Do you feel you are skittering along the surface of your life, going faster and faster, but not getting anywhere? Or perhaps you feel bogged down, stuck, discouraged? There are simple skills that if practiced can make a big difference.
The first skill is deep listening. How often do you slow down to listen deeply to yourself, to your partner, to other people, or to God/Goddess/Universe?
Deep listening means listening with your whole being, not just your ears; listening for the questions and concerns beneath the surface; listening for what is said and what is not said; and listening, not in order to fix, but in order to understand and learn.
Listening to yourself. What if you spent the same amount of time checking in with yourself that you did checking email or phone messages? Learn the questions that help you tune into your internal experience and awareness. Perhaps it is as simple as asking, “What am I feeling?”
Learn to listen to all your thoughts and feelings regarding a troubling issue. Maybe you have two or more seemingly contradictory feelings. Perhaps you feel a conflict between the “voice of reason” and the “voice of heart.” Perhaps your internal critic is drowning out other voices. Perhaps your “kid self” is feeling fear that your “adult self” just doesn’t understand. All voices, all perspectives are valuable.
Create time, space and a process for having dialogue with all parts of yourself. Some people are helped by imagining an internal “board meeting” in which all voices are allowed to weigh in with their thoughts and feelings. Others find journaling or meditation to be helpful. It doesn’t matter how you do it. Just do it—listen deeply to yourself.
Listening to others. Most of us, in spite of our best intentions, tend to spend our conversational time waiting for the first opportunity to offer our comments and opinions. We miss valuable opportunities when we do this—opportunities to learn and opportunities to connect deeply.
Assuming that you understand the other person’s perspective or opinion, deprives both of you of information and shared connection. Say, “Please help me understand.” Be open to learn, to be touched, and to be changed. Attention is a powerful expression of love. Learn more about yourself and others as you listen deeply to others.
Listening to God/Goddess/Universe. Whatever your spiritual path, it is important to develop a conscious practice of connecting with that which is larger than yourself—God, Goddess, Universe, Higher Self, Higher Power, or whatever image or name has meaning for you.
Practices for doing this vary—prayer, meditation, communing with nature, tarot, astrology, angel cards, runes, omens, signs, and many more. These are ways to connect; to receive wisdom and guidance; and to remind us that we are not alone—that there is something larger than our single lives. These practices can also help us remember that we are loved and valued for ourselves, whatever our current circumstances.
Several times a day, stop, take a deep breath and check in with yourself. Notice with curiosity (not judgment) what is going on.
When you find yourself tense or bored in a conversation or meeting, let that be a signal to practice deep listening with others.
Create and use practices for checking in several times a day with God/Goddess/Universe.