I need to be heard. We all need to be heard. That’s not a selfish thing. It’s something that is as critically vital to good health as the air that we breathe.

These thoughts came about because I had dinner with a very good friend last night. She’s a very close friend too. Dinner was fine, however on my way home I felt a dull unsettled feeling that I just could not shake. When I got home I managed to fall asleep but when I woke up I still felt unsettled. I desperately felt a need to ground myself but I did not know why. I started to meditate.

Meditation is my favoured form of reflection. I meditate, then reflect then meditate some more. I always feel better. It allows me to understand my own feelings and my own behaviour which stems from those feelings. Most importantly, it reminds me to be compassionate and gentle with myself. I see my situation from a clearer, less judgmental perspective.

I realized that I was feeling unsettled because even though my friend and I conversed over dinner, we weren’t listening to each other. I think we both really tried to listen to each other – after-all we really are very good friends. However, there is a great deal going on in her life and equally, there’s a great deal going on in my life too. At present, the issues that we are both dealing with are very different to each other.

I believe that we both weren’t able to fully take in each other’s perspective without the filter of what is going on in our own lives. This doesn’t make us bad friends – we are both only just human. Human beings have a need to be heard. And unfortunately last night we were both not in a position to be ‘the listener’. Listening is an art.

Honestly, I believe that I know how to be a good listener. When my own needs are filled, it’s easy for me to be empathetic, unjudgmental and present. Last night for the most part we both struggled to be empathetic.

In restrospect, had I meditated before dinner it would have probably been a different experience. As I am writing this I feel that I have been ‘heard’ – and I actually didn’t need anyone else to hear me, but me.

Because my own needs have been taken care of, right now I am feeling more relaxed, less critical, more open and receptive. And those are the vital constituents required for the art of listening.