Photo by GarryKnight via Flickr

Photo by GarryKnight via Flickr

Right now, as I type this, there are two noises in our home.

Pink Panther ringing out on the computer as the girls enjoy some down time after a really busy morning of running and playing in the woods.

And, my husband who is snoring in a deep nap after a really busy morning of running and playing in the woods.

In the distance, now and then, I hear a very faint sound of cars on the highway about a mile away.

And then … after that I hear my typing.

I hear my mind finish a thought.

I hear how stillness sounds and when the wind blows through the tree outside my office window I hear that, too.

But, to be honest, I’m not always the best listener. I mean, I’m probably better than most. I often hear what people say and, unfortunately, I hear too much of what they don’t say, which is why I practice zen meditation.

Listening is one of those things we do all day — like breathing — that we don’t give much thought to and yet it’s probably the chief complaint we have about people.


Think about it. We wish our partners listened to us better. We wish our bosses and co-workers listened to us better. We wish our kids listened to us better. We wish our friends listened to us more.

Listening — like breathing — is a really big deal and that’s why I’m personally focusing on trying to do it better.

It’s my own personal experiment, to be honest.

And, it’s hard.

I tend to always know what’s best for people — and tell them as much. I have a solution for nearly every problem. This is a great skill for running a blog, hosting e-courses and coaching women to be the mothers they want to be.

It’s not always the best skill for being an active listener to my children or my husband.

And so in my own practice of listening, I’ve been actively listening even at times when I’m more likely to rush a conversation. I’m listening …

For those times when words need to be said and when they don’t.

For those times when one of my girls needs to express herself — even if what she says isn’t something I am happy to hear. 

For those protests over something or an argument in support of something or a complaint against something.

For what is said between the lines.

For what is not being said at all and understanding that sometimes silence is what is needed most. Or a hug. Or a nod of assurance. Or a look of “I get it.”

What I know for sure is that, in my own experience, we all really just want to be able to speak what’s on our heart.

We all just want to be heard.

And that means that we all just need to listen more to each other.

Even when we disagree. Or think we’re right. Or they’re wrong.

And when we start actively listening, compassion begins to form around us. We hear things on a deeper level. We are no longer interested in rushing through the conversation but rather want to be a part of it.

Being awake is almost always about paying attention. And it’s almost never about rushing. So, naturally, active listening — engaged listening — is one of the most key concepts we can practice.

This week, focus on actively listening to what others are saying. To what they are not saying. To what they wish to say. And focus on what you are hearing. Find new ways to be a show that you are an active listener.

This week, use your ears in new ways.

Listen as much with your eyes as you do with your ears. Listen with your whole body, not just one ear.

Every week for this year, I am offering a mindful challenge designed to get you practicing living a more awakened  life. This is Week 38 of 52 of {Project 52} Stay Awake. You are welcome to join in anytime during this year-long mindful living photo project. Please upload your photos to our Project 52: Stay Awake Flickr group so we can see what an Awake life means for you. 

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