I am often struck by how poorly we listen to each other, let alone how we listen to ourselves. Given all the listening we do, you'd think we were masters at it but research suggests we remember around 30% of what we hear, which is quite shocking! How much of life do we miss because of this??
Is this poor statistic because we don't have enough focus? Clearly, listening is a really important life skill - it can help avoid conflict, confusion and misunderstandings and enable us to relate with those around us in a much more harmonious way - whether at work, at home or at the supermarket.
What is the difference between hearing and listening?
Hearing refers to the sounds that you hear. Listening means paying attention not only to the story, but how it is told, the use of language and voice, and how the other person uses his or her body. In other words, it means being aware of both verbal and non-verbal messages. Your ability to listen effectively depends on the degree to which you perceive and understand these messages. To me also, it is about giving the other person space to speak, not cutting across them, not have a knee-jerk reaction to what they say, allowing their words to land within your body so you can feel what is really being said.
A great analogy is the pebble being dropped in a pond - the pebble being the words and the ripples being the sense of the words rippling through your consciousness. Once the ripples stop, there is space to respond.
There is something else that most of us innately try and do when listening to another person's pain or anguish. We try to fix it, make it go away or make them feel better. It's human nature. However, what they probably need is just to be heard, to have space for their pain and anguish. In some ways, by trying to fix it we do not give them permission to have the emotion in the first place. And usually, life throws curve balls that are not fixable, where only time will heal the wounds. Time and being heard and listened to by a loved one.
So when you next have a conversation with someone, notice their body language, notice how quick you are to respond, notice how much you actually take in and remember. And take this one step further, notice how much you listen to yourself - to your gut instincts and other signals your body gives you. Do you override these or take time to receive the messages and then act on them?
"One of the most sincere forms of respect is actually listening to what another has to say." Bryant H McGill
Craniosacral sessions are available with Ri in Bristol, Cirencester and Cherington.