Buddhist Deep Listening for Compassion

Buddhist Deep Listening to Relieve Suffering

Fourth training, of the Five Mindfulness Trainings in Buddhism, teaches that loving speech and deep listening allows people to unburden their hearts. Being compassionate means deep listening without offering criticism. How does just listening make a difference to others? You aren’t supposed to make suggestions or critique or offer advice. What can be gained from what looks like a one-sided conversation? Buddhist deep listening shows compassion.

You are Valued

We know that listening shows a person that he is valued. It is self-evident that people do not spend time on that which they do not value. The message of spending time listening to another is a positive, loving message. The message is “you matter” and “you are valued as a person”.

Deep Listening

Buddhist Deep Listening for Compassion


How does Deep Listening work?

When a person has a chance to let out some of the anguish, through speaking and having an attentive listener, it helps him move pass the suffering. But how? He could realize the futility of holding onto a grudge. He could begin to come up with concrete ways to deal with his suffering. He could put it into perspective.  For example, while he has suffered or continues to suffer, there are other things in his life on which he can choose to focus.

Perhaps, giving people an opportunity to talk about what they are struggling against helps them to start thinking critically about their struggle. Sometimes people tell themselves little things that aren’t exactly true. Something like, “I always have bad luck.” when there are good things that happen to them also. Saying these things out loud can shine a light on the stories we tell ourselves. This may occur when something is said out loud that contradicts something else we have just said out loud and it brings it to our attention that we hold a cognitive dissonance. Logic prevents us from being able to say things are true when it contradicts something else we hold as true. When we become aware that we are thinking contradictory thoughts, we have to reexamine the narrative we are playing in our minds. Awareness is the first step toward change.

Recommended Reading

Who is Thich Nhat Hanh?

No Mud, No Lotus: The Art of Transforming Suffering