“We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak.” Epictetus, Greek philosopher, c. AD 55-135
Why is listening to someone so important? Is it more important to listen to understand or listen to reply? I loved Epictetus’s quote and the visual he created. Seems so simple doesn’t it? Listening can be more important than speaking. Have you ever caught yourself focused on what you were going to say to someone instead of really hearing – seeking to understand without judging, analyzing, or trying to offer solutions? When someone asks us to listen or bear witness to their situation or experience it often is more helpful if we remain silent and give them our full attention. It’s been pointed out that listen and silent are spelled with the same letters! Hmmm.
Does listening to someone offer any kind of healing? Vietnamese Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh said “Listen with only one purpose – to give the other person a chance to empty their heart.” Why? The belief is that in doing so it helps to ease their suffering. It results in releasing a heaviness, sorrow, or maybe even some guilt that has been carried. Can you remember when you have listened to someone, even a stranger, and you didn’t have to really say much? Did the person feel better afterwards? Could you tell?
In the past I did some travel for business. I was on a late flight from the West Coast to the East Coast and happened to sit next to a person who began to talk to me. At first I was surprised since it was so late but I chose to listen. What unfolded was an example of a type of healing for him – an easing of his suffering. He was traveling to his son’s funeral. I didn’t have to say much of anything. I let him empty his heart. I was honored. This experience happened before I began a more conscious journey of awakening and yet I still remember it. As you reflect you may recall similar experiences of your own.
Don’t get me wrong, I can also recall many times where I’ve been more focused on moving on to the next topic, finding a solution, or offering a reply. Now, I’m more aware and recognize when I begin to do it and most of the time I can refocus with my intent to understand rather than respond. I know how important listening is with all of my being. Not just hearing the words but listening to nuances of tone, inflection, and if in person watching body language. In other words, listening more actively for what isn’t said. Does that make sense?
Former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill said “Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.” Yes, there are times when speaking is important and times that listening is more valuable. This includes listening to your own voice and soul instead of the external noise surrounding us constantly. Reaching a point in your journey of self awareness where you trust what you hear from your soul is key! Imagine the healing benefits you bring to others by listening and seeking to understand while being willing to help relieve their suffering by emptying their heart. Imagine experiencing these same benefits when you trust what you hear from your soul!
Perhaps this week will be a great time to practice being more aware of when it’s time to stand up and speak or sit down and listen. I would love to hear about your experience. Enjoy your week and have fun! Know how loved you are!
I’m available for private coaching and channeled information sessions at Storm Wisdom on Tuesdays from 1p – 6p by appointment. Please call Storm Wisdom, (602)334-1204 to schedule. I’m also available by phone or Zoom. To schedule please go to victoriabarna.com.