It is extremely important for you and me to know that we're heard when we share our stories and particularly our deepest feelings with others. It is equally important that we listen, really listen, to hear what others are telling us. Are you a good listener?
Mark Nepo in The Book of Awakening: Having the Life You Want by Being Present to the Life You Have tells about a time in his earlier life when he did far more talking than listening. He talked "faster and louder to the world around me," he says, "because I couldn't hear the world within me." And, as he points out, "... the more noise I made, the less chance I had of having what was real enter me or rise from me."
I like the way Nepo describes what happened when he began to listen more: "It's taken me many years to learn that the world comes flooding in if I can only keep myself open.
"It remains important to reach out and to express oneself, but underneath that is the need to be porous and real. Through the opened heart, the world comes rushing in, the way oceans fill the smallest hole along the shore. It is the quietest sort of miracle: by simply being who we are, the world will come to fill us, to cleanse us, to baptize us, again and again."
Listening is a skill you can learn. In fact, I would say it's an art. I know how my heart is warmed when someone listens to me with full attention. And I know how great it feels when I listen, really listen (not thinking of what I'll say next or what I'm fixing for dinner!), to someone else. My heart really does open up more ... and "the world comes rushing in."
What can you do today to enhance your listening skills?