So when you are listening to somebody, completely, attentively, then you are listening not only to the words, but also to the feeling of what is being conveyed, to the whole of it, not part of it. ~Krishnamurti
Listening is a magnetic and strange thing, a creative force. When we really listen to people there is an alternating current, and this recharges us so that we never get tired of each other. We are constantly being re-created. ~Brenda Ueland
During my recent telesummit on tapping into divine inspiration, several of the guest speakers talked about the importance of deep listening in the creative process. But what is meant by deep listening? Why is it important to our creativity?
Many of us spend hours each day listening…to kids, parents, spouses, bosses, the TV, whoever is on the other end of our phones, talk radio, etc. Sometimes, this listening is just surface listening—that is, listening for key words or phrases of interest. The rest of the time, our minds may wander off, go for a brief vacation and then wander back when we hear another keyword.
Sometimes we are listening with more attention but, at the same time, we are preparing our response—why we agree, disagree, how we have a similar experience, or what advice we have to offer on how to change or fix a situation.
Deep listening, whether to another person, myself, or my Muse, requires a different state of being and a different state of mind, especially if I want to hear accurately. To listen deeply we must:
- Move into silence. This may seem like a contradiction but it isn’t. To listen deeply to another person means we have to first stop our internal chatter, all the “me” talk. We have to put aside our needs, our opinions, our ideas, and even our desires to “fix it”. To listen deeply to ourselves, or our Muses we not only have to enter into inner silence but into external silence as well. Hearing “the still small voice” of our soul or heart, or our source of inspiration requires silence, deep silence. Turn off the TV and radio and MP3 players. Sit in silence or try meditation, and other forms of centering to move into inner and outer silence.
- Make a commitment to be present. Being present to someone who is speaking means listening with an intent to be fully aware and attentive. The same is true for yourself and your Muse. How can you hear your desires and thoughts, or the ideas and inspirations of your Muse if you don’t make yourself available to her physically and mentally. Commit to being present with attention, not allowing yourself to be distracted by the Internet, or TV, or food, or friends.
- Be patient. Does it seem to you as if people talk faster and faster these days? TV and the digital world seem to encourage short, fast communication. If I can’t tell you something in 140 characters (Twitter) or 30 seconds (your elevator pitch, a commercial) then I’m in trouble. But true communication does not happen in tag lines, slogans, and tweets. True communication requires sentences and paragraphs and silences in between. And for communication with the Muse, the silences are just as important as the words. Give the gift of presence with patience in your listening.
Deep listening takes practice, just as our creative work does. If we want our Muses to show up on a regular basis, then we need to be ready and willing to really listen to them. Like our friends, our Muses want—and deserve—our full attention. In listening deeply, an energetic exchange is set up that is rewarding, inspiring, and often healing for both speaker and listener.
Try being aware of your listening patterns this week. Are you giving yourself the gift of deep listening?