The Gift of Listening

February 11, 2016

While shopping at a local grocer the other day, I was greeted by the cashier by the usual “hello ma’am, how are you?” I responded “I am well, how about yourself?” At which point he shot back “I can’t complain, but not like anyone would listen if I did.” Being an acupuncturist and Healer my heart sank for this man, I of course quickly responded back to him “well, I heard you.” He nodded and gave a gracious smile.

This very brief exchange has stayed with me for over a week, it has caused me to think about how the act of listening is lacking in our society. Lending your ear is one of the greatest gifts we can give to another. Yet, when was the last time you sat with a loved one and asked how they were, or if they needed something, and really listened? Simply sitting with someone and letting them speak freely without judgement costs nothing, but yet so few take the time to do so.


As an acupuncturist, we learn how important active listening is when evaluating a patient. Being able to hear exactly what the patient needs from us, what the patient is specifically feeling is what we crave to understand. For instance, a patient comes in with neck pain; I ask the patient to tell me about the pain in specific detail (without interruption). When it comes to Chinese Medicine hearing that a patient has sharp, dull, tight, spasm, or constant pain all mean entirely different diagnosis’s. The act of listening is a skill that acupuncturists don’t take for granted, we know it could mean the different between a successful or unsuccessful treatment.

So why have we all stopped listening? Perhaps it is the distractions from the hustle and bustle of the city we live in? Perhaps we all just prefer to text instead of talk to one another? I am sure the reasons could go on, who really knows why we have all stopped verbally interacting with one another. Unfortunately, this trend is spreading quickly. In my acupuncture practice, I am finding patients are now even apologizing for talking (for what they believe) to be for too long a period of time. It BLOWS my mind every single time I hear “sorry, I don’t mean to ramble.” Perhaps people feel the need to “ramble” because when they finally have the opportunity to be heard they simply don’t know where to begin? Sometimes, I believe lending an active listening ear is all some patients are really craving. Allowing someone to speak freely without judgement, and actively listening to their every word is what healing is all about. Emotions are heavy, speaking them out loud to someone that hears you can be liberating. I have ears that work, why not use them?

So please, do not be sorry, keep talking, I care and I am listening.

Stay Healthy, Warm, & Zen!