The Art of Active Listening

philosophy Jan 12, 2021

When we receive a case, it is the homeopath’s job to listen and record as close to verbatim as possible everything the person says. This requires active listening. We are listening and writing at the same time. This is not a difficult task once you have practiced it. One of the challenges I see in students is learning the art of active listening. This is not the same as everyday listening. It requires us to pay very close attention to the words the person is saying and the context they are using them in.

This is not conversational listening. This is active listening and demands focus and using both sides of our brain at the same time. People speak to give voice to their thoughts. They are telling you the content of their mind. Some have the ability to speak untruths to a greater extent than others. But in the end, even the most sincere person will bend their truths and paint slightly different realities than exist. This is fine for the homeopath because what they bend in facts they make up for in the descriptors used to tell their story.

Descriptors are the words that surround the facts. They are the real juice of the case and will describe the remedy and tell you most often what is asking to be healed. These are the adjectives and adverbs that describe the subject of the sentence. These words and phrases will be where the imagination of the person will be exposed. This is the truth of their story. It is something that we usually do not alter to share our facts, even if facts are true or not.

If we listen to someone's story as if it is a conversation we are having with a friend, we will be using the output of our mind to maintain the conversation. We are always formulating ideas about what someone says through the filter of our own experience. When we respond to a person in a social conversation, we are responding to the images and output of our mind. We are giving voice to our thoughts. If we listen to a case in this way, we will be failing to truly HEAR the person. We will be listening with our own thoughts, ready to respond.

Active listening requires us to calm the inner thoughts of our mind and pay very close attention to each word a person is saying. In case receiving, we are NOT having a conversation. We are listening actively without prejudice. This means without the prejudice of our own thoughts interfering with what we are hearing. Thoughts arise when case receiving and I tell my students to let them go. I suggest they acknowledge them but not to focus on them. Let them go as soon as possible so that they can come back to the present moment in time and again listen actively.

There will be stories that the client shares that will illicit an emotional response in the homeopath. At that moment, the homeopath is lost. They are in their own story and emotions. They will not hear anything from that moment on until they are out of the emotion. This means to be an unprejudiced observer, one must not be in sympathy with the client. Empathy is fine to fully feel their pain but not share in the experience with them. Sharing that experience is sympathy and you will not be able to help if you are in sympathy.

Active listening is not a doing activity. It is an allowing or letting go. It is quieting the mind so that our thoughts are not pulling our focus away from the words the person is using. It is more akin to a very aware meditation state than anything else. To achieve this state, one must be practiced in the art of listening; truly listening, paying attention to the words that are used. Those words are not accidents.

At the same time, one can allow filters to exist in the mind that allows the mind to place the words into context. Because we are all well versed in conversational listening, this level can be experienced at the same time. There is no effort in achieving any of these states other than breaking the habit of conversational listening. This effort is best done before the case begins by setting one's intention and allowing the focus of active listening to proceed.

It does take some practice, but once the homeopath starts to get the feel of it, it becomes second nature. I do not always engage in active listening during my everyday life. But when I am being a homeopath, I ALWAYS do active listening. It is a part of being a homeopath for me. It is the decision to now let go, focus, and hear everything the person is saying and doing. This means without prejudice and full awareness.

When you practice this kind of aware and active listening, you will feel different about your role in the case. You become part of the case through empathy. The case will fill you up rather than you having to struggle to figure it out. Trust that the person will share with you everything you need to know to find the correct remedy and they will. Some cases are easier than others. But when this method is used in your daily practice, you will be amazed at how much easier homeopathy is and how much more gratifying your job as the homeopath will be.

Keep the conversation going! I would love to hear your thoughts and questions below!


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