illustration of woman holding an ear

Deep Listening Could Be Your Greatest Superpower

by | Nov 13, 2021 | Blog

photo of Melissa Farley

Written by Melissa Farley

Sometimes it’s hard to be consistent. For example, right now. It’s Monday and every Monday I committed to writing a blog. This was set in place to makes sure I stay on top of content creation and not just only write when I “feel like it.” Smart. Totally effective and has been a great system for me. But today…. All I want to do today is read my crime noir book, take naps and watch Hocus Pocus.

But I’m here. I showed up. I showed up for myself and for you and that feels good. This got me thinking about a lot of the people I talk to who keep saying they want to commit to something and establish a new healthy habit, but just can’t seem to make it happen. In previous blogs I’ve talked A LOT about habit stacking or batching, making it a priority by blocking off and scheduling time in your calendar and other tips, but there is also something to be said for simplicity. Aka “Keep it simple, stupid.”

When I committed to blogging every Monday, I DID NOT commit to writing 3 blog posts in one day, or making sure every blog was 4 pages long or pre-planning my content topics. I made it simple. Just blog. Just write. Just be honest. Keep it simple. You can do that with something like meditation too. In fact, it might be easier if you do. You don’t have to create a whole big ritual or pay for an expensive app or program or plan to sit on a mat for an hour when you are first starting out.

Two years ago, when I began my practice, I started with just 10 minutes a day. I did eventually fall in love with the Calm app and have an annual subscription with them, but if that’s not your jam, try something like this. Try connecting with your senses on a deeper level. Sit, stand or lay down in a comfortable position. Keep your eyes open or closed, it’s up to you and just start to become aware of your surroundings and yourself in your surroundings.

Take a few moments and explore what you can see. This shouldn’t be a challenge to see ALL the things or focus extraneously on any one thing, just allow yourself to be open to what you naturally gravitate to. Do you see lovely art hanging on the walls, dog hair on the carpet, a tree moving with the wind outside of your window? Take it all in.

Then move to smell, touch, taste and hear.

The one I most connect to is hearing or listening. This is a such a powerful sensory experience. If you can practice this in nature, it’s even more wonderful. I recently read an article about deep listening. It is the idea that we listen with our whole bodies and true listening starts from within from a place of self-awareness. I teach in my improv class that listening is your true superpower. You cannot be a great actor, a great leader, a great communicator, a great speaker, a great anything without first being a great listener. There are methods to grow this ability to yourself and I have included some helpful links below.

This practice also holds true to the core fundamentals of meditation and mindfulness because it encourages being fully present in the moment and equanimity. You are not trying to control or change anything you hear, you are simply witnessing and observing it. There are no good sounds and bad sounds. Just sounds. Remember, keep it simple.

Try connecting with your senses on a deeper level

I had a purely magical sensation happen when I stood among the mighty redwood trees.

This is something that I found fascinating – We not only hear by registering sounds, but by feeling certain vibrations from those sounds. For anyone who has done a sound bath immersion, gotten chills during a live musical performance or felt whole body connection to something or somewhere in the great outdoors, you know what I’m talking about.

This happens a lot for me with music, which is why it can actually be difficult for me to have music on as a background sound. I am so sensitive to it, it impacts my moods and emotions and physical responses quite easily. I had a purely magical sensation happen when I stood among the mighty redwood trees.

We were in a religious sanctuary in Oregon, and I had never been near a redwood before. As I approached it, I felt an immense calm and inner strength rise within me. There was a deep and profound understanding that these trees, these creatures knew and were remarkable wisdom. I could feel their energy and their spirit and for the first time I understood the urge to hug a tree. I know it sounds cheesy, but it is totally true. I gravitated toward this tree so strongly, that I felt compelled to touch it. To close my eyes with my body connected to it and just breath it in and listen and feel. There was nothing like it and I’ve been begging my husband to do a trip to Sequoia National Forest ever since.

There are music therapies, biofeedback programs and other things that use these sensory benefits to help with healing and reprogramming of the brain. But you can do it too, all on your own. You can get in the practice of deep listening and make it your introduction to a meditation practice. Listen to the sounds of nature or find music or soundscapes that speak to you, awaken you, calm you, ignite you. My friend Scott Haskin, whom I recently interviewed on the Stronger Today Podcast, has a series called Mental Sauna where the music is designed to match the vibrations of the human body. I encourage you to check it out.

It’s also been scientifically proven that Baroque music can increase focus and brain activity, so if you’re studying, working on something creative or have a big project to tackle, try listening to a Baroque playlist on Pandora or Spotify and pay attention to if you notice anything different about how you feel or function.

One of my favorite sounds that fully connects to my soul and transports me to serenity is the sound of running water. It doesn’t matter if it’s falling rain, a waterfall or the shower running, it all has an immediate impact of releasing tension and opening me up. What is that sound for you?


Deep Listening by Mindful.org


Let’s #ShineStrong Together