By DukhNiwaran Kaur
Love comes in many forms. I have been exploring the power of listening and am learning that it can be a profound expression of love. Deep, full-bodied, whole-hearted listening not only expresses our love for the other person, but it evokes between us the Universal Love of the Divine.
Deep, full-bodied, whole-hearted listening is simple, but not easy. It requires us to set aside our own agenda, our ideas, and our ego and hold the person before us in highest regard as if we are talking to God (because we are!). Our only agenda is to listen with love, especially when the other person has something challenging to say to us, or about us!
Full-bodied, whole-hearted listening is not a quiet, impassive thing. It is empathic, emotionally responsive, attuned and validating. What does that mean? It means that in a neutral state of egolessness, in a Divine state of love, we actively reflect back the message our beloved is communicating.
We listen completely in service to them—in order to fully hear them, understand what they are saying (and not saying), and reflect in our body language, emotional affect, and words that we GET where they are coming from. We can only do this without our own agenda in the way (don’t worry, our agenda and version of the story will get its time too). Our only agenda is to hear, attune to, and validate their experience. This is listening. This is loving.
Our presence in this way of listening heals the deep hurts that emerge in our relationships. The fields of communication, neuroscience, and psychology all explain how this healing happens. But as yogis we experience the healing vibration of the Shabd Guru in the state of deep listening and know that this energy creates a karmic healing that transforms us completely. As Guru Nanak tells us again and again in the Suniai Paurees of JapJi (Paurees 8-11), deep listening heals all wounds and brings us into eternal bliss. “Nanak bhagata sada vigas, suniai dookh pap ka nas”.
Not only do yogic teachings remind us of the power of listening, but our yogic practice can help us get there. Our sadhana builds our capacity for neutrality and our connection to Divine. Mantras can re-connect us to this space in the face of adversity. Mentally chanting Sat Nam and Wahe Guru will bring us to our needed neutrality.
Consider the power of the Mul Mantra to carry us over to this loving space. The Mul Mantra reminds us of the qualities that we share in the Divine. It reminds us that we are one with God and that God’s expansiveness resides within us. It reminds us that the truth within us is Divine and that Nirbhao (beyond fear) and Nirvair (beyond animosity) can take us out of the polarizing we do in relationships.
We connect to our strength when we remember that we can be beyond fear and animosity. Self-containment, Saibhang, gives us the ability to focus on the other and contain our version of events in grace. And all the bliss of connection will come as Guru’s gift (Gur Prasad). All we need to do is meditate and repeat (Jap).
The state of the yogi in union with Divine is the state of loving. In relationships, deep listening in this state can expand this lovingkindness to our beloved and create deep love between us. This deep love has the power to heal us and others. Isn’t that what healing the world is?
DukhNiwaran Kaur Khalsa is a Professional Teacher Trainer, Sikh Minister and LGBTQ+ advocate. She lives in Chicago with her wife of 30 years and their 2 cats.