Bring with you into your day the commitment to listen wholeheartedly in all the moments when someone is asking for your attention and presence.

In contact with a friend, listen with awareness and spaciousness.

Listen with your heart, sensing the reaching out to forge a connection with you and be fully present.

Listen with patience, noticing the moments when with impatience or boredom you start to disconnect. See if you can bring your attention back to be fully present.

Listen with openness, instead of preparing your responses or waiting for a lull in their speech so you can say something you deem to be more interesting or important.

Notice if there are moments when you start to judge whatever they are recounting to you. Sense whether it is possible to let go of those judgments and renew your commitment to being fully present with the person in front of you.

Bring awareness into those moments in your day when you are listening to someone who is distressed or angry.

Sense what happens in your own body, mind and heart as you listen to distress or anger.

Notice how you may be prone to stop listening as you prepare your defenses or retorts. Sense if you feel hurt or helpless as you absorb the words of another.

When faced with someone who is enraged, it may be helpful to explore what it means to stay connected with that person without being lost in the barrage of their words. Are you able to sustain eye contact with them, sense the pain or frustration that underlies their anger, and listen without feeling attacked? Are you able to leave their anger with them rather than feeling you need to defend yourself or respond in kind? Listening to someone who is deeply distressed or in pain can be deeply challenging.

As you listen to someone recounting to you their heartache, notice if as a reaction to feeling helpless, you begin to search for formulas or prescriptions to "fix" their pain. This may not be what is being asked of you. What is being asked for is a compassionate presence.

Faced with someone in distress, explore what it may mean simply to bring a compassionate, open stillness that can receive that sorrow.

Experiment with listening to yourself as you speak, sensing whether your speech is a genuine expression of care and sensitivity. Are you saying what you wish to say, communicating what you most need to communicate? Are you able to listen to your own heart and mind before the words are spoken?

Christina Feldman in Heart of Wisdom, Mind of Calm