I was talking to a friend recently about how particular I was with how people listen. It was me just noting how much I miss people who listen to me well, and find that it is their company that I crave for more often. I find myself wondering when I’ll see them again, and if I could just be in their presence as much as my availability will allow.
I remember reading about this in the book “The Power of Now” by Eckhart Tolle. He was saying something about love and attention being equal to one another. It’s astounding, really – how profound an impact a good listener can have on me, and how much love can be conveyed through this seemingly mundane, often underrated act [at least, in childhood, it was never given any emphasis in formal education. There was a lot about being the one actively talking, and being to express oneself masterfully, though. Not much light was brought into the other half of the equation].
Anyway, Eckhart Tolle was saying that when you listen, you do not just listen with your ears – you listen with your whole body – your whole spirit, even. And when you do, the one who is being listened to will feel it – will feel such a profound connection to you, will feel so accepted and loved with the energy of your attention – and this is the start of any real communion between human beings.
I find that to be so beautiful. Sometimes, when people listen to me, or express appreciation in a way that their whole energy is so attuned to the moment, I feel like I could burst into tears. They may not mean anything by it, but I am left feeling so honored by the purpose they put into their gestures, that my soul is just overjoyed and amazed.
It may be that I am particularly sensitive to how I am being received, maybe because I myself don’t take it for granted when I am the one listening. But I find that so many of the people who have been privy to my stories just by sheer length of time we’ve known each other are actually really lazy listeners. They are satisfied with their superficial versions of how it is to listen – that as long as I’m not intimating any gut-wrenching news, it’s okay to be on their phones, whisper to one another occasionally, and just be as distracted as the looseness can allow while they comfort me with periodic “I’m listening, okay?” statements every once in a while. I just feel like now that I am able to choose more where I spend my time, I find that I’d rather not spend time with those kinds of listeners.
It never felt so important – but it’s the most valuable thing to me now. Just recently, I was telling a story about what I went through to ensure things ran smoothly for a certain engagement I had, and the person listening thanked me – and it was such a heartfelt expression of gratitude. I can’t even explain it, but maybe there really is something about the energy you carry and share when you’re being so present in the moment – that your power even in the simplest gestures is compounded and the impact all the more significant.
The best part is I never thought so highly of this person before. And now, I see him in a totally different light.