A Listening Heart
“As we sit, listening to the world around,
Far away from the incessant, repetitous musing of our minds,
We begin to hear the melody of a song that sounds familiar…
Chords magnify, harmony is distinct, the chorus reveals itself
The song of our lineage comes back to us.
A-a-ah yes, it is a song you used to sing many lives ago
A song of love and life
A song we have yet to finish, really we have only begun
And as we melt into the symphony
A sense of sweet joy returns
We re-member the reasons for which we have come…”
It is a listening heart that hears and is heard. Deep down we long to hear and to be heard, to connect with people, the world, and beyond. Yet, how often I hear people complain of loneliness in our globalized, technology-laden, communication geared society. I have felt the pangs myself and ultimately it has led me to seek this ‘connecting’ in moments of longer silence, moments that have opened up just as this poem expresses. Words so often fail to satisfy, and oftentimes we use them to stay on levels that ‘protect’ our hearts. This protection is really just denying ourselves the heart connection for which we hunger. I will always remember my first love. We had such a gift of communication we could look into each others’ eyes and just ‘know.’ It is a delightful experience.
Cultivating a listening heart is an excellent way to dissolve the blocks we have created…yet spending time in silence, which is a very effective way, is scary for many. Oh, even the thought of practicing silence can seem like an oppression, like being ‘cut-off’ from reality. This is only a trick our minds play because ‘it’ (that is, the mind!) fears losing its grip. Rumi Mavlana, a 12th century Sufi mystic counsels well in saying the uncreated sound of existence can only be heard when we have reached inner peace and stillness. Silence is simply the gateway to the fulfillment of all we desire, on every single level.
Each time we listen from the heart it affects everything within us. We get the sense of being alive, and we taste a true sense of communion. This is the silence that speaks more loudly than words, the ‘supper that renews our love’ (in the words of a Christian mystic, John of the Cross.) As we hear the song (of uninhibited life,) it grows from a melody, to a chorus of infinite beauty and proportion…we are made to be listening hearts.
What are some of the qualities of a listening heart?
First, a listening heart hears what is really intended. This one understands the deeper meaning of the words expressed by others. We all communicate in such different ways and we really have a choice in this communication. We can impose our interpretations according to our way of saying or understanding, or we can open ourselves to penetrating to the deeper meaning of what is said. The latter allows us to enter the mystery of the person, and to respond instead of react in our interactions.
Second, a listening heart lives a life of hope. I think the notion of hope has gotten a bad rap today. So many organized religions have claimed it as a virtue and defined it in ways that has taken the notion out of daily parlance. Yet hope fires us, impels us, helps us realize our deepest passion. All our hopes are meant to be fulfilled! Yes fulfilled! Hearing our deepest desires, which takes quieting our minds, lets us come into contact with the excitement of living our lives in this hope. We honor our desire, then we choose, each day, the ways we will move more deeply into this life. This is living in hope. I think each one of us can remember times when we really hoped for something, and what it was like when we finally got it. I can remember when I really hoped for a bike when I was 7 years old. It was on my birthday when my mom and dad wheeled a purple Huffy our into the living room, I was ecstatic, and it was my favorite color too! This example always reminds what it is like to put myself ‘out’ there and really hope.
Third, a listening heart honors all living things. This silence, which is more an inner disposition than an external reality, empowers us to begin to honor ourselves. We begin to hear what our body is telling us and what our psyche is concerned at the root. From this listening we find the freedom and wisdom to say no to the many distractions that can take away our happiness, and to say YES! YES! YES! To all that is life giving.
There are of course, many other qualities of a listening heart. What would you add to this list?
Open yourself again and again to sing the song of your lineage…all creation will be singing with you. Take long moments to fill yourself with the many harmonies that are the song of your life unfolding this very moment.
Your friend upon the journey,