Strengthening Your Deep Listening
In December, I wrote about Listening. Check that blog post out here if you missed it – it’s a great place to (re)-start if your Listening muscle is out of practice.
At first when the Listen Mood Lady came to me now, I thought it was too soon to revisit this topic – especially since not all the other Mood Ladies have had a turn yet (fairness is a core value in Mood Lady Land). But the Ladies reminded me that Listening is one of the founding principles of this idea of Wholeness – exploring and honoring all the parts of ourselves so we can be more of who we are, thereby having more of what we want. Without the practice of truly Listening, many of the other concepts will remain out of reach.
Once we’ve gotten some tools under our belts with Listening (you got some help with this in the first blog post), then it’s time to keep deepening this practice. There are so many different ways to do this – and most important is not the ‘how’ we do it, but THAT we do it and with consistency. Here are two ways to continually deepen your Listening abilities:
1. Be a stealthy thought detective: I am fascinated by thoughts and how powerful they are.You can experience their power pretty much any day you truly tune in. For example, how about the day everything is going along swimmingly? You might be even having an excellent day. And then someone can say something or perhaps you hear something in the news and your whole mood changes. It’s as if a switch was either turned on or off and everything feels different. Since nothing has actually changed since the time before and after the ‘switch’ adjustment, there was some thought in there that you allowed to have all that power. All that changed was some message you sent yourself that you weren’t sending yourself before. Fascinating & powerful!
As you develop your listening, you can become more and more aware of your thoughts. In the beginning, you don’t have to do this in order to change them or really to take any action – simply to notice what you’re thinking about. I’ve done this for quite a while and in the beginning, I simply noticed what my mind spent time on. To be honest, I was a little amazed how many pointless things it got stuck on, just to have something to do. And then, of course, there were the times I caught it doing things that were in opposition to what I really wanted – like getting stuck in fears or worries. I didn’t make myself wrong when I made those discoveries. I simply enjoyed being that private eye with the camera exposing someone who needed to be exposed so they would stop doing something to harm others or themselves. “Gotcha!” I would say excitedly, as I caught that super active mind up to its old habits.
Using our ‘negative’ thoughts to help us become aware and then eventually switch over to more ‘positive’ thoughts is one of my favorite tricks. It’s an excellent way to retrain our brains (Shirzad Chamine’s book Positive Intelligence is a great resource here if you’re interested in more).
2. Using your senses: Thoughts are fascinating AND it’s great to take a break from them sometimes. We can do this and still keep up the listening by focusing on our senses. A favorite exercise of mine is to pick a sense – hearing, seeing, touch are the best for this exercise. Once you have your choice, start ‘listening’. I like to do this while I’m walking when I want to give my mind a break. I’ll choose ‘touch’ for example. As I walk, I’ll become aware of that sense of touch – the clothes on my skin, the air on my skin, the feel of my hair on my face, how the ground feels beneath me, any other sensory stimuli I receive. I ‘listen’ from this place and notice all that I hear. As I do this, new levels appear. Sometimes new thoughts and ideas come to me here and sometimes, I simply relish in this deep sense of listening.
Truly Listening takes practice and brings with it a wealth of benefits. For example, you become used to giving yourself the space you need before taking action, the action you take is based on what you really want so is more easeful and effortless; decisions are easier because you have more clarity. Play with these Listening exercises this week and see what you discover. Feel free to share any comments, thoughts or questions in the Reply box below.