Listening Begins with the Self

What is listening?  This seemingly simple question is the purpose for hosting this webpage.  My aim is to challenge how we think about phenomena assumed to be listening and to raise questions and make claims about the nature of this least taught most used communication ability.  Resources and links to learn about listening will also be available here. Listening, researchers now agree, is a cognitive process that we observe as a behavior; since listening is a cognitive process it essentially begins with the self; no one can listen for you. We do however learn our listening behaviors in a listening community; in fact today we learn our listening behaviors in many different listening communities. Thus it is important to distinguish between overt behaviors and covert cognitive processes. While we commonly talk to ourselves it is fundamentally another matter to listen to oneself.

Here’s an insight I gained from Neil Douglas-Klotz in his book Desert Wisdom that affirms my point: “Our modern world does not encourage depth. It encourages being driven, led, or swept away by our perceived needs, which are often compulsively programmed into us based on someone else’s priorities. Without apportioning blame to education, religion, business, government, or unhealthy family dynamics, one can simply say that, in the modern era, we are not encouraged to be in touch with our own inner, unrehearsed nature any more than we are encouraged to contact the wilderness of nature outside us. As that nature rapidly deteriorates to the same degree that human institutions do, there is a certain urgency for us to contact the depth of our self.” Neil Douglas-Klotz (1995) Desert Wisdom: Sacred Middle Eastern Writings from the Goddess through the Sufis