Originally appeared in Planet Jackson Hole

Hearing what others have to say is a gift

Truly listening to someone with whom we are talking is considered an advanced spiritual skill because it involves being able to quiet your mind. This is the same goal in meditation, yoga and martial arts. A quiet mind allows the soul to be present in the foreground.

What typically happens in everyday conversation is as soon as the other person starts sharing, our mind immediately launches into a flood of mental chatter. Our own internal thoughts can quickly become so absorbing that our attention is totally diverted from the other person. All of a sudden you are having a conversation with yourself, which takes the stage and your attention away from the speaker. You might be hearing their words, but you are no longer listening to them. From that moment on, there is no personal connection or authentic communication between the two of you.

On the other hand, the ability to put aside your personal mind chatter and be fully present to someone else creates both connection and intimacy. Notice that another way to look at the word "intimacy" is "in-to-me-see."

Really listening to another person means attending 100 percent to the person speaking to you without formulating your own opinions, interpretations, judgments, or suggestions. It also means not reflecting on any of your own experiences, ideas or memories related to what they are sharing. This is also called being actively present.

Here are seven benefits of just listening:

Not traveling around in your own mind while the other person is talking creates room for them in your psyche and in your heart.

You are demonstrating to the other person that they matter.

You are creating a non-judgmental, safe context for the other person to be their authentic self with you.

This allowing atmosphere offers the other person the pleasure of being seen for who they truly are.

You are able to experience them clearly without interference because you are able to control your "monkey mind."

The other person gets to feel the beauty of your presence.

It goes without saying that when the tables are turned and you are the one talking and he or she is attending 100 percent to what you are saying, you are the lucky one who feels met, seen and appreciated.

Maybe you have seen James Cameron's movie "Avatar." Perhaps you recall that when the highly evolved (though primitive looking) Na'vi people greeted each other, they would look deeply into one another and say, "I see you." They were looking into and validating the soulful depths of the other person. In a similar way, when you really listen to another person, you can truly experience who they are. They also can appreciate you, and both people have the delicious experience of being seen and accepted. This is a great gift. PJH