Active Listening: How to Bring Mindful Awareness to Every Conversation

When we practice giving others our full attention, we strengthen bonds and make new discoveries. Here are three practices for staying grounded, present, and connected in conversation.

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Q.

During conversations, I often zone out and don’t do active listening. How can I be more attentive to the person in front of me?

A.

As a practicing cardiologist my most valuable tool is my ability to maintain mindful awareness throughout each interaction. If I miss an important detail someone is sharing, it could mean the difference between disconnection or trust, and between illness or health. Life is no different. When we practice giving others our full attention, we strengthen bonds and make new discoveries.

How to do Active Listening to Every Conversation

Here are three practices for staying grounded, present, and connected in conversation:

1. Begin with intention. Recall your intentions for any interaction. These might be to alleviate some- one’s suffering or fear, to give them space to share what’s most important, or to live into your own purpose as a friend or healing influence.
2. Be here now. Ground yourself physically, becoming aware of how your body feels. Accept and embrace whatever sensations may be present. Use the calming and settling power of the outbreath to relax into the dialogue.
3. Keep returning to this gift of being present. Recognize that the mind’s tendency to wander might get in the way of hear- ing what this person has to say. Notice when your mind leaves “the now” and heads back in time or into the future. Gently and firmly bring your attention back. Repeat as needed.

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