The process of listening only with your heart is a gift to others and to yourself. Horses have been doing it for ages. They don’t understand our words, but they do understand our hearts.
During the course of becoming an Equine Gestalt Coach, we worked on the art of listening and being fully present in the moment. What I learned is that most of us focus on what we’ll say next, rather than giving our full attention to the person who is talking. In one exercise with another person, as the listener we were asked to look the person in the eye and listen. We were not allowed to respond or reply in any way to what s/he was saying. For 10 full minutes our job was to fully listen without giving any feedback verbally or non-verbally to the speaker. No “Really?” or “What?!” or “Oh, mys!” with your voice or your eyes. Sounds easy, doesn’t it? But, no, I found myself wanting to comfort, encourage, or offer words of advice.
What I learned is that most of us focus on what we’ll say next, rather than giving our full attention to the person who is talking.
The process of listening only with your heart is a gift to others and to yourself. Horses have been doing it for ages. They don’t understand our words, but they do understand our hearts. When we are true to ourselves they respond by their presence, no words of encouragement or opinions necessary. They give us their strength and understanding, so we can find our own awareness and power.
When I put my ego into a conversation, I shut down my heart as my head gets in the way. I am finding that the more I try to explain my actions or my words, the more I mess things up and complicate the meanings. And I ask myself why is it so important that others understand my point of view, or have others believe my way of thinking instead of theirs?
Have you ever been excited about an experience, explained to someone it in detail and waited for the person you’ve told to be excited along with you? It surprises you when they go back to something you said at the very beginning that caught their attention, so much that the whole rest of the story was lost to them? Have they been truly listening with their hearts? Or thinking about what they were going to ask you? How does an experience like that feel to you?
In a world full of distractions — phones, internet, television — it’s harder and harder to listen from the heart, to give your full attention to others.
As a coach, I practice listening, allowing the person to fully complete sharing an experience. I often find that the best part of the story comes when they understand that you have truly heard them. Being vulnerable and opening up your heart takes courage and strength. By having the horse fully present and myself fully present, it is easier to open up your heart and figure out what would help you move in a positive direction in your life.
During my drinking days, I spent many evenings talking, but never listening. My life in recovery is so much fuller, listening to others and myself. If you’re talking yourself into that next reason to continue in your addiction, listen to your heart and not your head. Reach out to another who is willing to listen. Our horses and I are just around the bend, ears perked and hearts open.