The Healing Practice of Deep Listening

by Michael Corthell   

I think that we can all agree that healing is an act of kindness, and of love. The very first step in healing is to know what needs to be healed. To do that we have to listen and listen deeply, without distraction or any negativity.

Deeply listening with kindness and compassion is undoubtedly the
most powerful act of human healing and change.

Compassion is a virtue that all good human beings have, and it is this virtue that provides the motivation for wanting to heal. In order to heal others we must first heal ourselves, especially our emotional minds. Those of us who have been self-criticizing for years, need only to stop and start affirming ourselves. People who make that switch from self-negation to self-affirmation are truly transformed human beings, who then, are well on their way to self-enlightenment.

Several research studies have shown that when you practice and feel compassion, your heart rate slows down, you release a hormone called oxytocin that promotes human bonding, and you feel a sense of pleasure and wellbeing. This motivates you to care for and want to heal other people to ease their suffering. Practicing compassion will also boost your resistance to disease and stress by strengthening your immune system, which accelerates healing.

Heal by Listening Deeply

Deep Listening is allowing yourself or another person to empty themselves of pain and suffering by expression. The way to start transforming yourself into a healer is to first practice kindness on yourself by listen to yourself by emptying your body and soul of pain and negativity. Center yourself and be quiet. Listen to your body and listen to your thoughts. Be mindful only of your breathing. After a little while your thoughts will return. What is the first thought? Work on this first. Just by choosing to take this first step, you have now begun to heal.

Compassionate listening. Listening in this way means to sit in inner silence and be with another person in a positive, heart felt way. With no expectations, to be with the other person while they talk about their suffering, their fears and inner uncertainty or confusion.

Deep listening happens when you listen with more than just your ear drums. It happens when you add your heart and mind, essentially your whole beingmind, body, and soul. When you practice this, you let go of all your thoughts, beliefs, ideas and opinions and just focus on listening to the soul of the person in front of you.

''You can practice deep listening in order to relieve the suffering in us, and in the other person. That kind of listening is described as compassionate listening. You listen only for the purpose of relieving suffering in the other person.''
Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh

Being 'deeply listened to' gives your partner in healing a true sense of healing by and through this process, because it helps them to let go of stress, frustrations, anxieties and sadness. This kind of listening lets true soul to soul communication take place. This intimate healing connection is very effective because we all have a deep need, (even if we won't admit it), to be listened to and understood.

Here are a few pointers on how to deeply listen and be a healer:

Be Mindful. Clear your mind and focus on your task of healing by listening. Make it your intention to listen deeply.

Be Direct. Look at the other person directly in the eye when they talk to you.

Be in Denial. Positive denial this time. For right now you have no awareness of your own problems or worries.

Be Aware. Carefully listen to not only what the person is saying, but also how they are saying it.

Be Observant. Take notice of the way they sit and clearly hear the tone of their voice.

Be Thought Conscious. Be Mindful of your own self-talk and thoughts. These thoughts will pop into your mind as you listen. Immediately let them go and return to deep listening.

Be Free. Let yourself ask questions. Keep them real and genuine and do not change the subject. Let your questions help focus what is being said.

Be Non-judgmental. In deep listening there is no need or room for critical judgments or self-righteousness, because judgement is thinking rather than deep listening.

Be 'Adviceless'. Do not try to solve any problems that are brought up. It is best to avoid this at all cost. You must not try to give the other person THE answer. You are to only help them find it within themselves.

''...a woman who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years came up behind him [Jesus] and touched the edge of his cloak. She said to herself, ''If I only touch his cloak, I will be healed.'' Jesus[God, incarnate] turned and saw her. ''Take heart, daughter,'' he said, ''your faith has healed you.'' And the woman was healed at that moment.''
Matthew 9

True healing is deep, inner listening with quiet, still awareness. True healing occurs when listening mixes with Faith [partnership with God]. In experiencing this still awareness, we know that God is there with us directing the healing process.

Deeply listening with kindness and compassion is undoubtedly the most powerful act of human healing and change.


Compassionate Listening

by Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh


 Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh

Vietnamese Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh (known as Thay in his circles) made a rare visit to the Googleplex to lead a half-day Health@Google workshop in the fundamentals of mindfulness. The exercises and rituals of mindfulness lay the path to optimal health and happiness. Thay may be the second most famous Buddhist monk in the world, right after the Dalai Lama. He is certainly one of the best known and most respected Zen Masters in the world. Thay is a best-selling author, poet, and peace activist who was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize by Martin Luther King Jr. He is a key pioneer in actively applying insights from meditation to solving real-world social, political and environmental problems. Thay most recently published Savor: Mindful Eating, Mindful Life, with Harvard School of Public Health nutritionist Dr. Lilian Cheung. At 85, he's touring North America before retiring to his monastery in France. Life at Google is fast, furious and fun, yet it can take a toll on ourselves and our loved ones. Through Thay's specially crafted workshop, you'll learn how to reduce stress, eat for health, sleep better, find emotional stability, improve concentration and sustain optimal performance. --Chade-Meng Tan