Listening is a vital skill for co-existence, development, healing and collective and individual evolution.
In a world with high noise levels, both inside and outside, listening is indeed a challenge. We are talking about the ability to truly receive another person’s message – with the understanding, attention, generosity and compassion that this implies.
Our daily life takes place between mobile phones, chats, voice and text messages, e-mails and many other forms of interpersonal contact that, due to their insistence and excess, sometimes end up becoming noise rather than communication. We live in the “age of communication” but they disconnect us from ourselves and others.
The importance of listening is strongly exemplified in the ancient Socratic practice of mayeutics – “the art of the midwife” – which involved methodical dialogues aimed at discovering (remembering) the truth, through dialogue with the other. Thousands of years later, these same principles, but applied with a different purpose, were taken up by psychoanalysis which, seen in broad terms, could be described as the act of giving space to intimate thoughts and feelings, and then verbalizing them: dialoguing with ourselves to heal.
Most of the problems that afflict the world today are the product of the inability to listen to each other. The development of the capacity to listen has possibilities for transformation on a social and perhaps planetary level. Listening is also allowing an exchange: to be listened to, we must listen to others.
We are storytellers because stories (seen as an exchange of information) are key tools for survival. It is a practice that comes from the oldest origins of humanity in its collective aspect: from the ancient tradition of sitting with the other members of a group, in a circle, to listen and be heard.
Listening is a skill and as such can be strengthened and improved. Many times, for example, when we talk to a person, instead of listening to them, we are busy thinking about what we are going to respond to, especially when it is an argumentative speech, an argument, a discussion or some form of negotiation. In this sense, there are many ways to listen: How do you listen to an opponent in a debate? How do you listen to the person you are in love with? How do you listen to someone you admire? How do you listen to a person alone in the middle of the forest?
The simple act of listening is a faithful reflection of our level of consciousness, both when we talk about listening to others and to ourselves. The world would be different if listening, like writing for example, were taught to children from an early age…
Listening implies attention, but above all the intention: the intention to create silence within ourselves, to receive the message.