Helping someone in need

Frequently in our lives we will come across people who are suffering.  Friends, loved ones, even strangers.

Sometimes we don’t have the answers to their suffering.  And sometimes answers are not what is needed.  What is needed is our presence, and our willingness to listen.

Listen deeply as they express how they are feeling.  Listen with your whole being – not just your ears.  Listen with your heart, your eyes, your total presence.

Listen in silence, without talking.

Give space for them to speak, and acknowledge their pain and suffering.

And through your intuition, caring and compassion allow them to reveal themselves and their feelings.

Often just by being present, and by listening fully and openly (and with acceptance), we help to alleviate their pain.  And nothing else is needed.



How we are

I have a friend who is going through a tough time at the moment.

And it’s made me very aware of my desire to improve my listening skills, and also to provide more comfort and wisdom – in this specific situation, and also future situations.

It’s easy to get caught up in worrying how to address someone’s suffering….. what advice to give, and the fear of either giving the wrong advice, or just not providing the level of comfort that we would like to, and not being able to relieve their pain.

I’ve come to realise though that what a person who is suffering most needs is our presence.

What they most need is someone who will “walk alongside” them in their suffering.

And the level of comfort that we can provide to them along the way is largely a reflection of how we are.

“How we are” is influenced by our perspective on life.  Our experiences of joy and suffering.  How we have addressed those in our own lives.  And how they have changed us.  

How we are is also largely dependant on our ability to sit with our fears.  Our fears of inadequacy and the expectations we place upon ourselves.  And then release these fears and expectations.

And ultimately remain compassionate, loving and receptive towards the other person.




Everyday Wisdom #77

Listening skilfully is challenging.

To listen fully – with complete attention is a discipline.  It requires attention, practice and resolve.

It requires gentle persistence.  And the ability and desire to get ourselves back on track with our attention wanders.  

And it requires an ability to listen not only to what is being said, but what is not being said.

Listening fully and deeply is something I am very passionate about, and passionate about learning more about .  So in coming weeks I will be exploring this topic further.  I would love to hear your experiences on this topic.

How are you a good listener?  What do you think makes a good listener?  

Be well my friends ♥


“The most basic of all human needs is the need to understand and be understood. The best way to understand people is to listen to them.”

— Ralph Nichols



The gift of listening

Have you ever truly been listened to?  

Have you ever had someone give you 100% of their attention?

Perhaps they didn’t even say anything, or offer any advice.  But they just deeply listened to you.

It’s one of the most precious gifts you can give someone.  Your full attention.

Sometimes that can mean listening to someone discuss a problem.  Without thinking about what advice you are going to give them.  Or what you would like to say.

Other times it can mean listening to someone with an open and fresh mind.  Perhaps they are telling you something that you have heard many times before.  Can you listen with a beginners mind?  Is there something you could pick up from the story that you haven’t heard before?  

Deep listening is one of the ultimate ways you can show respect to someone.  To show them you believe what they have to say is valuable, and worth listening to.

The goal of deep listening is to be touched by the other person and to hear the essence of what he or she is saying.

Following a conversation with someone, how much would you be able to repeat back of what you heard?  

How much were you really listening and paying attention?

And deep listening doesn’t just have to apply when you are having a conversation with someone.

How often do you “tune out” when you are listening to information being given.  Assuming that you already know?  And that you’ve heard it before?

For me it brings to mind “the 3 defects of the pot” (I heard this during a wonderful dharma talk today).

This can be related to a cooking pot.  

The first defect relates to cooking in a dirty pot.  If you cook a delicious meal in a pot that has rancid leftovers in it, the meal is never going to taste nice, no matter what beautiful ingredients you use.  

In that way, it’s similar to having a lot of preconceived notions about what you are listening to.

The second defect is having an upturned pot.  

Which means that you are not listening, or taking anything in.

The third defect is a pot with a hole in it.

You listen to the information being given, but you don’t take it in.  It immediately empties from your mind.


Really listening – to someone, or something – can open up your mind to a whole new level of awareness.


“To listen fully means to pay close attention to what is being said beneath the words. You listen not only to the ‘music,’ but to the essence of the person speaking. You listen not only for what someone knows, but for what he or she is. Ears operate at the speed of sound, which is far slower than the speed of light the eyes take in. Generative listening is the art of developing deeper silences in yourself, so you can slow our mind’s hearing to your ears’ natural speed, and hear beneath the words to their meaning.”
Peter Senge



Everyday Wisdom #40

Just ask

When you ask questions during a conversation, you let people know that you care about them, and that you are interested in what they have to say.

You also send a subtle message that you are a bright, and inquisitive person who would like to know more.

And best of all it shows that you are really listening.

Tip:  Ask a question…then shut up. This is a foolproof way to listen. Think of yourself as an interviewer


A wise man can learn more from a foolish question than a fool can learn from a wise answer.
Bruce Lee