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Developing Your Listening Skills

Cory Muscara






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Developing Your Listening Skills

In this talk and meditation, we'll explore a simple strategy to become a more mindful listener.

Hey, welcome.

In this session, we're going to discuss

and practice a mindful listening

technique that you can use in your

parenting and in your relationships.

The capacity to listen well with

curiosity and presence is, in

my opinion, one of the greatest

gifts you can give another person.

It becomes the heart of connection.

And there's something very primal, very

fundamental about being seen and heard.

I mean, think about it in your own life.

The people you know or have known who

feel like they're really there for you.

When you're sharing good news, bad

news, you can feel their presence.

You can feel that they care.

You can feel them listening.

And they respond in a way that is

aligned with what you were saying.

This is the bedrock of

a strong relationship.

But also our capacity to experience

empathy ourselves to another,

or empathy from others to us.

So there's one strategy for

mindful listening that I

perceive as a bit of a hack.

Very easy to implement.

You don't need to do years of meditating.

It's just a simple phrase.

And that is, Listen to

understand, not respond.

Listen, to understand, not respond.

The great thing about this is

that you can try it immediately

in your next conversation.

And it takes us out of our sometimes usual

orientation of what am I going to say

next, or just our usual judgements that

we might bring to a person, especially

our children or intimate partner about

what they mean in what they're saying.

And instead of actually listening,

we're actually caught in our

own story, our own ideas.

So this is a great practice to drop

beneath some of those preconceived

notions and meet the moment to moment

aliveness of the relationship that

is most intimate, and the response

can come organically from there.

It's not like you don't respond at

all, but you're letting the response

come from first understanding.

So let's do some meditation that

can drop us into this curious

understanding listening state.

You can find a posture that

feels comfortable for you.

Inviting your eyes to

close, if that feels okay.

And we'll start by taking a

deep breath to help us ground.

In through the nose.

Slowly out through the mouth.

Inviting the jaw to soften.


And the belly.

You can let your breath come

back to it's natural rhythm.

And we're just going to spend

some time in awareness, that

is akin to beginner's mind.

Beginner's mind is this childlike

curiosity, the recognition that

we've never seen this moment before.

We don't actually know

what it's all about yet.

And so as you rest here, just notice,

what is it like to be you in this moment?

In this moment.

Not 10 seconds ago, yesterday, a week ago.

Right now, what is it like to be you?

Not trying to change anything.

And even letting go of any judgments

around what you're experiencing.

You're just seeking to

understand what is here.

And we're going to practice taking

this beginner's mind into a scenario

where you're having a conversation,

when this might be most needed.

So think to a recent conversation you had.

This could be with your child or a

partner or someone else, if you prefer.

And it's a conversation where

you felt a little misattuned.

You weren't fully there.

You might've had your own

ideas and judgements about

what should have been done.

So just bring that to mind for a moment.

If you need to pause to

think about this, you can.

And now I just invite you to go

back through the conversation where

they're sharing something with you.

And to imagine listening with

this beginner's mind quality.

Listening to understand, not respond.

And just notice for yourself in

this visualization of what feels

different, what looks different,

how are you listening differently,

and how do you perceive they

might be responding differently.

I'll give you some time in

silence to reflect on this.

Okay, you can bring your attention

to your breath for a few moments.

And even though we've stepped

out of the visualization, it

can still be the same quality of

listening, attunement, listening

to understand rather than respond.

What is it like to listen to

the breathing in that way?

What is this breath like?

Let's take one more deep

breath before we close.

In through the nose.

Out through the mouth.

And when you're ready,

you can open your eyes.

So that is listening to understand

rather than listening to respond.

Remember, this is not

about not responding.

You can still have your opinions.

You can still put up a boundary.

You can still, yeah, offer your thoughts

around I don't think this is right.

But you're doing so from a place of deep

attunement, of really listening, of first

stepping out of your own ideas about

this person and what they should do.

Especially if it's your child or

your partner, where you probably

have a lot of different ideas.

Meeting the aliveness of this being right

now from a place of curiosity, even love.

And then allowing the response

to happen organically.

Does this solve all communication

and listening issues?

No, but it is one of the simple hacks

that I think can take you very far

and it's very easy to implement.

So try this out in your next conversation.

Listen to understand, rather

than listen to respond.

Thank you for your practice.

I'll talk to you soon.

And until next time, take care.

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