Several years ago my daughter called me out. Siting in the back seat of the van she began sharing with me. I really was not listening as I reviewed in my mind the list of all I needed to accomplish that day.
I definitely heard her next loud question: “Mom, are you listening to your thoughts or are you listening to me?”
“Uh. Oh. I was listening to my thoughts. My apologies. Please say again what you were sharing.”
Being present with a quieter mind continues to be a practice. Mindfulness, yoga, meditation, and writing down the words swimming around in my head all remain helpful actions. When others are talking, it helps me to look in their eyes, to put away my phone, to feel my feet, my heart, and actually hear their words. I’m better at this than I used to be. Soulful listening will continue to be a lifelong aspiration.
When life gets full of distractions, seemingly endless tasks, and interruptions, we can be challenged to focus on those people standing right in front of us, to look them in the eyes, ground ourselves, and listen. Life often happens in the nuance and when we consistently ignore our loved ones or colleagues, they feel it. It creates a gap, a pushing away, and eventually the experience of invisibility, isolation, and loneliness.
When we do listen, it can become this investment of loving kindness into the depth and breadth of the relationship. In the space of being seen and heard, others more likely will share important and meaningful content and ideas. They often become quite animated and alive right before our eyes.
What will you do today to see, hear, and appreciate others?