Active listening is perhaps the most essential skill you should have if you would like to develop a healthier relationship with others and with yourself.
The difference between active listening and merely just hearing is the difference between a deep, heartfelt connection and a superficial relationship. Active listening means that you are not just hearing the words that are being said, but rather you are attempting to comprehend the intention the manifests them truly. Understanding the purpose then gives you the actual ability to respond more authentically and meaningfully. Being an active listener is essential because it forms the basis of a meaningful relationship. Without active listening in communication, there are not significant responses, and people are merely talking to each other.
Active listening is also the foundational skill of utilizing the wisdom that comes through your higher self to you. You could even say that we PRACTICE this active listening with others, only to REALLY USE active listening with ourselves. Actives listening to yourself mean paying attention to the subtleties - the thoughts, the sparks of inspiration, the synchronistic phones call or signs, the momentary sharp pain in your side as you had a particular feeling, all of it - they are forms of communication from your higher self. An active listener will recognize those forms of communication and intuit the meaning of them, then the active part - take action upon them. This way of being is the direction of the wise - the path of least resistance towards your intentions/desires. It's so, so essential to develop this skill, as it applies to pretty much every area of our lives.
Active listening is mostly about presence. Here is a list of things that if you are doing them while talking with someone else, you are not embodying your highest levels of connection with that person - thinking about other things, think about what to say next, looking at other things, checking your phone, fidgeting with your finger or hair or mouth, not making eye contact, not providing non-verbal responses. Any of these things are opportunities to get more presents.
Getting present is simply about getting focused, about your vision and feeling body being so excited about what is in front of you that there is nothing else that can be brought into your awareness. Backtracking yourself into presence by auditing your physical and mental behavior is one way to reprogram yourself to be more present. Another way is to get excited about the conversation for the conversation's sake, not the outcome of the conversation. When you are eager to talk with your best friend that you have not seen in a very long time, there is a presence. You are not judging each other or sizing each other up. There is just a desire for connection. Finding this desire in ALL conversations - or at least all those where you desire to be a more active listener - is a sure way to deepen the connection.
When talking with someone, don't think about your response until this person is finished speaking. Instead, spend all of your mental/emotional energy connect through what they are saying. Remove yourself from the equation and just hear THEM, not what YOU think about what they are saying.
When in a conversation with someone, if you are focusing even a portion of your conscious attention on what you are going to say next, you are making the statement that you do not trust yourself.
We've all felt this - we are in a conversation, and we think of what we want to say next. Then, the person has the gumption to keep talking. What the hell? You are ready to respond, so whatever is coming out of their mouth right now is unimportant because you don't want to forget what YOU want to say.
This is a lack of trust in yourself and a lack of presence being provided to the conversation.
Allow for silence and contemplation. We are inundated with actors communicating with each other so much so that we have entirely forgotten that there is no obligation to immediately speak after someone else is finished. The speed at which our various media - shows, interviews, movies, news, social media personalities, etc. - propagates communication is not realistic for human connection. It looks fun on the screen, but in reality, it is robotic and sterile relative to the heart-connection, so many of us have experienced. You have the right to take a pause and consider what to say next in a conversation.
We watch media of all forms representing people that have scripts - that are immediately able to go back and forth seamlessly in communication, and we have been programmed to think that this is the "proper" way to communicate. In most relationships, it is not. The silent part of a conversation is where the magic is. If we are too anxious to allow that silence to reveal itself, and instead seek to fill that silence with words, we will miss the connection.
Immediately after an important conversation, write down the highlights. We have a Spirit Science friend that used a little red notebook that she had with her all of the time. Many times, she was making notes about a conversation to follow back up with that person on those subjects in the future. This is, of course, basic sales tactics and is exceptionally beneficial. Many times, though, she was just doing it to hold herself accountable.
It's good to have a log of conversations so that I can just remember what you were talking about last. Over time, this builds memory because it associated the present-tense conversation with all other discussions and connections. Also, it allows for reflection. In the moments after an interview, as our friend would write her notes, she would report nearly always think of something new to share with the person she was communicating with, and would many times send them a letter as an extension of the conversation.
Using the tool of active listening is ALWAYS done AUTOMATICALLY when you love someone and are allowing yourself to be present with that person.
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