Ways to listen: stillness

Stillness is one the way of listening that has the best PR campaign. I think this is in part because the mechanics seem so natural: if we sit and do nothing but listen, and keep listening through all of the chatter and details and to-do lists, eventually, we’ll get to something deeper.

This is true. It’s also not quite as easy as it sounds.

If you’re like me, for example, you may have a nearly endless ability to chatter to yourself, to get distracted, and to otherwise turn away from listening. This is something that can be practiced, of course. From traditional Buddhism to blended practices like mindfulness meditation to more western contemplative practices, there are many traditions with well-developed stillness practices. Some are focused on letting you hear the voice of your own wisdom in the course of the practice, while others prepare the way for that voice by clearing away chatter. I am not an expert in any of these, though, so I will leave you with some ways to practice stillness that I have worked with fruitfully, and look forward to hearing about yours in the comments.

  • Focus on a single sensory input: gaze at a candle flame, listen to a singing bowl, or focus on the scent of incense burning.
  • Imagine a cord that connects you from the base of your spine to the earth, down which thoughts and feelings you don’t need can flow.
  • Starting with your toes, focus on and release tension from each part of your body in turn
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