"Hearing with the heart improves our focus, memory, and connection with what needs to be heard and understood. Hearing with the heart is an action of discipline, which transforms hearing into empathic listening." --Suzanne Kyra

Hearing—the first sense developed in utero—connects the fetus to the outside world. Hearing translates sound waves, while listening is our mind and heart attending to what we are hearing. If the sounds are melodious, they soothe our body; if the sounds are harsh, they place our body into a defense mode of self-protection. Hearing is the umbilical cord that grounds us to each other. Because sounds can intimately touch our memories, generating sensations in our body and images of times past, it is important to discern which sounds soothe and move us, and choose to expose ourselves to those sounds, for example, by listening to our favorite music first thing in the morning. Be aware of sounds that cause tension and work at avoiding them; practice relaxing your body when exposed to harsh sounds. The ear is a delicate organ that needs protection from extreme sounds to remain healthy.

I Have Learned
... that hearing is much more than discerning the sounds coming to my ears. To hear well, I first need to care for my psychological health—the place where hearing becomes empathic listening. To physically care for my hearing requires attentiveness to the sounds and stillness around me. I can carefully evaluate the impact sounds are having on the health of my ears and nervous system. To hear with my heart is to stay open and focus on similarities between myself and others, while appreciating our differences. I have learned that sound is a vibration that causes a myriad of responses in my body. These responses can be senses of calmness, warmth, tension, fear, or anger. The more sensitive I am to the vibrations around me, the more capable I am of making sensitive, empowering choices. As with each of our senses, hearing links our bodies to the outside world.

Musings on Hearing, With a Sense of Carefulness
With carefulness we can better attend to what we are hearing. How were you heard as a child? How do you hear your needs? How well do you listen empathically to yourself? How attentive are you to hearing and empathically listening to others? What do you associate with your favorite sounds?

To hear yourself and others, remember that all you need is a curious, inquiring mind and an open heart. This requires melting your defenses by moving away from distrust, fear, and expectations. It requires you to discern what you are hearing and what you need. To protect the delicacy of your ears you need to avoid exposing them to loud sounds.

My commitment to enhancing my connection with the world by empathic listening is ...

The above is an excerpt from Welcome Home to Yourself: A therapist and photographer explore the meaning of life through individual lenses—a mother and son’s journey published in 2008 by Relationships Matter Publishing Inc. www.suzannekyra.com

Author's Bio: 

Suzanne Kyra is a Registered Clinical Counselor, self-empowerment specialist, workshop leader, international speaker, consultant, and clinical supervisor at the Psychology Clinic with Simon Fraser University, B.C., Canada. She is the author of the award winning book, Welcome Home to Yourself, which is about living authentically in harmony with self and nature. Kyra has over three decades experience in all areas of human development, and is an expert in developmental stages, parenting, intimate relationships, and abundant living.