Tara Brach talks about Learning To Listen Deeply. It’s kind of an innate form of violence in our culture when we disconnect from the natural rhythms and get addicted to doing.
Learning to listen deeply is about harnessing our capacity to reconnect with what is right here. Often, we are caught up in habitual thought streams and behaviours that restrict us from being truly awake to what is present. This addiction to thinking and doing is an unconscious attempt to escape whatever is too uncomfortable for us to sit with, and as we start to become compassionately aware of this tendency, we reconnect with what is most present.
We can begin this deepening of our capacity to be present by harnessing our ability to listen to what moves within us. Various mindfulness exercises can facilitate this process of compassionate, non-judgmental listening, but one simple technique we can use is the practice of labeling the nature of the thoughts that arise within us.
For instance, when we are practicing some type of mindful breathing exercise, we can note various intangible forms that arise when our attention runs off, labeling these movements as: fear, judgment, aversion, yearning, contraction, resistance, or any other label that is appropriate. As we practice this, we start to detach ourselves from these habitual thought patterns, which makes it easier for us to listen on a deeper level.
Listening to Others
We can also explore this type of presence practice when listening to others. When we are engaged in a conversation, are we listening openheartedly or are we listening to respond? Becoming aware of any tendency we might have to prepare our response while the other person is still expressing their thoughts and feelings can remind us to tune back into the person before us.