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The Grace in Listening

A World without Focus

Earlier this week, I went into an organic restaurant to order lunch. The first thing I said was, “Hello. This order is to go. One grilled chicken salad please. That’s all.” The cashier asked, “Is this to go?” I have a lot of these kinds of stories and I’ll bet you do, too. We just don’t listen to each other much. In a world where life happens in milliseconds, like text messaging and internet searches, it seems we have lost two things: patience and focus.

We will leave patience for another article and move on to talk about our loss of focus. It seems difficult for us to focus on one thing for long, if at all, which makes actually listening to each other nearly impossible. We have been raised in an age where doing as much as possible every minute of the day is considered the norm. Multi-tasking is trophy-worthy. But, in this state of being we don’t actually live life. In fact, we are really holding on for dear life as we are dragged around by a mind that is unfocused and unattached to everything but itself. This lack of focus keeps us from connecting with each other. But, connection is what is natural and normal for us since, at our core, we are all connected .¨ we are one.

Listening to each other, I mean really paying attention and focusing on what someone else is saying, can improve the overall quality of our life drastically. Instead of doing, doing, doing, imagine the quality of life we would experience if we started making real connections with people through active listening .¨ really absorbing what someone else is saying .¨ and making that personal connection. Imagine if we actually focused on building relationships rather than a resume of “how busy I can be”. Life would automatically become more meaningful and truly fulfilling. And, let’s face it, deep down we all know doing is not fulfilling, being is. Connecting with each other is a big component of being.

Waiting to Speak

I realized a few years back that I wasn’t really listening to my sister when she spoke. Instead I was waiting to speak. Many of us do this. We find ourselves in a conversation with someone, but spend most of the time picking up on key words that trigger the, “me, too” or the “I have one better than that” response within us. Conversations are more like competitions to see who can come out on top rather than for listening and connecting.

It seems we need to tell our story .¨ badly .¨ and we need to tell it much more than we need to listen to other’s stories. Why? We have to tell people how we are, what we know and how we do things because we are in a constant battle with a mind that tells us we are inadequate. So who is all the talking really for? It’s for us, more specifically, for our mind, so that we can convince ourselves that we are not as inadequate as our mind tells us. If we listen to ourselves speak, we can hear the desperation in the need to tell our story and that the story is being told from the perspective of inadequacy. This is really the mind talking to and about itself. If we knew we weren’t inadequate, if we knew the truth about ourselves, what would we really tell others? Life may be a lot more peaceful, joyful and healthy for us, don’t you think?

It’s not the skill of listening to others we need to practice as much as it’s the skill of not listening to our own mind that needs practice. However, we can certainly get there by practicing listening to others. The next time someone is talking with us, let’s look into their eyes (or at the bridge of their nose) and set our mind aside to really hear what they are saying. We will feel much more connected to the person and to ourselves.

You might be wondering how we would feel more connected to ourselves simply by listening to someone else. Well, listening to others provides a connection to them. When we feel connected to others, we automatically experience that connection within, too, just as we experience anger within when we are angry at someone else. Connect with someone through listening and you will know what I mean.

The Grace

Listening is connecting and connecting is living so we can find life in listening. The grace that comes with listening to others is a life experienced in its truest form .¨ without stress, without desperation and without competition. It’s life in a state of freedom from the mind’s thoughts of inadequacy. And since none of us is inadequate as we have been taught, we find out who we really are through this small, but mighty act of listening. We find that we are powerful and peaceful; perfectly balanced in the state beyond talking .¨ fully immersed in being. This is grace.

The grace in listening provides us with the perspective and experience of peace in the heart, mind, body and soul. Peace means healing and there is nothing but healing when we slow down, give up doing so much and pay attention to life .¨ listening to the sights and sounds of all that is going on around us. In this place, we are immersed in life rather than skimming on top of it.

Feeling powerful rather than weak comes from listening as we have nothing to prove and no one to outdo. Once we begin listening more, we hear the distinct position of weakness we are in when we talk about ourselves simply because we feel inadequate. Power isn’t in being better than someone else in your mind; it’s in being connected to each other and understanding that no one is inadequate. Balance is restored in this moment.

I’m still telling my story out of inadequacy sometimes, but that’s okay. I’m listening to it. I know this is a process of moving from the realm of the mind’s inadequacy platform to the freedom, connection and peace in the heart. Just as we are all connected, so is each step of this process. The process happens in just the right way for each of us so we remember our truth- that we are one and that we are love.

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