Listening...sounds easy, right? You just sit there and stuff goes in your ears and voila! Listening happens!
But that's so very, very wrong. Hearing is unintentional. Your head-bone's connected to your ear-bone. Your ear-bone's connected to your autonomic nervous system bone. In other word, your ears, like so many other features of your slowly decomposing body, are on auto-pilot all the time. You can't help hearing. Want to test that? I used to enjoy the day-after reports when I gave my classes this assignment. I think you'll enjoy it too.
|Laurie Swartz engaging in some Total Intentionality |
during a massage session with Pokey. Shortly after this was
taken, Pokey proposed to Laurie who, sadly, turned her down.
Wait till your (hopefully non-violent significant other) is asleep. Watch his or her eyelids until you see the balls under them gyrating as s/he follows the action on the internal dream screen. That's REM sleep, and it's the best time to get even for slights, real or imagined. Once you're certain the "subject" (got to be scientific here to excuse this terrible behavior) is dreaming, whisper a few words into his ear. Yelling "FIRE!" is probably in appropriate as you'll wake the beast, but whispering it will suffice. Now go away and leave him alone until he wakes up. When he does (and you have to do this immediately as only "lucid dreamers" hold on to their dream memories for very long), ask him quickly what he was dreaming about. You'll generally get a response along the line of, "Really weird stuff! There I was about to tap Brittney Spears, and the whole place suddenly went up in flames!"
S/he heard you, and the autopilot allowed the ear-bones to incorporate what was heard into the current experience.
Now that you're a believer, let's see what you can do about your intentions. Intention means that you actually meant to do that, not that you just said "I meant to do that" to cover your own idiocy. I want you to mean to hear. Hear intentionally. Listen! That does mean you need to 1) put the cell phone down and stop talking to it, and 2) stop your internal dialog, the one that runs through a daily checklist of everything you hate about everyone in your world and how wonderful you really are (or vice-versa). Just listen.
If you can do that for a few seconds, you can do it for a few minutes. Before you know it, you'll be listening on purpose when your kids/husband/co-worker/family pet are trying to get through to you.