Lisa Weinert


September 17, 2023

Lisa Weinert

By Lisa Weinert

mbg Contributor

Lisa Weinert is a certified yoga instructor with a specialty in trauma-informed and restorative yoga.

Young woman listening to her friends in a cafe bar

Image by kelvinjay / iStock

September 17, 2023

We’re talking to each other more than ever before, immersed in near-constant communication between texts, Zoom meetings, emails, comments sections, and DMs—but that doesn’t mean we’re listening. In fact, studies show U.S. adults take in and comprehend less than 25% of what they hear in an average conversation.  

And there are very real consequences; When we don’t listen to each other, we find ourselves engaged in unnecessary conflict, including toxic conversations, fights, and major misunderstandings. We also lose connection to our own voices, and the stories we’re meant to tell. 


This ad is displayed using third party content and we do not control its accessibility features.

But here’s the good news: listening is teachable and renewable. And it all begins with you. 

The power in listening

Listening is a natural instinct, just like eating, breathing, or sleeping. We’re born good listeners, but somewhere along the way most of us forget how to listen. Sometimes it’s safer for us, emotionally, to block out the things around us and close ourselves off. 

But when done thoughtfully in safe conditions, listening can be a form of care. It’s a way to make space for people and uplift their voices. Listening helps us become better partners, better coworkers1, better friends—and it even has health benefits. Listening lowers cortisol levels, which helps us to relax, and in turn helps us open up to the listening process.  

But there is a reason we don’t listen more: most of us are caught up in various stress responses due to daily pressures in our lives. Individual and collective trauma, illness, corporate burnout, compassion fatigue, and many more obstacles face us each day. Our bodies need to be relaxed in order for us to truly listen—but if we can’t relax, how can we listen? 

When you listen to all the parts of yourself, you offer healing and attention to areas that have been ignored. And as you do this for yourself, you practice doing it for others.

This kind of listening has very little to do with sound coming in through the ears. It’s about offering your full presence and attention to the world around you. Begin by offering yourself your full attention.  

The best, most time-honored way to deepen your listening is through stillness and relaxation practices. They strengthen an overall orientation toward stillness. Some may work better for you than others.  

You can achieve meaningful listening results by practicing one or more of these relaxation exercises, meditations, and breath exercises: 

The best place to start listening is with yourself. Listen to the stories your body is holding—the stories your body is cooing, singing, or screaming, and the stories your body is whispering or keeping to itself.

Offer yourself a body scan, beginning with the soles of your feet and moving upward. Ask each part of you if it has a message to give you. Some parts may be louder than others. They may speak in pain, pleasure, temperature, or tension. Be receptive to it all. 


This ad is displayed using third party content and we do not control its accessibility features.


Allow yourself to relax

Stories need digesting, just like food. Take time to rest and listen attentively to the stories you’re carrying. This might take the form of a nap, a yoga class, or a run. Whatever you do to find relaxation and release will work.

An easy practice to take with you as you move through the world is to take a few rounds of breath to center yourself before entering a conversation, and again after the conversation has ended. 

Meditation is a form of listening. Try seeking out moments of silence throughout the day and embracing them. Begin with one minute, then three minutes, and move up from there.

As you listen, you can begin to embody your own healing potential for yourself and for those around you.  

Learn how to fill your health gaps in 90 seconds.


Listen to your ancestors

Old stories impact your creative life. They can carry inspiration and guidance. Sometimes their voices encourage and sometimes they hinder.

Your ancestors also don’t need to be blood relatives. They can be important influences and guides, both real and imagined. You can ask them questions aloud or in your mind, write letters, connect with images or relics—it’s personal and up to you. 

Every emotion has a natural wavelength—a beginning, middle, and end. And every emotion has an inherent wisdom and message. Emotions exist to direct our actions.

For example, anger can inspire action, sadness can inspire slowing down, happiness can inspire connection, and so on, but we often cut them short and lose meaning in the process. Let your feelings rise and fall. Label them and sit with them.  


This ad is displayed using third party content and we do not control its accessibility features.

Carve out time in your day to practice listening. Turn off your phone, power down your computer, and do whatever you want in this hour. It could be reading, drawing, writing, or staring out the window. This will help you cultivate a listening space. 

Do nothing. Let others come to you. Allow someone else to speak to you without any interruption. 


This ad is displayed using third party content and we do not control its accessibility features.

The takeaway

A successful listening practice begins with developing a consistent practice of listening to yourself. If you don’t know the stories you’re holding, you can’t pick up on the stories the world is sending your way. In a time already dominated by polarity and discord, it’s never been more important to catch the stories that we’re sent. The power of listening can do a world of good, in a world that needs a lot of good. 


This ad is displayed using third party content and we do not control its accessibility features.