The other morning I woke up to the sound of Great Horned Owls calling to each other. They must have been in the Redwood trees right behind the house. I often hear them at night before I go to sleep, but I rarely hear them in the morning. It was early, though, and still dark.
I lay in bed listening to them. Usually, it takes a little while—maybe 10-15 seconds—for another owl to respond, but this time, they were responding in a manner that overlapped. Not only was there no gap between calls, it was as if they could read each others’ mind and were replying before the other could finish the “sentence.” The sound was beautiful and awe inspiring.
As I listened, I began to think about how I listen, or if I listen, and to whom.
Listening to People
I’m an impatient person, typically in a hurry to get to the point and to get things done. When someone talks, I have to stop myself from engaging in the bad habit of interrupting them and formulating a response before they finish. My mind quickly becomes convinced I know what the other person want to convey, and then it takes over. It begins to analyze or come up with a response, and then I feel the desire to speak. That is not true listening, and I know this, which is why I fight the tendency.
Just Friday I had to exercise control over this habit as I worked with a VIP book coaching client. At several points during the day she wanted to tell me stories; I had the desire to cut to the chase, but I intuitively knew her process involved the telling—and the hearing—of her experiences. And I knew that by doing so we would get the results she and I both desired from her coaching session. Only be really deeply and carefully listening on many levels would I be able to serve her well.
This type of listening entails being present, being in the moment. You can’t be thinking ahead to where you believe the conversation should go or what you want to say or do next. You have to just listen. You only respond after listening fully. You also can’t be in the past, thinking about what happened previously and what you wish you had said or done.
With humans, there’s an energetic language happening as well as a verbal languag. It happens underneath the verbal language. If you listen with your heart and with your subtle body, your energy field, you will get a sense of what the person sitting across from you or next to you is telling you. You might call this listening intuitively. No words need to be said. That’s what I mean when I said I intuitively knew that my client needed to tell her stories.
Listening to God
There’s a different type of listening I try to be keenly aware of; unfortunately, I fail at this more often than I care to admit. This is more like the “call and response of the Great Horned Owls that I heard the other morning—or it can be. It’s the listening that happens when I converse with God.
If I speak to God, I have to really pay attention to hear the answer, at least at first. I have to be present, mindful, quiet. My mind can be a busy place, full of random thoughts that distract me from the words of God, which truly sound no different than my own thoughts. It’s that “Still Small Voice.” But the words come just as quickly as the owls’ overlapping conversation, myquestion, request or statement answered or replied to before I’ve finished framing it in my mind or allowed it to leave my lips completely.
Much like intuition, we have an energetic connection to God, or whatever you like to call this Higher Power. So, the conversation happens almost simultaneously, but we don’t notice unless we are present and listen well. We also have to start the conversation. If we do this regularly, though, listening becomes a habit, and we hear God speak to us continuously. We have a constant conversation, a constant call and response.
If we never listen to God, we don’t hear the messages. I have to remind my self weekly…daily…to start the conversation with God, but not to let it be one sided. I remind myself to listen to what God has to say…not to just listen to my own chatter. When the conversation is ongoing, then I’m constantly listening, and I constantly hear (receive) the messages.
What Do You Hear?
Underneath almost everything we hear in the physical world runs an energetic message. The birds and animals offer it. The rocks and trees offer it. The wind and the waves offer it. We need only listen to hear what they say.
Too often our homes, offices, cars, and, generally, our lives, are too filled with noise to hear this conversation. We have the television, computer, iPad, or phone on to keep our minds busy. And this keeps us too busy to notice the energetic conversation around us. In the process, we can’t hear the messages: the subtle movements of our mate, the wind in the trees, the sounds of our pets, the rain or snow on the roof… We may not even be aware of the white noise: the buzz of the computer or the refrigerator, the water dripping in the sink, the ticking of the clock. We are dulled to them. What happens when the electricity goes off? True silence. Then you can hear. Then you can listen.
But you have to train yourself to listen despite the noise.
It’s all about listening. The more you are willing to listen, the more you are present and really listen, the better you get at listening. As time goes on, the more messages you will receive from the people around you, from God and from the world.
What is your experience with really listening?
Image credit: gwolters / 123RF Stock Photo