The Secret Power of Listening


“The first duty of love is to listen.” ~ Paul Tillich

Listening is a skill that has not always come easy to me. I have had the opportunity to grow over the years with the help of some very skillful teachers and methods at Kripalu Center, where for the last twenty years I have had the great fortune of being both a student and teacher.

Listening can bring potency to virtually all aspects of life — personal, professional and spiritual, but it can also be one of our greatest challenges. Are you able to quiet your own thoughts and put aside your need to figure things out, to create space to listen, really listen, to the person in front of you speaking?

Do you find yourself butting into your friend’s story to offer them your solution before they’ve even finished?  Do you sometimes try to get your own words in, to make yourself heard, instead of truly listening?  Can you simply be with another’s words, taking them in, letting impressions wash through you before interpreting and responding?  Listening can be difficult – we may feel we want to be helpful and fix the other person, or perhaps be reminded that we ourselves want to be heard.


What’s interesting is that people who listen well are respected, trusted and sought after. Good listeners can be so rare that when you’ve found one, you don’t want to let them go, because you feel connection, like they understand you;  you feel special, heard, important and that you matter — which you do — and a good ‘ear’ gives you this confirmation.

The secret power of listening is that it fosters connection and brings us closer together as human beings. Unity! Your ability to listen helps everyone around you feel respected, honored and seen, whether its the mail person, check-out clerk at the grocery store, our children, family, beloved, friends, workmates or even that person who annoys you.  Feeling more connection and togetherness instills peace, belonging and can increase relaxation within the mind, emotions, and the nervous system.




One of the first communication methods I learned at Kripalu is still my favorite is Co-Listening.  This is great to do after a yoga or yoga nidra practice or class, with a friend or partner.  This technique helped my husband and I learn how to listen to each other in the beginning of our relationship.  It turned arguments into understanding and for that I am truly grateful!

Here’s How

  1. Sitting shoulder to shoulder, hip to hip with another so that you’re facing opposite directions, you each will have a turn to play the role of ‘listener’ and ‘speaker’ roles.
  2. Set a timepiece to chime after 2-3 minutes,  or more if you like.  Speaker #1 shares their authentic truth, speaking in “I” statements about themselves and what they notice in this present moment. (E.g. it could begin with reporting out how your body feels “My leg aches… my belly feels great…” and go from there).
  3. Imagine the listener has big ears, a big heart, and no mouth! The role of listener is to simply receive what the speaker shares without needing to fix the person or respond in any way.
  4. After the chime rings, take a few deep breaths and switch roles.


Jennifer Reis Yoga copyright 2016.

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