What is it to listen?
Is listening the same as paying attention to something?
Not quite. Listening has a receptivity to it. We are opening ourselves to receiving information.
Listening has a natural STILLNESS to it. Animals remain still and quiet while they listen. A horse will stop chewing, stop breathing, and freeze while listening.
To listen we are still, quiet, attentive, and receptive.
A ‘noisy’ or ‘inattentive’ mind cannot listen as effectively as a quiet and still mind. Someone who has a busy mind cannot listen. They cannot hear. This is why emergency responders are trained to talk loudly and clearly and to repeat information over and over. They know that a stressed person cannot take in information. Emotions get in the way of being receptive.
A quiet receptive mind is a tool for listening.
When we listen with our ears we are receptive to sound waves, pressure waves, passing through the medium in which we are bathed. We are receptive to waves of energy hitting our eardrum and being interpreted as sound.
Our sense organs are specialized for registering certain information (eg., ears for sound waves, eyes for light waves) but it is the mind that organises what to sense. Mind unconsciously pre-selects filters for perception as we aim our attention on something. We can therefore only sense that which we are attending and which our pre-selected filters register.
Although sense organs are specialized for receiving certain information, they are not exclusive. Humans, for example, show a strange phenomenon called blindsight when a person who is blind can still know what is in front of them without seeing it with their eyes. They just know but don’t know how they know and may not be able to identify all its attributes but something, some information has been registered. We also find synesthesia in people who have cross over sensory input; seeing numbers or hearing colours, for example.
Our mind limits, filters, and prioritizes for relevance what information we receive and so we Qigong practitioners cultivate our quality of mind, our ability to attend and listen; to enhance our sensory interaction with, and receptivity to, information.