Do you ever sit still and simply listen, engage yourself in the art of listening – not so much to the many sounds and noises out in the world, but to the sounds within you?
If you meditate, you may already do this, simply because you take the time to sit still.
Stillness is the first part of the art of listening, going within yourself to listen is the next. It’s a simple activity, one that will give you bountiful insights into the most valuable resource you have, namely yourself.
There are different parts of you to listen to, and many things to listen for:
You can listen to your heart when it’s trying to tell you the direction you want to follow. This comes from within you, and lives in your dreams and wishes, the truest desires you have, the things you really want.
It’s equally important to listen to your body, so that you can get to know its needs and desires. If you’re in the habit of bossing your body around, criticizing it, and generally looking down on it, if you see it as inferior to your spirit, or that over-thinking noisy mind of yours, it’s time to get humble and grateful and listen to your body’s deep and quiet wisdom.
When you know your own truth and listen to it, you’ll make decisions in your life that guide you in the right direction for you, no matter what anyone else says you ‘should’ do, or how much you are judged for being yourself. This is similar to listening to your heart.
Listen to your breath. Yoga can help you with this one, and you can learn various forms of yogic breathing to assist you. When you learn to guide and direct your own breath, you can connect more with your body, listen to it better, and untie the knots inside of your body. Highly recommended: ‘The Breathing Book’ by Donna Farhi.
Listen to your intuition, that part of you that will guide you well and constantly throughout life. Your intuition gives you all kinds of helpful and practical advice, from traffic directions to whether or not you can trust that person you just met. The more you listen and validate your intuition, the better it will work for you.
What gets in the way of listening?
Noise is the main culprit: inner noise, city noise, radio, television, the noise of over thinking and worrying, the noise coming from others around you. It’s hard to be human and not be subjected to noise. Unfortunately, we haven’t yet made silence and space for quiet a priority in our culture, except in places like libraries and religious buildings.
This is why we need large unspoiled areas of wilderness, of nature. Hearing the wind rushing through the trees, or the sounds of birds and other animals calling, isn’t the same noise that we hear in the city. Natural sounds can be healing and soothing, helping you find your way back to listening within.
Overthinking, self doubt, judgment, fear, anxiety, worry – these are all noisy activities. Each of these will steal from you, and take away your ability to listen. Make it a priority to learn to deal with these negative energies as they come up for you, and you’ll get to know yourself better as a result.
The fears, opinions, judgments, and negativity from other people can be just as noisy. If you’re a regular dumping ground for these nasty energies, learn to say “no” and remove them from your environment. You’ll be amazed at how much better you feel.
There is a constant demand these days to ‘look busy’. If you remember a time when folks thought that new technology would create more free time, you know that just the opposite has happened. Unconscious doing and constant activity, the demand to get it done, be busy all the time, or listen to something outside of yourself, get in the way of doing your important listening.
Here’s a few ways to make the time to do this all important listening.
Turn off the TV, especially if you automatically turned it on to fill the space with sound. If your entire day is filled with constant sounds coming in to you from the outside world, it can help to create a ‘sound-free’ zone for yourself.
Nowadays many of us are expected to be on call and available 24/7. It takes some doing to untangle yourself from this demand, to create the space to have space for you. Try this: turn off your phone’s ringer and put it aside for blocks of time during the day. Step away from constant texts and messaging. Carve out the space and you’ll create it.
Just finding time to sit still and be, is beyond the ability of many people, who are stretched to the limits with “to-do’s”. The demands to check off every item on the list can have you running from morning until night. Why not add ‘meditation time’ to your list, and stick with it, daily? The time you spend giving to yourself will enhance your ability to hear and listen to the most important things.
Some people think they cannot meditate because they can’t still their minds.
They have the idea that meditation must be done perfectly. You must be perfectly calm and still, otherwise you’re doing it wrong and it’s a waste of time. There is an idea that meditation must be taken seriously, or it won’t work. Nothing could be further from the truth.
If you approach your meditation with a sense of humor and play, and let go of the need to do it perfectly, you will get much more out of it. Start by listening to your breath, to your body, without judgment. There’s already enough judgment floating around out in the world without you dragging some of it inside of you.
Listening to that inner voice is the key to uncovering wealth within. This is where the true treasure lives. By slowing down, even for a few minutes a day, you can create wellness in a way that nothing else can do. An interesting effect of doing this is that it becomes easier to hear others speak, to listen to the words, to hear music, once you have learned to listen to yourself.
If you do not express your own original ideas, if you do not listen to your own being, you will have betrayed yourself. –Rollo May