Last week, we spent some time talking about how expectations get in the way of connecting with those we love. I want to hone in on this a little more this week as we start paying attention to LISTENING as a way to connect.

How many of us at one time or another have vowed to become a better listener? I know I have. But what is it we are really ‘listening’ to? Isn’t it true that we pay attention first to what is the loudest? The thing that is so big, so strong, so demanding that we have no choice but to notice it. Just my guess here, but I’m pretty confident for most of us, that big, loud thing is usually our REACTION to what is being said rather that the actual words. Right? We say we are going to listen and then our gut or our heart or our mind starts yelling, and we don’t even realize that our listening has been pulled into reacting.

To Listen, Mark Nepo says, “is to lean in softly with a willingness to be changed by what we hear.”

But, what gets in the way of leaning in softly? What gets in the way of listening? Tara Brach offers us three common obstacles to listening:

1. Wanting – how do we want to be perceived by the person speaking? What do we want them to think of us?

2. Self-Protection – our natural reaction to criticism or to hearing things that play on our fears.

3. Zoning Out – when we aren’t wanting or protecting, we most often just zone out into thoughts of what else we could/should be doing in this moment.

So, we want to listen but we face obstacles and reactions; what do we do to help us forge ahead and listen with “a willingness to be changed by what we hear?”

We Pause.

We Stand Still. 

We give ourselves a moment to notice what is happening in this very instant and bring ourselves back to the work at hand – listen with our whole being. Stand Still. Listen. Connect.