There are benefits to listening with compassion. What happens as the news about the clashes between groups with different ideologies reach us? Those clashes lead to the death of protesters and first responders. Many suffered multiple injuries.
I felt emotionally, spiritually and mentally affected by these events. These injuries lead to intricate, delicate feelings and sometimes judgments begging for compassion. They wanted out, to be allowed, accepted. They begged for my compassion.
Most people do not listen
with the intent to understand.
Most people listen
with the intent to reply.
–Stephen R. Covey
Listening to understand
A group of people, hosted by IACT, met recently to discuss compassion. These meetings are an exercise in listening. Listening, while learning not to be in a hurry to respond. Many would agree that listening with a group that is willing to follow basic rules of courtesy offers a less challenging experience.
Like minded people easily show courtesy. Even so challenges may pop up. You may hear comments that evoke a twinge, a pang, a sweetness, a strong opinion, an agreement, a disagreement. We learn to deal with our own reactions.
One problem I experience is when a speaker tries to insist that you agree with what they are saying before continuing. What’s your pet peeve?
The hope is that the practice will help you notice your reactions to the speaker with compassion. There are no guarantees. It is a practice.
Yoga, compassioNATE listening
Yoga is another practice in listening. That is, if you show compassion for yourself and want to prevent injuries.. During almost every yoga class, the teacher may ask
“What moves does your body want you to make?
“How are you feeling today?
“Is you energy high or low?”
“Are there any requests?
These are all ways of listening and addressing the needs of the body with the body. It’s a practice.
Compassion for self
What’s most important to remember about compassion is that it starts with our own selves. During a discussion you may experience ease or unease. Depending on how you feel and think about what you’ve heard coming our of your mouth or from the other person’s mouth.
Can you feel compassion for yourself when you feel uneasy? Do you feel that you are loosing something because of the uneasiness?
No act of kindness is ever wasted. – aesop
It’s feels good to accept that there is a range to compassionate acts. You may not be willing to participate in a compassionate act that makes you feel as if you are suffering. You may only be willing to perform a small act of compassion. Why not make it ok to start with something small.
A nod, a smile, acknowledgment of another through eye contact, give a dime or a quarter, a hug, a pat. Perhaps a friendly gaze.
If you’re up to it, compassion may involve a significant act. One person spoke about allowing a homeless person to live in the yard in a tent
Keeping a focus on compassion during these difficult times will not only benefit you but may benefit those with whom you interact. It’s o.k. to take small steps. If the practice doesn’t benefit you in the way that you would hope or if you feel that you are not making progress fast enough, have even more compassion for yourself.
I find myself listening with compassion as I hear words that bring a feeling of unease in the media. I hope that you will too. It’s a practice. There are no guarantees.