The Yoga of Listening

Listening is a rare happening among human beings.

You cannot listen to the word another is speaking if you are pre-occupied with your appearance or with impressing the other, or are trying to decide what you are going to say when the other stops talking, or are debating about whether or not what is being said is true or relevant or agreeable.

Such matters have their place, but only after listening to the word as the word is being uttered.

Listening is a primitive act of love in which a person gives himself to another's word, making himself accessible and vulnerable to that word.

William Stringfellow 

I was introduced to this teaching during my first teacher training in 1993. I’ve held onto it and shared it often since then.

It speaks to how true listening is a practice of remembering and entering into the space of oneness. It asks us to temporarily relinquish our concepts, assumptions and expectations for the sake of offering another person our pure attention and presence.

While it may be true that this kind of listening does not often occur between humans, it might even be more rare that it happens within us.

Isn’t it possible that this generous, kind and loving connection can also be applied to the way we listen to ourselves?

On many levels, yoga is a practice of listening.

In asana, we learn to listen with our awareness. We listen to the body through feeling, sensing and observing.

If we can do this without imposing assumed limitations, judgments, and expectations, our practice becomes a means of nurturing a sweet and self-supportive inner connection. It gives us a way to offer the generous and loving act of true listening back toward ourselves.