I recently attended a class on polyrhythmic drumming, in which the instructors talked about the concept of “deep listening.” It struck me that that’s a really important skill to acquire if we’re trying to develop our intuition and be supportive of others.
So what is deep listening, and how does it happen? The Center for the Contemplative Mind in Society describes it this way:
Deep Listening is a way of hearing in which we are fully present with what is happening in the moment without trying to control it or judge it. We let go of our inner clamoring and our usual assumptions and listen with respect for precisely what is being said.
For listening to be effective, we require a contemplative mind: open, fresh, alert, attentive, calm, and receptive. We often do not have a clear concept of listening as an active process; we often see listening as a passive, static activity. In fact, listening and a contemplative mind is open and vibrant yet spacious, and it can be cultivated through instruction and practice.
There you have it. Deep listening requires the state of mind achieved during conscious inner relaxation. When you breathe deeply into your lower abdomen, allow your diaphragm to pull air into your lungs in an easy, unforced way, and release it without strain, you’re not only massaging your inner organs, but bringing your attention out of your head and down into your body. You’re also creating a greater energetic awareness of all that surrounds you, and of your own internal state.
With this practice, you can become quiet inside, without all the mental noise and emotional confusion that too often hijacks our ordinary waking consciousness. In this state you can listen deeply, both to yourself and to others.
So if you’re playing a musical instrument, improvising in a jam session with other musicians, the only way you can participate effectively is to breathe deeply, relax, quiet your mind, release all preconceptions of how the music “should” go, and resonate with the sound of what’s happening in the moment.
When you’re counseling others, if you have a lot of mental noise going on, triggered by physical tension in your body, you can’t be in that moment, or intuit what is beneficial for you, or hear the “still, small voice of calm” that is your own inherent wisdom.
So allowing yourself to relax, to breathe deeply, to loosen the tightness in your core, and to let go of “efforting” enables you to hear the inner intuitive messages that you need in that moment, and also to listen deeply to others so you can support them on their journey.
Wishing You Peace & Blessings
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