The Upper Street Practice

Osteopathy | Life Coaching               
for Mind & Body               


Learn about ancient Chinese wisdom and the art of listening through ‘Ting’a Traditional Chinese Character.


Ting, Traditional Chinese Characters, listening, mindfulness.

The ancient teachings of ‘Ting’: The art of listening

An Ancient Chinese Performance

Are you aware of the spiritual teachings that have been beautifully woven into the art of traditional Chinese writing? The following example demonstrates this perfectly. It reveals the embodiment of the wisdom of ancient China within a single character.

The character ‘Ting’

The traditional Chinese character for the adjective “to listen” (ting) is a wonderful example of this. It illustrates the importance of complete presence and mindfulness as an integral part of the act of listening—something we can we can all aspire to in this day and age. Embedded within the character “ting” are a conglomerate of smaller Chinese characters that provide a holistic formula to the act of “listening”. 

Complete presence and mindfulness is an essential part of listing—wholeheartedly.

Multiple Components

  • Ear: To hear the other;
  • Ten eyes: To offer our full focus, to make eye contact and to observe (and consider) the wider picture;
  • One: As in ‘you’ or ‘as one’. To listen with the fullness of your being;
  • One heart: To deepen our senses, to show compassion and to listen wholeheartedly;
  • King: To signifying the importance and respect for the act of true listening;
  • Virtue: Formed from an amalgamation of smaller characters. To listen quietly, wholeheartedly, with your complete self, offering others your full attention is truly a virtue.

Simplified Characters

Interestingly, the simplified (modern) version of this Chinese character lacks the depth and wisdom of its ancient predecessor. With much of the original components missing, the modern version reflects a more superficial and somewhat fractured ‘act’ of listening. Could this be reflective of the nature of the modern mindset at large today?

Traditional characters

‘Traditional Chinese characters have so much ancient knowledge and wisdom to share’

says Say Ong—De yin Chinese school in London. ‘Ting’ beautifully reflects the fullness and depth which makes up the ‘true listening’ experience, an ancient and wise example of what it means to listen with the fullness of your being—with Presence. These are qualities that we can all be mindful of and strive to embody today. 



Osteopath and Life Coach serving the central London area:

Upper Street Islington ▪️ Highbury ▪️ Holloway ▪️ Angel ▪️Clerkenwell ▪️Highgate ▪️Hackney ▪️Haringey ▪️Camden ▪️Online life coaching also available.

Kelly Mckay

Kelly Mckay

Registered Osteopath & Integrative Life Coach