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We’re All Ears: A Guide to Listening

One of the most important skills you can have in life is your ability to listen and empathize with others. Often times, it may be hard to remain quiet while letting your friend, family member, or acquaintance express their feelings to you. Dr. Anita L. Sanchez, author of THE FOUR SACRED GIFTS, shares a guide to listening. 

To listen with the softest part of your ear is to hold an intention to listen with empathy and compassion, a practice that asks you to be mindful and heart centered so you can listen unconditionally and without judgment. When you’re listening to the heart of another, here are a few steps to help you cultivate listening from the softest part of your ear:

  • First, take a pause and breathe into your body, allowing the oxygen to reach from the top of your head down to the tips of your toes, be still and quiet for several seconds, and then exhale out from your heart. This repeated breathing, opening up, and then emptying oneself provides the cradle from which you can listen.
  • Second, quiet your mind. For some of us, it may be like using an eraser on a whiteboard where our thoughts are written. For others, it may be releasing our thoughts, letting them float away like clouds. The key is that you focus completely on the other person’s need and words and let your inner conversation dissipate. For some, choosing to immerse themselves in the experience of the other right in front of them helps to quiet the mind.
  • Third, stay silent. Let go of your need to say or do anything other than being present for this person, trusting that the other person’s own sacred wisdom will lead the way
  • Fourth, repeat steps one, two, and three as needed.

To listen with the softest part of our ears to our own heart, use the same four steps above, cherishing yourself as you would the other. Listening has different qualities and tones. In observing a cat you can see where its focus is. The cat can have a sharp-focused attention in listening as it uses all its senses targeted at a toy or a mouse. Or the cat can have a wide-focused attention in listening as it relaxes on the back of the couch, taking in all of its environment.

As humans, we often listen with focused attention targeted on answers, conclusions, or our response to what another person is saying. Listening with the softest part of our ear is listening with a wide-angle attention, taking in everything the person is conveying and being present in that moment. Keep in mind that listening is not all hard; it is joyful, too.

Discover more about listening in THE FOUR SACRED GIFTS by Anita L. Sanchez. 


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Excerpted from THE FOUR SACRED GIFTS by Anita L. Sanchez. Copyright © 2018 by the author. Used by permission of the publisher. All rights reserved.

Photo by Trung Thanh on Unsplash.


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