It seems crazy to me now to think that for over 30 years I was unaware of the true value that listening can add to life. However, it was only 4 years ago that I began to really understand the concept of listening.
When I started to think about writing this piece, an obvious route presented itself. I could have talked about listening, the different types of listening and how you can develop listening as a skill to improve your leadership capabilities and, ultimately, to improve your relationships, both personal and professional. Then I thought “that’s what everyone writes about when they write about listening.”
So, I’m going to give you a different take on the Art of Listening, inspired by my recent visit to The Self Realization Fellowship in Encinitas, the very space that Parmahansa Yogananda wrote his inspirational book “Autobiography of a Yogi”. If you’re not familiar with Yogananda then it’s definitely worth doing a bit of research. Steve Jobs declared this book to be “life changing” and a copy of the incredible book was given as a final gift to those who attended his funeral when he passed.
Yogananda was a spiritual leader, a guru and a vessel of love. He taught his followers and disciples to practise meditation and a form of yoga known as Kriya Yoga. A huge part of his teaching was centred around tapping into the omnipresence of all that is that resides within each of us. Whether you call it intuition, source energy, universe or God is irrelevant, Yogananda encouraged people to look in one particular direction, to look within.
Now you may be wondering, what the hell does this have to do with listening?
You see, around 4 years ago as I transitioned into the world of personal development, following my experience with the shaman (as per my last blog), I suddenly had what seemed like an enhanced ability to listen on a whole new level, not only to the world around me but to the voice that lies within. It’s no surprise that during this period of transition I was magnetically drawn to read Yoganada’s Autobiography of a Yogi for the very first time!
Before that life-defining moment on my journey, the voice within was so quiet that I was unaware it even existed. Upon reflection it’s now clear that although I was relatively intuitive, I would regularly override my intuition, favouring logic instead and often operating out of a place of fear. Can you relate to that?
Have you ever had a gut feeling, a knowing that you were making a decision that felt “wrong” to you and yet you went with it?
With this new-found awareness and what felt like a super power being turned on, I hired an intuitive healer and coach to help guide me on developing my intuition even further. Now if this all sounds a bit “woo woo” to you, just bear with me for a minute and let go of preconceptions. Intuition is very real and the voice that resides within is always with you; you just need to practise listening.
“Intuition is soul guidance, appearing naturally in man during those instants when his mind is calm....The goal of yoga science is to calm the mind, that without distortion it may hear the infallible counsel of the Inner Voice.” – Parmahansa Yogananda
Intuition is our 6th sense but sadly it is a sense that we all too often ignore, choosing instead to navigate life with the 5 physical senses we are most familiar with. As awesome as our 5 senses are, our 6th sense of intuition is truly incredible and can be trained and developed just like any of the others. Not too dissimilar to a sommelier when it comes to their ability to taste and understand wine, we can develop our intuition in a similar manner.
Why is it important to listen to the voice that resides within?
What I’ve personally found is that it enables you to lead what I describe as a Guided Life.
I’m not suggesting for one moment that we ignore logic or the incredible gift of the conscious mind and our ability to think, in fact the opposite. I’m encouraging you to listen for the voice within to guide you in your choices, to point you in an initial direction and then to use your incredible ability to think, plan and strategize to enhance your life! This is what true intuition is, the perfect blend of a head and heart approach to life.
When I began to tap into this internal reservoir of guidance and practised deepening my ability to listen internally, remarkably, what I found was that my ability to listen to the external world around me vastly improved. I began to hear what people were truly saying and I also became acutely aware of what was not being said. I suddenly began to hear the words people used and the energy, meaning and feeling behind them. I was able to attune my 6th sense to their energy and frequency, leading me to ask deeper questions and to share my observations, which often led to profound insights within others.
As I trained to become a coach, further listening skills, models and theories were shared with me and, to be honest, I was blown away by the Art of Listening. One particular theory I fell in love with was Otto Scharmer’s 4 Levels of Listening. I loved practising listening on Level 4 - “Listening from Source” or “Generative Listening” where you can “connect to an emerging future possibility” from the space of Open Will. Otto Scharmer describes listening from this level and how it empowers ...
"you to connect with who you really are and who you are moving towards.”
What thoughts or observations are coming up for you as you digest this information?
It would be great if you can take 5 minutes to consider:
“Do I have an inner voice?”
“How can I develop my ability to listen to my inner-voice?”
“If I was more in tune with my own inner voice, would it improve my ability to listen to others?”
Learning to listen has completely transformed my life and I know just how big an impact the ability to listen deeply can make in both a working and family environment.
Don’t hesitate to reach out if you would like to explore the art of listening further! I always love to connect and hear your thoughts and feedback ... and I promise to listen with an open mind, an open heart and an open will.