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The Art of Listening With All of Your Ears

Pearl with waffle listening
If ever there is a time to listen with all of your ears, it is when you find a delicious crispy waffle prey and there are poachers afoot!

I have more than one set of ears.


When this thought first occurred to me the other day, I was genuinely surprised I hadn’t realized this before now.

After all, I’ve had 48 and a half years to date to figure out that “I” means more than just my physical body with its two physical ears.

It didn’t take me nearly that long to learn that, in addition to my physical self, I have an emotional self, a mental self, a relational self and a soul or spirit self.

But until only recently, I didn’t realize that each one of these selves has also come equipped with its own handy set of ears.

This means that, instead of two ears, I actually have 10 ears.

That is a lot of ears!

And they are always listening. In fact, they live to listen….literally.

Like pelicans flying in a “V” formation, one set of ears will take the lead for a time, battling the headwinds but also charting our collective course. Then, when the circumstances shift to indicate another set of ears is better suited to take point, they will swap places.

When I first wake up in the morning, often it is my spirit ears that are in the pilot’s seat. We meditate, and as the rest of me begins to come to, my mental ears take over for a shift to recount the events of the evening just past (including its usual assortment of vivid dreams). This recounting then often triggers emotions, causing my emotional ears to perk up and move into place for their turn to lead.

Then my back or bladder or tummy gets testy and my physical ears finally assume command for a spell.

And so it goes.

This is really quite a neat little system they’ve got going. They work well together, so well that sometimes they will even lead in tandem if an unfolding situation seems to warrant it, trading information and chatting amongst themselves about strategy as we go along.

But this only works to my benefit if I am paying attention and listening with all the sets of ears I’ve actually got.

My physical ears are tuned to the frequency of my physical body. Their sole focus and responsibility is to keep their ears to the ground (so to speak) and passing along relevant details about my physical health and wellbeing, or lack thereof.

My mental ears are tuned to the frequency of my mind. These ears are in charge of monitoring my thoughts (bless their hearts – that’s gotta suck), organizing the thoughts into categories, prioritizing those categories and delivering summaries to me to do with what I will.

My emotional ears are tuned to my heart frequency. They listen for any blips on the radar across the full spectrum of my emotional landscape, noting how my heart lifts every time I lay eyes on a certain set of feathers or one of my two sweet shells, recording the zigs and zags of depression or anxiety as they come and (hopefully) go, steering me clear of influences that might overly manipulate my emotions, such as triggering songs or stories, that sort of thing.

My relational ears are tuned outward, taking in any signals that pass between myself and other people. As you might imagine, their job can be a dicey one, but they do their best to pick up on subtle or not-so-subtle relational cues so we can adjust my impact as may be needed.

My spirit ears are tuned within in the general direction of my highest self. These ears receive and summarize intel from all the other sets of ears, add their own input to it and then do their best to relay the bullet point version in the form of intuitive guidance.

To say I need all of my sets of ears would be an understatement. The fact that I am just now really starting to realize I even have all these sets of ears is a flat-out shock.

But at least now I know.

Now I know that when I am having trouble decoding a dream, I can turn to my mental ears for help. When I am feeling something I can’t quite put my finger on, my emotional ears are on the job to help me. When I ache or yawn, my physical ears are already standing by to tell me what my body needs. When a connection with another seems off or unsure, my relational ears are there to shed some light.

And when my spirit feels restless, disconnected, euphoric, at peace, or something else altogether, my spirit ears are at my service, in service to my own greater good and the greater good of all.

Today’s Takeaway: Have you ever wondered about how you receive information from different parts of yourself? It might not be “ears” – perhaps another analogy resonates more closely with you. How do you communicate with your body, mind, heart, spirit? What has helped you navigate important but challenging relationships?

The Art of Listening With All of Your Ears

Shannon Cutts

Parrot, tortoise & box turtle mama. Writer. Author. Mentor. Champion of all people (and things) recovered and recovering.

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APA Reference
Cutts, S. (2019). The Art of Listening With All of Your Ears. Psych Central. Retrieved on June 4, 2020, from


Last updated: 18 Aug 2019
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