Listening is the act of mindful hearing.
Is there a difference between listening and hearing? Would you rather someone hear you …or listen to you? What if you were a composer? Would you prefer your audience to hear your music or listen to your music?
At its root, hearing is sensation. It’s the perceived sound which lands upon your ear. The idea of “hearing” may suggest that it’s limited to only what you perceive through your ears. But it can embody something larger. You can experience music with your other senses. You can feel a bass drum thumping, you can see the connection between a beautiful motion and the beautiful sound it emits (or an ugly one for that matter). If you’re close enough, you might even smell the fragrance of the musician or that of an antique rosewood fingerboard! Your senses enlarge what you “hear”. As one moves forward on the perception continuum of hearing and listening, you can conceive the point that listening is larger than hearing itself.
Hearing comes before listening. Hearing is the seed of listening. But listening won’t self-germinate without attention. Hearing is passive. However, listening is an active and dynamic garden. To listen, one must lean in to (literally or figuratively) what’s being heard. It’s a willing act that nourishes and brings forth the fulfillment of listening.
With enough willfulness, hearing becomes listening which is the complete embodiment of active and mindful hearing. It’s the summation of your unique experience and sensation of what’s mindfully being heard. Listening is large. It transcends the senses. It requires all of you. Are you listening or hearing?