Unsatisfying communication is rampant in our society: in relationships between spouses, parents, and children, among neighbors and co-workers, in civic and political life, and between nations, religions, and ethnicities. Can we change such deeply ingrained cultural patterns? Is it possible to bring about a shift in the modes of communication that dominate our society? Contemplative practices, with their committed cultivation of self-awareness and compassion, may offer the best hope for transforming these dysfunctional and damaging social habits.
A fruitful place to begin work on shifting our patterns of communication is with the quality of our listening. Just as we now understand the importance of regular exercise for good health, we need to exercise and strengthen our ability as listeners.