At a key moment in a conversation when you’re ready to dive in and say your piece, try pausing instead. Breathe. See. Listen longer. Did you hear everything that wanted to be spoken? Did you give the precious being before you the space to blossom?

When you hold back from immediately interjecting your opinion or pre-forming a response to someone who is speaking (or wants to speak), you open yourself to the tender truth that might begin to shine when you fully listen. In place of automatically filling the silence, this practice gives others the spaciousness and safety to speak their hearts, and can reveal deep offerings behind shyness or trauma. There’s another blessing here: learning to trust the grace of the unknown. What will emerge if you surrender to the unspoken mystery for just a few more moments, and witness it taking form before you? 

Try this with others, or with yourself: in meditating, making a decision, or even simply writing a paper for class. What might show up if you free yourself from your arsenal of responses and filters, even for a moment? How can listening longer illuminate your daily life?

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