By improving our conversational skills both physical and spiritual, we can enrich our lives and that of others.
How often do you fully listen to what someone is saying to you? Equally, how frequently do you feel heard? My partner believes that when you listen with your heart as well as your ears it is a sign of love and respect. I can see why, as to me it shows that the listener cares about what the speaker has to say. I believe that feeling valued is a fundamental component of happiness.
Still, I’m sure we have all been there, deep in conversation with someone, only to find that somehow our attention has drifted away. Off into a daydream, we go with little awareness. In the past, for me, this often happened at the point that was most crucial. Annoyingly so as I would come back into the present just as the other person was looking straight at me for my response! Next came the embarrassing bit as I had no idea about what they had just said.
To my frustration and that of the speaker, it would mean I would have to get them to repeat the whole thing again or worse guess. This got me to thinking that I need to find a way to improve on my listening and speaking skill on both a physical and spiritual level. So I got my yoga teacher head on and this what I learnt.
1. Use the breath to listen
In my research, I found that if I remembered my deep yogic breathing when in a conversation it helped me to hear. I would inhale through the nose and out through the nose, deep into my belly. In a short space of time, this helped me to stay present to what the person was saying. Also, by holding onto say a desk or another surface, this would also help me to concentrate as it made me conscious of my surroundings.
The more aware we are of what is happening in this moment, the more likely we are to listen with all our senses.
2. Stop trying so hard and relax into your conversations.
Yes, the more I would try to listen the more I would tell myself I couldn’t. It was very frustrating until, instead, I decided to tell myself that I was, in fact, getting better not worse. If someone started a conversation and I drifted I would be honest, start it again but instead of panicking I instead relaxed into my breathing and learn to enjoy listening more. With time, I have learnt to relish conversations instead of worrying about them.
By having the mantra, I am a good listener; you will in time start to believe this.
3. Let them finish before you think about what to say
I think I use to act out of insecurity. As the person spoke, I would hear the first bit then spend the rest of the time thinking of the best response. I was terrified of saying the wrong thing! Consequently, it mean I didn’t hear, stay present nor show a real understanding of what was being shared! I now listen to everything they have to say, pause and then respond.
I have learnt to let go of the need to be right. It doesn’t matter if myself or the other person agree. I value what they have to say and in turn, they respect me.
4. Learn to listen and speak from the heart.
It’s good to rehearse things sometimes like when giving a speech or presentation. Being rigid in our approach means we spiritually miss out. The best conversations are where we let the words flow through us as if speaking from the heart. It’s easy to tap into doing this by mentally sending the energy from the head to the heart and listening to our inner voice as it fortifies our words with compassion and love.
5. Don’t be afraid to speak with power
True power is not about conquering or controlling others to be the same as you. The need to do that I feel is down to insecurity. Instead, it’s about speaking your truth with compassion, understanding and respect for yourself as well as others. I learnt a long time ago that you are never going to please everyone and you shouldn’t try to do so. Instead, be the best version of yourself that you can be. To quote Sai Baba, before you speak, is it kind, is it necessary and does it improve upon the silence?
6. Finally, stay inquisitive, curious and intrigued
Conversations can be fascinating if we remember the above. The joy of learning and reflecting is good for our soul. Don’t forget to have fun along the way!
These are just a few ideas of how to be more conscious in your conversations. I would love to hear your opinions, experiences, and ideas on this matter!