Learning to Listen, Listening to Learn

Freedom of expression is a birthright that many of us have been granted and regularly exercise. We are freer to speak our minds now more so than any other time in history. Protests are readily organized and petitions fill our inboxes. We have endless mediums to share our opinions; we can let others know what we are thinking at any given moment through social media status updates. Information is endless; we are eager to tell others what we know.

Typically, speaking is valued more than listening. We all want to be heard, but sometimes we forget to ask questions. We avoid silence by filling the space between words with like and ummm… We don’t simply pause and breathe between sentences. Then, we think about what we should have said or we are going to say next while the other person is speaking. We don’t know how to listen for what isn’t being said. Rather than seeing the person, the whole person, behind their words, their story, we react, we interrupt with advice, we agree or disagree, or vacantly smile and nod.

Teachers and parents told us that listening is an important skill and we were frequently reminded to “Listen!” (to authority figures, that is). We were taught to tune out the intelligence of our inner voices and the wisdom of our surroundings and have since been bombarded with the media’s mind- and soulless messages — the only other option seeming to be to escape into internal dialogue.

June is a time to practice listening.

Ask a question, then listen to your intuition by noticing the images that come to mind later that day or night.  
Listen, to your thoughts and ideas through journaling without judgement. 
Listen, to your heart speak through the emotions in your body. 
Listen, to your stomach in all its feedback, reactions and responses. 
Listen, to your surroundings by listening to the sounds around you without labelling them as pleasant or unpleasant.  

… Start with
the ground
you know,
the pale ground
beneath your feet,
your own
way of starting
the conversation.

Start with your own
give up on other
people’s questions,
don’t let them
smother something

To find
another’s voice,
your own voice,
wait until
that voice
becomes a
private ear
to another…

– From David Whyte’s “Start Close In”


June 2015

Hearing & Listening (with Ashton Thébault)
Seeking Silence 
Meditation on Sound

Published by yogafreedom

Michelle Margaret Fajkus is a yoga teacher and freelance writer, editor and translator, as well as the creator of Yoga Freedom. She is a 30-something gringa Gemini in Guatemala where she lives with her family. Michelle learned yoga from a book at age 12 and found zen in California at 23. A native of Austin, Texas, she enjoys reading, writing, hiking, swimming and lounging in hammocks.

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