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The Art of True Listening

Have you noticed that, when you're caught up in your thoughts, you become completely unavailable for the people you're with? The mental narrative can be so strong, so loud, that there's no chance of hearing anything apart from your thoughts.

How to get the most out of these Wisdom Quotes:

  1. Put aside everything you think you already know.

  2. Open your mind and heart to receive something new.

  3. Take your time going through each point.

  4. Return to any points that particularly touch you.

  5. In the coming days, listen carefully to the wisdom within you.

1. He's Not Listening to Me

JC (Jonathan Cohen): I had a moment this weekend where I’m packing up and I’m going somewhere and I asked my son six times to do something. He’s on his phone and I asked him to put his phone down, and at a certain point I get frustrated.

BK (Byron Katie): What was your thought when you reprimanded him?

JC: My thought is, “He’s not listening to me.”

BK: So now, let’s walk through that. Be there now, imagine you in that situation that you just described to us. Look at him, he’s not listening to you.

JC: I’ve told him this so many times. He’s not listening to me. I regret getting him that phone, I give him too much leeway on it, it’s getting out of control…

BK: Okay, now let’s look at how do you treat him when what you said is running through you and you’re believing the thought, “He’s not listening to me.” How do you treat him? Get really still…

JC: I treat him much more aggressively.

BK: What do you say? What do you do?

JC: I say, “Get off your phone! I’ve asked you to get off your phone nicely.”

BK: So you defend.

JC: I absolutely defend. I explain to him I’m packing up, we have to get to the airport, there’s a thousand things going through my mind... I’m sorry I can’t look at the thing you’re showing me right now.

BK: So now, slow way down and see you there and look at him look at you. The question is, how do you react? What happens when I believe the thought, “He’s not listening to me”?

This is an exercise in stillness and going back and looking at one’s self. Let’s slow it way down and let’s turn it around and let’s check it out. Be there now, look at him in that situation where you’re irritated.

"He’s not listening to me," turned around, "He is listening to me." Now, that doesn’t mean he is. Check it out. It is your truth that sets you free.

JC: He’s listening very clearly to things that I’m not saying, meaning that he’s listening to my energy, he’s listening to my anxiety, he’s listening to the fact that my brain is scattered across 15 things and not acknowledging our reality of the situation, which is that there’s an emotional transitioning happening.

BK: So, waking up to “He is listening to me.” Now I have a space to get still. What have I just said? What am I getting across, when I’m irritated, to my son in this situation when I’m about to lose him until the next visit? Just being still in that.

And then another turnaround: “He’s not listening to me,” and then just softly, “I’m not listening to him.” Be there now, what was he saying through his body language or his words? Maybe you missed something, maybe not. “I’m not listening to him.”

JC: He was being very clear that he needed something from me that I wasn’t communicating. At first, he was on his phone not engaging, and then he began to engage and engage to the point of annoyance because he wasn’t doing the thing that I “needed him to do.” Yes, I wasn’t listening to him at all.

BK: You can always go back (it’s nothing you have to do): “Remember, sweetheart, when we were packing to go and I was so irritated with you? I apologize for that. I wasn’t listening to you and I want you to know that I want to hear everything you say and if I missed anything, would you tell me now?”

JC: There’s so much communication that we’re not paying attention to.

BK: Exactly so, Jonathan.

~Byron Katie, from the video: Byron Katie: Find Out What is True


Have you noticed that, when you're caught up in your thoughts, you become completely unavailable for the people you're with? The mental narrative can be so strong, so loud, that there's no chance of hearing anything apart from your thoughts.

As Jonathan points out, communication comes in many forms, not just words. By recognizing all the noise and judgment that's going on in our heads, we can step back into a place of stillness from which we can begin to truly listen to the person we're with.

See this post in the Facebook Group

2. She Doesn't Tell Me About Her Life

Mother: My adult daughter, Courtney, doesn’t live with me anymore and she called me a few days before Christmas and told me she was moving and I was quite shocked.

BK: Describe to us how you reacted, what you said on the phone to her, your attitude, how you react when you believe the thought 'she doesn't tell me about her life.'

M: I was shocked, I was hurt, I was just devastated at the news. All of a sudden, out of the blue.

BK: So you fell apart? Or did you come at her with an attitude?

M: I did.

BK: So close your eyes. This work is meditation. We’re meditating on a moment in time. You’re sitting on the bed, you see you there, you see you talking to her, You can hear her. Now describe your attitude. Describe how you reacted when you had the thought: ‘She doesn’t tell me about her life.’

M (crying): I was angry, I was really angry. I said, “What do you mean?” I was angry and hurt. “Who do you think you are to just call me up on the phone and tell me you’re moving?”

BK: So, basically, you attacked her.

M (regretfully): I attacked her, yeah.

BK: Okay, so just experience that. See that in your mind's eye, with your eyes closed. She said she’s moving, notice the thoughts, images of past and future that went on in your head when you had the thought, ‘she doesn’t tell me about her life.’ What images of the future did you see?

M: That I just won’t ever see her again.

BK: Yes, and you also saw you alone without her. You saw that as you were sitting on the bed when you believed 'she doesn’t tell me about her life'. And notice the images of the past as you were sitting on the bed. What did you see?

M: I saw her getting on a plane with her father when she was two and saw when she moved out and saw when I haven’t seen her all these years.

BK: Yes. So now, with your eyes closed, see you on the bed without the thought: ‘she doesn’t tell me about her life.’ Just witness you on the bed without the images of past and future and just listen to her.

She’s saying, “I’m moving.” Without the images of past, future. Just listen. Who and what are you without the thought, ‘she doesn’t tell me about her life’? Who are you without these images of past, future, listening to your daughter telling you she’s moving?

M: I’m excited. I’m excited for her.

BK: Just stay there and experience now what you couldn’t experience then. You were dreaming over reality. Understand that’s what’s meant by caught in the dream. There’s a daughter telling her mother she’s moving and then there is mother, the dreamer. And without the dream, the question is who or what are you?

M: Yeah, I’m excited and curious and just in awe of how brave she is at what she’s doing.

BK: The Beatles had it, they said, “Let it be.” Just let it be. Notice. For example, on this phone call, without the dreamer, just let it be and there she is. There’s your baby.

M (nodding): -Telling me about her life.

BK: Even with all the interruptions coming from you, there she was.

M: I didn’t listen to her at all. I didn’t listen to her, what she wanted to tell me and share with me.

BK: But the beautiful thing is you can call her. This is a life pattern of mine - it’s to admit it and to make it right any way I can. And in this situation, it would be to listen, to admit it, apologize and then to just listen and say, “I wasn’t even able to hear you. I was crazy. Would you tell me again about your move? I really am going to try to listen through this head of mine that sometimes has a problem.”

Hard to hear. People scream at us - hard to hear - because we’re believing over it, we’re believing onto it, we’re believing left and right of it.

~Byron Katie from the video: How to Listen Without Fear - The Work of Byron Katie


Here we see a beautiful example of Katie (as she's affectionately called) doing the Work with a mother who was upset because of her thoughts about her daughter. As she guides her through a meditative process of questioning what happened and unraveling her beliefs, we see the clouds of confusion part and the light of truth shining in her situation.

Notice your tendency to believe onto things and to dream up realities that don't actually exist other than in your mind. As soon as you catch yourself doing this, everything calms down (like the glitter in the snow globe when you stop shaking it) and life is much simpler again.

See this post in the Facebook Group

3. I Want Him to Change

Mother: I want my son to be a together student who doesn’t veg out or is confused about his sexuality or eats junk food and sits hypnotized in front of the TV getting fat.

BK: How do you treat him? How do you react when you believe the thought, “I want him to get up and do something constructive”?

M: I get confused and scared and angry.

BK: And how do you treat him?

M: I disconnect, I separate and I don’t pay attention to him. I don’t see him.

BK: Yes, so, let’s see him. Close your eyes.

M (crying): I don’t see him at all, I just see my fear and my projection.

BK: Close your eyes. He’s watching television, he’s vegging out and you’re walking by the room. Now, who would you be without the thought, “I want him to get up and do something more constructive?” Look at him.

M: I’d be loving, fun, funny, productive, flowing, a happy mom. And I’d be present. And when he talked to me, I would listen to what he'd be saying instead of my own monologue.

BK: All you maybe need to take a look at is listening to him without your story interfering with what he’s saying. Just listen. It’s okay to just listen and be open. Close your eyes and look at your son. Who would you be without this story about him?

M: I would see his beauty and I would feel grateful and blessed.

BK: So, with the thought, with your story, there’s this dysfunctional, ne’er do well son and without your story, there’s the real son - not the son you’re imagining but your child, your son.

M (laughing): -Who is actually adorable.

BK: You know, the only thing between you and unconditional love is what you’re believing about your son. And, as you continue to question what you believe, you can’t hold those thoughts. And then, as you know, when you’re doing the work, everything starts to shift.

~Byron Katie, from the video: Byron Katie - My son needs to get up from the couch and be productive


Here we see clearly how our story interferes with true connection. The thoughts that we have about people prevent us from truly listening to them. Once we see this, everything changes and our relationships shift.

Have you been stuck in a story about someone, believing old, repetitive and stressful thoughts about them? Do you want to continue doing that?

If you're ready to listen then you must be open enough to be willing to question your thoughts and drop your story. You have the power, right now, to truly listen and connect with the people in your life.

See this post in the Facebook Group

4. I'm a Listener

"They’d say something and I didn’t come back with an attitude or anger or judgment, and they began to trust it. And so they became more courageous with it, and more and more and more...

So they were allowed to just empty themselves without punishment. And another way of saying that is I listened.

I got to meet their mother and they all three had a different mother.

I’m a listener, I’m not a teacher.

I’m that way with my grandchildren as well. They’re teaching me. I’m very clear about that.

They teach me how to have fun. They teach me how to be innocent. They teach me unconditional love. They teach me how to love a butterfly.

I’m seeing the world through new eyes always and it’s a beautiful thing."

~Byron Katie, from the video: Byron Katie - Find Out What Is True


Here, Katie shares with us how her children responded to her after she had her transformative awakening experience. She was able to allow them to empty themselves without "attitude or anger or judgment." And because she didn't have all those things going on in her head, she was able to truly listen.

We also have a beautiful description of her relationship with her grandchildren. Katie says, "I'm a listener," meaning that she's so open and empty, that everyone she comes across becomes her teacher..

Open to the ones you find yourself with and let them teach you - what to do and what not to do, how to be and how not to be. Become a listener and see the world through new eyes, rather than through the chitter-chatter of a mind that doesn't know itself.

See this post in the Facebook Group

5. Consider These Questions

"Consider these questions:

Can I listen without thinking I know what he really means?

Can I listen without thinking that I know what she is going to say?

Can I listen without thinking that I may, even remotely, have a better way?

Who would I be if I just listened without a story and no longer engaged in the attempt to fix him or win his love, approval and appreciation?"

~Byron Katie


Develop a habit of considering the above questions every time you interact with someone in your life. Begin with the next person who speaks to you. It's never too late to learn to listen without a story.

See this post in the Facebook Group

6. Breaking the Spell Through Stillness and Inquiry

"I see every mind as the enlightened mind and I see the mind very confused as it identifies, or tries to stay identified, as something that it is not. It has to be completely vigilant.

The only thing I know to break the spell is just to get still and identify what mind is believing in the moment and then put it through inquiry and then see what is left.

There are millions of people in inquiry - these four questions - whose lives are shifting, and for me that is waking up to reality.


Being free doesn't come from learning new concepts. It is who you already are once your limiting beliefs have been met with understanding.

I trust everyone. I trust them to do what they do, and I’m never disappointed. And since I trust people, I know to let them find their own way.

The wonderful thing about inquiry is that there’s no one to guide you but you. There’s no guru, no teacher who, in her great wisdom, shows you the answers. Only your own answers can help you."

~Byron Katie


Byron Katie's method of self-inquiry is called the Work and it's offered for free through her website:

There, you can find the four questions, the worksheets to help you do the Work and even the opportunity to be on a call with someone to help quide you through the Work (available in multiple languages). You can also find countless videos on YouTube of Byron Katie doing the Work with people on many different issues.

The reason the Work works is because it requires us to become still and listen to what we are telling ourselves and what we are believing - our story. Once this is accomplished, we are then freed up to truly listen to those around us, setting us free from so much unnecessary suffering and transforming our relationships.

See this post in the Facebook Group