Posted on March 29, 2011 by Debra Burdick
Let’s talk about listening. Truly listening. Not only to those around you but to your inner wisdom, your intuition, your higher power.
Are you listening?
I learned to listen by experience to go within and to know how to connect with and communicate with my inner being. Some say that prayer is asking for what you want and meditation is listening for the answer. Maybe so, I don’t know. But I do know that as a society we tend to tune out and distract ourselves constantly. We seem to have an aversion to silence.
I went within to listen to my inner wisdom about finding a topic to discuss for this newsletter. I will teach you how I did it in a few minutes.
Are you listening?
If you are parents, did you ever have the experience of your kids coming home from school bursting to tell you about their day? And you were so busy fixing dinner or getting things done around the house that you didn’t really hear anything they had to say? You weren’t listening.
I had the experience at dinner when my great niece had her ear buds in her ears listening to music on her iPod while playing a game on her cell phone. She was totally tuned out to the world right in front of her. This was the last time she ever saw her great grandfather. And she missed the opportunity to connect with him. She wasn’t listening.
Have you ever driven the car someplace and realized when you got there you had no memory of going by certain familiar landmarks. Your mind was so busy worrying about what you had to do next, or thinking about what happened yesterday that you missed the present moment.
Are you listening? Who are you listening to? Are you listening to the TV, the radio, your iPod, your phone, your computer? Are you listening to family, friends, trusted mentors, experts, maybe Dr. Oz? Are you ever listening to your inner wisdom, your intuition, your higher power? Do you know how?
Think about it. In our daily lives we have a steady stream of information coming to us full speed ahead. This makes it nearly impossible to really listen unless we make a deliberate effort to do so.
The practice of Mindfulness and Present Moment Awareness helps us to do just that. To listen. To be fully present in this moment. To hear.
Studies show that Mindfulness can be helpful to our mental health and our physical health. Mindfulness can decrease depression and anxiety, improve concentration, lower stress hormones and reduce the fight or flight response. It can also reduce the risk of stress related illness, improve sleep, and improve our overall health and extend our life span.
Mindfulness can also be helpful and maybe necessary to improve our connection with our inner wisdom and higher power. This area is not emphasized in mental health and medicine but more and more often, these fields mention the benefit of connecting to our spiritual center.
Mindfulness can include being mindful of our breath, thoughts, emotions, surroundings, our physical body, a particular task or activity, inner wisdom, and communication with our higher power. Wayne Dyer says that silence is your one way to experience the oneness and the indivisibility of God and that is why you want to meditate. He says this is how you know God rather than having to settle for knowing about God. Regardless of your religious beliefs, when you truly learn how to go within and connect you will find your answers in the silence. Going into the quiet and listening will inspire you.
While working at a community hospital in the intensive outpatient program in the psychiatry department I observed the power of Mindfulness. Patients attend the program for three-five mornings per week for anywhere from a few weeks to many months depending on the severity of their mental illness. It was an honor to watch the healing of many patients as they journeyed through the program. Among other things the program teaches them how to be mindful. At first many of them struggle to sit still. They fidget. Their mind wanders. Some completely reject the process at first. But as time goes on they get better at it and start using it during their daily life. And their depression starts to decrease. They feel less anxious. They can shift out of negative or worry thoughts to more positive thoughts. They reconnect with themselves and their inner knowing.
Let’s talk about how to do this. It takes practice and patience. But everyone can do it, even little children, even you.
The process of basic mindfulness can be summarized as: sitting still, focusing on your breathing, noticing what thoughts pop up, accepting the thoughts and then letting them go without judging them. That’s it.
Awareness of breath is the foundation of most meditation and mindfulness practices. We all breathe. We breathe without thinking about breathing. But if we want to we can hold our breath, breath fast, slow down our breathing rate, breath deep, breath shallow. Our breath gives us a focus to bring our awareness back to over and over. This quiets the mind and allows the silence.
After a few minutes of focusing on the breath and dismissing thoughts without judging you might try a more active process of paying attention to what enters your mind in a passive way. But again, just let it go and return your focus to your breath. You might ask your inner being or your higher power for guidance. Ask your question. Then sit in mindfulness of breath and wait patiently for a response.
You might notice colors, smells, a feeling, a knowing, pictures, sounds. Relax and allow. Stay focused on your breath. Trust the process. You will feel refreshed and rejuvenated as you have given your brain a rest from the barrage of up to 60,000 thoughts per day that we all think. And you will experience a new found clarity and health.
Are you listening?
I would love to hear your personal experiences with this topic.