The following article is a guest post from Mimi Lewis. Mimi has written a series of posts for her final project, which is required for graduation from our Hot 26+ Teacher Training course. She is looking forward to graduation in May 2018. You can read more of her posts here.
THE DIALOGUE: LEARNING HOW TO MINDFULLY LISTEN
As a student in hot yoga teacher training course, I am writing a series of six posts to show how what we’ve learned in the course can be applied to life in and out of the hot yoga room. This third blog is about learning how to actively or mindfully listen to what is being said. As it turns out, there is a whole world of research and knowledge about how much this can improve our everyday lives and relationships. It’s also made a difference in my yoga practice.
We are so inundated daily by sounds and distractions, so it can be challenging to get still and absorb the words spoken by others. Research suggests that we only remember 25-50% of what is said, so if we converse for 10 minutes, we pay attention to less than half of the conversation (mindtools.com). Think about it. How many times have you had a discussion and walked away trying to remember what was said? It’s not intentional, but for many of us we aren’t aware of how we are listening. Perhaps we are just distracted and not focused on what’s being said. It all starts with learning how to be self-aware and mindful.
As part of the course, we have a mindfulness teacher, Mimi Sherman, (breathe-mindfulness.com) that has spent time with us discussing this very topic. She has shown us how being present and listening when someone is talking so you actually hear what they have to say can change the outcome and dynamics in many areas of life. She provided us with information written by Theo Koffler, a mindfulness teacher which states:
“Listening seems like a natural skill, yet it requires attention and practice to stay present and truly hear what another person is communicating. The mind tends to wander, and our internal narratives and busy thoughts fragment our attention and sap our ability to stay focused in the moment.” Being a good listener is an art and it starts with awakening the mind to what is being said.
One of the main distinctions about Bikram yoga is that the teacher leads you through a moving meditation by telling your body what to do through the spoken dialogue. The student depends on every word said so the posture is carried out in the way in which it was intended. After 15 years of doing this class, I have discovered just how much I was missing by not truly listening to the words spoken. It has taught me to listen like it’s my first class again. There is so much more there than I realized and it has made a difference in adjustments in the postures. As a result, I see physical and mental improvement. All because I am learning to HOW to listen.
Bringing this to my attention in the hot room has also brought awareness for me in my everyday life. Whether it’s at work, home or a social setting, taking the time to listen has made a difference for me. There is a sense of observation and awareness that funnels a deeper level of understanding than before. It can make us feel more connected to each other and strengthen relationships because it shows respect, interest and genuine concern.
Mindfulness teacher/focus trainers David Rome and Hope Martin have developed three techniques for becoming a better listener (mindful.org/deep-listening). They are:
- Mindfulness: Awareness meditation-This is a sitting meditation with emphasis on being bodily present (mindfulness of body, life and effort).
- The Alexander Technique: Teaches how to develop equanimity and not be pushed or pulled by life circumstances.
- Focus: Cultivates three vital inner skills: self-knowing, caring presence and intuitive insight.
Becoming aware of how to listen has been eye opening, and it continues to evolve for me in my practice and when conversing with others. As we have learned, it all starts with self-awareness and that is half the battle.
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