Feel free to read this on the fly: then set time to spend with yourself
So the invitation this week is to listen, and to hear. At this point in civic life, the level of static is profoundly distracting, exhausting and dissonant. At the same time some voices are newly heard, and deserve our thoughtful attention, engaged response, and discerning amplification.
We all have times when we are both interested and able to be attentive, and times when we tune out – out of habit, out of actual self-protection or out of defensiveness. Some of us listen to ourselves as we write/so we can write. Some of us are professional listeners, whether paid or volunteer: we listen to clients, patients, colleagues. In Zoom meeting after Zoom meeting taking notes is my way of listening and not spacing out.
A listening practice: DO try this at home, not while driving
In the same way that we can practice softening our gaze as we move from one Zoom room to another, I invite you to soften your listening.
Shift your listening to your immediate environment.
Listen as if you have peripheral hearing (you do!)
Stay here and rest for a bit.
Now shift your listening within.
Sense your own system.
Attend to the sensations in your body.
Notice the area of your body where your attention is drawn first.
Let the sensations register in your consciousness.
Let them be vivid.
You may find you are able to stay with these sensations. Or you may find you quickly begin to follow associations or attribute meaning.
See if you can stay with the sensations…
Consider whether the area of your body your attention first went to is a source of immediate information that you rely on to make your way through the world.
Listen with ears and heart.
Listen to yourself in the world as One Thing.
In Hebrew we would call this Shma-ing, it comes from a prayer that is recited daily during prayer services, the last words before sleep, the last words before death:
listen, you who struggle with Reality/ Reality is One thing.
Now try a few variations: it’s a bit like turning a faceted jewel that catches the light in new and surprising ways with each bit of movement.
Play with substituting any of the following for the word Listen in the practice offered above, and see what you notice.
Hear Infer Give evidence
Obey Prove Be still
Gather Assemble Sing
Minister To Invite Attend
Surrender Teach Make music
Understand Proclaim Show yourself willing
Become an attendant of
Now, Hear the Great Listening that holds us all
Know also that you are listened to in the very design of things – whatever that is like with your partner or your boss or your kid, who ever the ones are in your life who don’t listen to you…
We are always surrounded by a Speaking Silence that takes in all the ways we speak – in our minds, with our hearts, with our actions. In Hebrew, the word is Chashmal…this is a Constant Presence that is always listening. This is a silence that is, as Toni Morrison notes, is little appreciated and yet “as close to music as you can get.”
Listen to birdsong if you are able.
Listen for the vibration of thousands of feet hitting the pavement, dancing along protest routes all over the world.
Listen for the resonances with your own life.
Let this listening be a remedy for your urgency to act,
so you are freer to choose well.
Let this listening be a refuge, a nourishment, a give and take.
Are you longing for your presence, your words, to be deeply heard, attended to, gathered? A healing and awakening relationship whose only goal is for you to become more and more yourself, as you unwind expectations – your own and others of who you are? Let’s talk.