Everywhere I go these days someone is talking about the importance of listening. While I'm in full support of this, it does make me chuckle every time anyone talks a lot about listening- that, in and of itself, has some irony right?
We all intellectually understand what the word listening means, and many of you might even agree with me that things stand to improve if we do more of it, but that doesn't mean we know how to do it let alone do it well.
I went to a yoga class for the first time in quite a long time and the instructor invited us to consider our hour and a half class as an opportunity to practice listening. This is not a foreign concept in yoga classes by any stretch, over the years I've heard many instructors offer guidance similar to what you'd expect in meditation--notice what's happening without indulging in the need to fix or change it, stay with yourself or your breath even when things get bumpy, etc.
Considering how much I've been exposed to this kind of instruction over the last fifteen years, it always takes me by surprise that it still affects me. On Sunday it was when the woman teaching said, "you know that thing that happens sometimes...when the thing that you want to have happen and what is actually happening aren't even like talking to each other?!" And then she mentioned that when those moments happen, our tendency is to rush through them and in doing so, we don't allow ourselves to experience the feelings we might have about that disconnect. Feelings like disappointment, sadness or disillusionment.
Maybe it is the repetition of this teaching that led me to stop rushing through, to slow down and explore all the feelings I've felt about opening Cyril's, managing a group of people, and learning to listen--to others, and also to myself. I wrote an essay about many of these things here, for the Staff issue of Communal Table. I hope you get a chance to read it.
Listening is not the path to making things easier--in fact, often it looks like the opposite--and yet it does somehow feel better in the end (and also along the way). Try it, you'll see what I mean.