Think of time you were conversing with someone. As you talked with them, you noticed the lights were on, but nobody was home. You may say they were in la la land or daydreaming. When was the last time you got the blank stare from someone? We have all probably experienced chatting with a friend or having a discussion with our spouse only to realize they are off in another world. We may ask, “Did you hear me”? They quickly respond with, “Huh, yeah.” Parents sometimes experience this when they are correcting their teenager. The teenager rolls the eyes or looks everywhere else except for in the eyes of their parent. All too often this happens. Not only has it happened to us, but we have also done it to others The following (5) tips toward developing your gift of compassionate listening. Put these into practice today to change your life and to help others.
Listen to someone else’s rough patch, without an agenda of your own, without reacting or trying to solve their problem. For example, just yesterday, I became overwhelmed and felt myself getting completely caught up in the stress cycle of negative thinking. Thankfully, my husband was there with a quiet, deep hug and the gift of a sympathetic ear-he just listened and let me vent.
Give yourself a listening time-out. During certain times of the year, we are often reminded of what truly matters. What does this mean for you? Perhaps it is easier to express when you’ve removed all of the noise that comes with stressful moments (if only temporarily). After my stress meltdown mentioned above (#1), I sat down in a comfy chair and breathed in the fragrance of fresh pine in our living room. I was still a little ruffled, so I turned off the T.V. and just listened to the late night sounds in the house: my son’s breathing coming over the monitor, one of our dogs dreaming by the couch, car doors across the street, two clocks ticking. A bird? Then my breath. I felt better with this “time out, ” and it was hearing my son’s breathing along with my dog’s endearing dream-yelps that gave me an instant “re-focus”-a wonderful gift.
Listen to your intuitive self. When it comes to knowing what’s best for you, who knows what is best? You. You may not feel like it sometimes-and others may want you to believe that as well-but once you learn to trust your abilities and realize your strengths, your intuitive self begins to speak loud and clear-an empowering gift! This is proven time and time again when you discover that the best solution is what comes from within. It is often those ideas that resonated with your knowledge already stirring deep inside, your gut feeling. Others may help you get there, but you start to make things happen and follow through with your goals/ideas when you own them in the first place.
Listen to your elders. It is humbling to hear the life stories of the people in your life. You understand each other better, appreciate more about them, learn from their experiences, and show more respect. It can be very enlightening. These are their gifts to you. This applies not just to your elders, but to your children, your friends, strangers, even your enemies. Listen to what they wish to share with you. Listen to their stories, their advice, and their philosophy with sincerity and compassion. You do not have to agree with them or follow their advice, but their input just might sneak up on you someday when you need it most; when a word or phrase or a shared experience suddenly applies to your situation to guide you in a positive and helpful way.
Listen to your Mother…Nature.Listening to the sounds of nature (or in some instances, observing its peacefulness) can be an awe-inspiring experience. Finding a place to absorb nature without interference can increase your awareness to both the fragility and resilience of the natural world and that which lies within yourself. Laying down on the spongy earth may remind you of your place in the ecology, your imprint, good or bad. Connecting through nature strengthens your responsibility to preserve this spirit-your spirit-along with the variety of environments that support you. Truly listening to nature offers you gifts of humility, inspiration, and reflection. It provides connection, introspection, and uninhibited expression of creative thought.
Try any of these tips that resonate best with you and apply them to your daily life toward compassionate living. Listen to what happens!
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