to listen.
And so when in conversation, the whole of you is very alert.
Can you sense the tension in the other person?
Why are they standing or sitting that way?
Are their eyes relaxed?
Why are they saying that?
What is it they’re really trying to say?
How can you help them express it?
How will they feel heard?
All along you remain aware of your own relaxed nature. You sense their state and gently allow any frustrated energy to pass through. They feel they could say and ask absolutely anything and it will be honoured. They start to listen inside as well and between you space expands. Eventually, this clear underlying well-being is revealed as much greater - truly vast - and any apparent “problem” loses its dominance.
“Oh yeah,” they might say, with a relaxed smile.
And now, free of any “needs” or “shoulds” maybe some playful perspectives and solutions can emerge.
And if they don’t that’s OK too because all is well right now.
You “upgrade your listening” to borrow a phrase from the brilliant Alan D. Thomson, and you change their world. Your world expands too.
It's a beautiful invitation. Why not give this gift to someone today?