Attuning is the act of bringing something into a harmonious or responsive relationship. When we have static in our minds we are most certain to manifest static in our lives. With static in our minds we can’t authentically listen to ourselves much less listen to another person. With static in our minds we hear things without being attuned to them. With a clear mind, we practice attuned listening. We must clear out the static through daily yoga and/or meditation/prayer practice.
When we are hearing more than listening, conflict arises and misunderstandings in communication run rampant. Unbridled conflict and misunderstandings disconnect us from expressing our divine nature in love; they fill us and others with pain and tumult, destruction, and sometimes violent behavior.
Mark Brady, Ph.D., the author of Right Listening, indicates that one of two things happen when conflict arises: 1) a person may exhibit unhappiness or anger at times, but deep down they feel disrespected; and 2) there is a lack or loss of mutual purpose.
Our goal as yogi listeners is to listen between the spaces of the words to find elements of lack or loss of mutual purpose and disrespect, so we can honor our role as attuned listeners to provide healing, connection, and ultimately constructive growth in harmony within us and for those we communicate with.
Next time you have a conversation with someone observe whether you are hearing the person or listening. When we are just hearing someone speak, we are not engaged nor are we in the moment, we are in disconnection mode. When we are attuned to engaging in conversation and truly listening we create connection, harmony, and understanding.
When we are attuned in listening to conversation we also tap into the other person’s needs without them specifically asking anything of us. Attunement requires us to be completely present in the moment. Attunement is the practice of yoga in conversation.
Dr. Brady gives some great practical tips from his book on how to practice attuned listening. Here are a few:
1. Talk less;
2. Don’t interrupt unnecessarily;
3. Promote an atmosphere of safety and trust;
4. Listen disrespect-fully (learn cues of anger or unhappiness is a disrespect issue, signs are anger or sarcasm, verbal attacks, hostile body language or refusing to communicate);
5. Listen for mutual purpose;
6. Be slow to criticize, argue or disagree;
7. Pay attention to the need for control;
8. Cultivate “beginner’s ear”;
9. Practice at being at ease with silence; and
10. Manage emotional reactivity (*serious relationship damage here)
Though this list is not exhaustive, it’s a great start in practicing an attuned form of listening.
Next time you engage in a conversation, throw multi-tasking out the window, breathe deeply, make eye contact or if you are on the phone put down the computer, the e-mail, dinner plans, etc. and sit down and bathe yourself in the words of the conversation. Practice the 10 tips suggested above and allow the words to permeate your very being. This kind of communication creates a lasting resonance. Tune into the attunement of right listening for lasting cohesion.
As Dr. Brady says “The work of a skillful listener is to learn how to skillfully act in response to the thoughts that fuel the emotional reactivity behind the words, and work toward resolving the [traumatic] memories.” This practice is a mutual synergy that we need to engage in daily to evolve our communication as a human species to a greater plane of connection.
Let’s get out of our heads and into our hearts. Let’s give ourselves the daily space to clear our mind; practice attuned listening as a life-long art form now; don’t be overly critical of setbacks and mistakes, pick ourselves up and try again, and again, and again; and carry on in the spirit of love and connection every time we listen. And it is in those actions we will transform into the yogi listeners that make not just speaking, but listening an act of love and healing.
Om Shanti Om ~ Athea