8 Listening Exercises

1. Listen for the sounds around you now: people’s voices, TV, music, cars, chirps, breeze. . . Stop what you’re doing. For three seconds, still yourself and hear what’s around you.

2. Listen for the sound of silence. Turn off any noise in your control. At a time when all’s mostly quiet, such as early morning or late into the night, hear the buzz of silence that is always there, behind sounds you typically notice first.

3. Listen to your thoughts. Turn your focus inward and listen to the voice or voices of your thoughts. What are you saying to yourself?

4. Listen to someone attentively. Direct your attention to someone speaking with you. Start with someone dear to you, usually easiest to pay full and loving attention to. Look at your loved one and be fully present for his or her every word. Don’t be distracted by other things around you or on your mind if you can help it. Depending on the conversation, for at least several minutes, don’t speak or prepare yourself to respond immediately, just nod, smile, or utter, “uh huh” naturally. You don’t have to do anything except to relax into listening.

When you’re ready, try listening attentively to a stranger or someone you don’t particularly like or dislike. And finally with practice, try listening in this way to someone you dislike. You don’t have to listen to anyone face-to-face right away, try listening to someone on TV, radio, or a program on a device of yours whom you find disagreeable. When you can listen calmly, you may want to call and listen to a relative who always complains. Try that for some time until you are ready to listen to someone who usually upsets you in-person.

5. Who is listening? Listen to that which listens. What in you, about you is listening? Careful not to become trapped into coming up with an answer. The focus here is the pause at the end of the question where your thoughts cease briefly while your mind hovers over the question. In that pause is the answer.

6. Listen until the objective of listening is no longer: the subject, the object, and the process all dissipate; in other words, you, sounds, and listening all cease to be noticed.Remember to always return to listening as a meditative practice to hone your skills. Listen to the sound of silence and listen for that which listens until you experience peace, and only peace – no sounds, no silence, no one listening, and no one being listened to.

7. Listen in emptiness. A wordless state. Only when you are out of that emptiness will you realize, or note to yourself, “Ah, there it was.”

8. Listen to the end of listening, to the end of emptiness, and to the flourishing of abundant blossoming. !!!