Listening as a Spiritual Practice

By | January 22, 2013

conversation“The first duty of love is to listen.”
-         Paul Tillich

We have the most amazing instruments attached to our heads that are capable of absorbing the most precious sounds, melodies, whispers, and tone – but we don’t use them very well. It’s true our gifts are many, and rarely used to their fullest, for example, with our gift of listening we can make a huge difference in someone else’s life or we can receive the most intimate offerings from a lovingly Divine message. But if you were to describe what you did with your gift of listening today, what would you say? You heard the noise, you listened to your wife/husband complaints, you heard your favorite song on the radio.

listen onlyListening as a spiritual practice has both a receiving and a giving benefit, as do most of our other gifts. Listening is an important portal to receive deep divine intuition and guidance. You must be in a state of listening to receive these messages, (this may or may not include actually having the ability to hear with our ears), which means that your mind must be stilled and at rest, and your heart must be open and free of resistance. In order to be a good listener from the Universal Source, we learn to listen first by what our listening can “give” to others. Through the acts of lovingly listening, we begin to hear the messages that are intended for our spiritual ears only.

listenGiving someone our full attention to listen to what they have to say or express with their body and emotions is one of the most loving and compassionate gifts we can give. But just lending your ear is not enough. To truly listen to the other, you must quiet your inner response triggers, which tends to focus more on your responses and your interpretation of what is being heard, then allowing the other to open themselves to you fully through their talking or expression.

The spiritual practice of listening requires that you direct your total attention to whatever or whomever you intend to listen to. When deciding to listen to someone else, drop what you are doing and thinking and allow yourself to be an open vessel to the message your speaker is sending out.

listen 1This is not the time to judge or analyze the person on whether their wants and needs are best for them or not, it is a time to give them love and compassion through the act of listening. Advice may be fine from time to time, although I’d wager those that are most apt to give it, need a good dose of it themselves, but in the case of spiritual listening, this is an act of service that requires few or no words because it has nothing to do with you being heard, but is only about serving others.

The practice of spiritually listening to others should be practiced every day with a multitude of people in your life. Additionally, listen to voices of those that normally get you to respond vehemently, but this time, listen with a “new” ear. When you listen to others that share a different viewpoint from you, truly listen, you may discover a new perspective you had not considered before or at a minimum you may feel a new found empathy and understanding of their position. And don’t forget to listen to what is going on around you, in nature or in music, with your pets, or what you body is telling you – for spiritual listening provides you with a much deeper and richer experience with all these things.

African American mother and daughter talking together with copyspace at homeFrom the very small children to the elders in your life, give your attention and your love to lift them up by your sincere and totally committed act of listening. During your intent to listen with your spiritual earphones on – put your ego and your own needs aside and simply listen.

Here is the good news about this practice – you live and experience both physically, metaphysically, and spiritually what you reflect out. If you don’t really listen to others, it is probably because you believe that you are not truly listened to either. This isn’t about a God who is handing out listening chips to those that are good or bad, Divine Love is always fully giving. It is our belief about whether our voice and the associated wants/desires/needs are being listened too. This is what causes us to have the trigger happy response lined up the minute we enter into a conversation. Some of us cannot even wait until the other person finishes before we blast out our responses. Our ego admonishes “We must be heard” and then we think the best way to get heard is to force the words onto the other person. Sometimes this exchange is subtle and relatively harmless (except to us), but many times, this shutting off others to make ourselves heard is nothing more than verbal bullying.

By practicing the art and true gift of really listening to others with our spiritual ear, we begin to realize by our service, that our voices are heard too! But it is not because we have to get the last word it, or shout the loudest.

yoga sunsetThe spiritual practice of listening to others is the “practice” for spiritual listening for ourselves. When we begin to be good spiritual listeners, which means that we are present, aware, open and in a receiving state of mind, then when it is time for us to be still and listen to our own life’s direction, guidance, and intuition, we are able to hear it! I love the thought of developing a spiritual practice that teaches ME how to be more spiritual aware and attuned to the Divine while loving and giving to others.

“It is one of the most beautiful compensations of life, that no man can sincerely try to help another without helping himself.”

-         Ralph Waldo Emerson


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