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  • Earlene Gleisner

Listening is an Art Form

I thought I understood what the act of listening meant. I am learning that it’s not a simple matter of keeping my ears aware of sounds. The art of listening is multi-dimensional.


Listening to our environment was the first focus I understood. Living next to a Cal Trans truck yard, a service road, and a freeway, I tune out these cluttered tones and intensities so I can concentrate. Problem is, I tune everything else out too.



Many years ago, when we lived deep in the woods, I remember silence. And I remember I would get nervous when I heard a car travel through the canyon, wondering who that might be. After we moved to a plateau overlooking the 101 freeway, I sighed with relief. I was back in civilization. I was not alone, and I felt safe again. So, I’m adjusting my judgement of current sounds.


Listening to other life forms was one of the beauties of living off the grid for 33 years. There were clucks and caws of the resident ravens, gobbles of wild turkeys, howls of the coyotes. Rain pelted the roof; fog collected there and dripped down the gutter spouts. Snow settled softly in the meadow and on the deck. Wind whipped through the various trees making a different voice through each. All these sounds delighted me then and they do now when I stand in a place where I can notice them.


Listening to each other is more of an art form for me now. Listening to general conversation is one thing. Listening deeply to another’s words is paying attention to what they are saying while noticing their breathing pattern, how words tumble from their mouth, what they say and what they don’t say. I’m even listening to the spaces between their words. I watch the lift of their chin, the dullness or shine to their eyes. Then I notice how well they are listening to me. Conversations feel dull when we tell our stories back and forth so fast there’s no pause between our ‘tellings.’ Like we are competing with each other for the best story, rather than drinking in the history of each other’s experiences.


Listening to our self is the more meaningful to me now. The chatter of my brain distracts me from paying attention to what is going on within my body. After a zoom class about “Cosmic Flow” by Masami Covey and “Orgasmic Living” by Patty Alfonso, I give much more attention to the messages of the cells of my body. This human overcoat is a wondrous gift that helps us do the work we were meant to do here this lifetime. How can I take care of it, if I do not listen? For instance, my stomach tightens when I think about eating certain foods, a statement that it doesn’t like my idea for dinner very much. And every time I ignore that message, I get stomach distress.


I am learning to listen to muscle tension around certain obligations, people, ideas, and movies, etc. My body is telling me what it can and cannot handle, who is too toxic, what will disturb my dreams.


Paying attention and acting on this personal messaging system becomes the best training for improving intuition and recognizing my long-lost passions. Here is the seat of happiness and the determination of gratitude. Here is my connection to spirit-given guidance.