Listen with your Heart
How often is it that we truly give someone our attention when we are supposedly listening to them? And how often are we pretending to listen to them, all along listening to our own thoughts instead? When we are not listening to someone, it is because in that moment we are not caring about them as much as we are caring about something else. Our attention goes to what we are caring about most in that moment.
Oftentimes, what we care about in that moment is not what we really deeply care about in our heart of hearts, but we find that it is difficult to keep our minds away from: our anger, our fears, our anxiety, our attachment to our pride, our embarrassment, our shame, our pain, our desire to be in control, our feelings of being unwanted and unloved, our hunger for something we do not have.
For example, when a wife and husband are having an angry argument, they are caring about their angry emotions more than than they are caring about the other person. They don't truly care about the anger – they don't even like it or want it. It feels horrible. Nevertheless, in that moment, they are attached to the anger they are experiencing more than they are caring about the other person. In this condition, they may be technically hearing the words that the other person is saying to them, but they are not at all listening.
If they were to really listen, deeply and with genuine concern, they might discover what is going on beneath the surface. They might hear: “Please help me. I am so afraid right now. I feel helpless, alone, weak, hurt, broken. I am confused and don't know where to turn for guidance, for safety. I feel like my life is gone. I feel empty. Please love me.”
As living beings, we have a natural desire to connect with others. To love and be loved. But when our consciousness is drawn away from this loving nature by the desires and fears of our mind and senses, we become disconnected. We may hear the words of others, but we cannot make real connections with them and so communication is cloudy, Disharmony and quarrel, chaos and confusion take over, covering our hearts. This happens not only with husbands and wives, but with parents and children, between siblings, friends, and so on.
The heart contains within it a deeper intelligence that can allow a person to reach beyond the surface appearance of things and connect to the essence of a situation, the heart of the matter. If you listen with this deeper intelligence, you can discern what is really important and what is not - and focus your energy, your attention, accordingly. But when it is covered by fear, anger, envy, greed, selfishness, etc., it cannot be easily accessed.
In order to cultivate deep and meaningful relations with others, we need to develop a foundation of real love and concern for others. When this foundation is present, you can listen to others with genuine care, with gentleness, with compassion. You can put aside self-centeredness and work together to try to find a beneficial solution to a problem. And, even if no good solution seems immediately apparent, within the heart you can find a common place of peace and love to rest in - moving forward together from there.
This state of being in harmony with the heart, of being loving with others, is our natural state of being. It has simply become covered by the results of misguided choices we have made in the past – choices that have taken us away from the most authentic, joyful, and meaningful aspect of ourselves. Although our hearts are now covered, they can be uncovered.
Mantra meditation has been utilized for thousands of years to help a person to uncover their true loving nature. By practicing mantra meditation daily, your heart and mind will gradually become cleansed of misunderstandings, misgivings, and other sources of pollution. As your heart becomes purified, real love - selfless love, unconditional love – will be able to blossom there.
When we truly love others, we are naturally concerned for their well-being, so will honestly want to cultivate meaningful, loving connections with them and try to relate with them in harmonious ways. This does not mean that we will automatically have harmonious relations with everyone, but if we sincerely, humbly endeavor to listen with our hearts and also respond with our hearts, we can certainly have a good relationship with anyone who is truly wanting to have one with us. It may take a little effort or a lot, but it is doable. Mantra meditation will help.