The Ways of a Listening Heart


As an educator, I am well aware that we need to re-learn and be re-taught multiple times before we really grasp a new concept or skill.  So here I am once again sharing with you the invaluable roll of listening to others tell their stories of loss and pain.

“Comfort listening” is different than other listening types of interactive conversations.  In ordinary chit chat, we are engaged in light, jovial, banter. Frequently, we may be thinking of our own responses as much or more than to what another is saying.    We interrupt, jump in, and even attempt to finish the speaker’s thoughts.  Or at least, I do this way too often.  But “Comfort Listening” requires an attentive awareness only to the person we are hearing.

What it Looks Like

Comfort listening calls forth:

  • Setting aside all preconceived ideas about the other person and/or what they will say or do.
  • Choosing to dial in 100% to the person we are engaged with.
  • Shutting out distractions and give the bereaved our eyes.
  • Listening with our heart and allowing ourselves to feel what they are working through with their words.
  • Allowing our own tears of compassion for their pain.
  • Discarding judgment of our self or others.
  • Listening only to hear the other person’s story.
  • Overcoming the temptation to wander in our mind and to think about our own matching experiences–we CLOSE THAT DOOR.
  • Keeping in mind, this moment is NOT about us.
  • Offering physical support through touch.

“Comfort Listening” may not come naturally to most of us. I know that I am still practicing and developing this skill with my clients.  I am even finding that if I practice it in ordinary day to day conversations, I feel so much better about the time I spend with others.  May we never, never, never give up improving our listening skills.

Comfort Listening Wisdom

“Listening is a very deep practice. You have to empty yourself.  

You have to leave space in order to listen . . . ”  

Thich Nhat Hanh





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