Brody: Listening with your heart

Two weeks ago, I wrote about patience. I kept referring to the importance of listening, and I used the phrase “listening with your heart” several times.

I got some responses wanting to know what exactly does that mean and how do we do it.

At the time, I had been working on a column about life’s purpose, which had me digging deeply. I laid it aside in trying to honor these questions about listening.

I began looking through all of my notes, old columns, quotes by people I admire and I found a column from Feb. 8, 2011, for The Winchester Sun.

I believe this quote was the beginning in my intense interest in the art of listening with your heart: “My Creator gives me the courage to share, and the courage to listen.”

It is a Native American tradition to sit in a circle and talk and to share what is in your heart.

The talking circle is also a listening circle for them. It allows one person to talk at a time for as long as they need to talk.

Is it a coincidence the creator gave us one mouth and two ears? The power of the circle allows the heart to be shared with each other.

What we share with each other also heals. When we talk about our pain or our joy in the circle, it is distributed in the circle. The talking circle works because when people formed the circle, God should be in the center.

I believe everyone has a story and whether we realize it or not, we all want to tell it. But the only way the circle can heal us is if the people making up the circle know how to listen.

Sound easy? Apparently not.

Be honest: How many of us have felt safe enough to share our story when we know the listener is no more interested in listening to us than the man in the moon.

I know I have. I have watched as their eyes wander, their body shifts and they even look at their watch.

Here I am, truly wanting and needing to share my story and my feelings, and there is no one to listen with their heart.

Did you know it has been proven someone who knows how to listen finds it possible to take someone else’s pain, joy, tears and stress?

Who among us has wished we could literally take a loved one’s pain or fear? We would gladly do it but did not know it was possible.

Well it is possible and it all depends on our ability to listen with our heart.

The Native Americans get it. So they began years ago sitting in a circle, making listening more natural and easy.

Here at our assisted living facility, we’re doing the same thing. Once a week we gather in a room and we talk. We get personal. We get earnest. We tell our stories.

At first it didn’t work because we didn’t feel safe to do it. But now it is beautiful to see each resident open up and know everyone there is interested, truly listening, even feeling what they are feeling.

Yes, God, our creator is in the center of our circle. We are safe to talk and be heard.

So we need to come to it and sit and open to hear each person’s words and their feelings.

So, how do you listen with your heart?

You must open your mind so you can join whoever is sharing. Remove trivial things cluttering your thoughts.

Remember, it is not about you.

Be silent. Don’t give advice unless it is asked for.

The Native Americans tell us it takes courage to share and courage to listen — that is listening with your heart.

The view from the mountains is wondrous. 

Jean Brody is a passionate animal lover and mother. She previously lived in Winchester, but now resides in Littleton, Colorado. Her column has appeared in the Sun for more than 25 years.