Lend More Ears

By Andrea Baber

First of all, thank you to Rebekah for raising awareness about National National Awareness Month Awareness Month. As another member in Doyle’s Listening Behavior class, I too had the idea to use the Bolt to raise awareness about listening, as March is International Listening Awareness Month (it is also Endometriosis Month, Exotic Winter Fruit & Leeks and Green Onions Month, and National Eye Donor Month).

In particular, I want to encourage you to think about the concept of mindful listening. As Rebekah said, it is all too easy to appear to listen to others – to glance up and nod, so you appear mostly engaged. Mindfulness is to be attentive and aware, fully present and checked in to the moment that one is in. In other words, not thinking about the past or projecting into the future, but being in one’s body; engaged. In the book Dubliners, James Joyce wrote about one of his characters: “Mr. Duffy lived a short distance from his body.” I don’t know about you, but I feel like that sums me up fairly accurately a lot of the time. However, when we started doing mindfulness drills in class, I found that I actually am capable of just being wherever I am; present in mind, body and spirit.

At this point in the semester my brain is on information overload, as I’m sure is the case for many students, and that makes it that much easier to more or less ‘check out’ during class, and do the pseudo-listening thing. One experiment Doyle suggested was, when we find ourselves in boring listening situations where we are likely to tune out – certain classes, for example – we should engage in attentive behaviors. This would include things like leaning forward, focusing on the speaker and acting as though everything they are saying is completely fascinating. Because what then will happen is that the speakers, who suddenly realize they are getting your full attention, will become interesting, and they themselves will engage more in the subject they are speaking on. They too will get a chance to practice mindfulness, and you will get the blessing of knowing you could help (not to mention, it could probably make somebody’s day).

So there you have it. As Rebekah pointed out, the world is full of beautiful stories. Let’s listen carefully, and be part of one another’s stories.