Rev. Wayne Walder: Listening, A Wonderful Spiritual Discipline

by Reverend Wayne Walder

Did you hear it, the sound of the hidden wind in the dried leaves before they fell to the ground? Did you hear it, the sound of the soft sigh at the end of the story? Did you hear it, the sound of your own body creaking and moving?

I could go on; there are many sounds around us. There is the sound of music and of conversation, of danger and of sadness, the sound of high fives and of laughter. We hear them all. Our mind/body helps us to focus by disregarding sounds so we are not over–stimulated, so we are not overwhelmed by all the sounds around us. We know this because when we sit quietly even for a few moments, we begin to hear all the sounds we disregarded moments before. We hear the airplane flying, the dog barking, the subtle fear in the comments made by a friend. We hear our breathing and if we listen carefully, our heartbeat.

Hearing just happens; our ears hear and our brain registers the sound, depending on what is happening around us.

But listening is a skill we can cultivate. Listening is our awareness of what we hear. Are there times when you stop hearing and start listening? Is it when a loved one is upset and you want to help, so you listen to more than the words? Is it when you are confused or in pain and you listen hoping to find relief? Can you and I listen when we are being criticized without disregarding the sound?

The practice of listening to another, not simply waiting for our turn to talk, is a wonderful spiritual discipline. When we listen to what people say and how they say it, we can often hear what they need, even if they have not said it. When we listen, sometimes people will realize they are being heard and the conversation will change. Listening solidifies relationships. They become honest, more intimate.

And this spiritual practice of listening is free, takes no time and can be done anywhere at anytime. Listen and try it.


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