THE ART OF LISTENING
“Wanna know what I heard? Did you hear that? Do you hear what I hear?”
When we think of “listening”, we most often think of hearing.
The truth is, hearing can be much different than listening.
I told my cousin Tootsie what the title of my next blog was going to be. “The Art of Listening”. Spirit gave me this title a couple of weeks ago. They had been feeding me bits of info along the way. The first thing Tootsie said was, “Ahhhh, listening. Yes, it’s a dying art. Like knitting.”
I told her immediately I was going to use that, for I knew exactly what spirit had in mind when they had me call Tootsie. Tootsie is gifted, and always inspires me. She dubbed me “Warrior Princess”. But that’s only because she is the “Warrior Queen.” Okay, we’ll get back to Tootsie’s comments in a bit.
I think sometimes the word “listening” scares us. Because “hearing” is easier. You hear with your ears, right? But when we hear the word “listen”, it seems to take on a much deeper meaning. I think at times we fear “listening” because it requires us to dig into a deeper part of us. Maybe discover things we’re not ready to discover? Maybe some truths hidden in there we don’t want to face? Maybe prayer?
We hear with our ears, we listen with our souls.
Listening is hearing those whispers in our soul.
Yeah, it’s a little scary. Because listening requires a bit more courage. It requires intense concentration.
Or does it?
Meditation. Gulp. Another scary word.
Who hasn’t tried to meditate and says, “Oh, I can’t meditate, I’ve tried.”
I remember, not so long ago when I tried to ‘learn to meditate”. I had heard for years, “The key is in meditation.”
I tried and tried, numerous times. I sat in the lotus position. Tried to clear my mind. “Clear mind, clear!!!!”
I used to wonder, what does “clearing the mind” actually mean? Having a few drinks will clear the mind! I soon found out, having a few drinks, although relaxing, actually doesn’t clear anything. Don’t get me wrong, I do enjoy my cocktails. I’ve just learned that wasn’t the way to clear my mind, and allow myself to listen.
I tried and tried to meditate. I just couldn’t clear my mind. It seemed I would always plan my daily to-do/ grocery lists in meditation. I’d give up, and say, “I’m just one of those people that can’t meditate.”
Although, I am one of those people that spends quality time alone. I’ve always enjoyed time by myself. I have wonderful friends in Chicago and here in Orlando, but spending time alone always felt like a treat. Yay, a date with me.
I’ve always enjoyed reading, writing, going to the movies by myself, going for long walks, exploring, finding a park surrounded by water, swimming, listening to live music, sketching, decorating, creating, cooking, dedicating a day off to Lifetime TV, a good Law & Order marathon or an old movie. Now that I live in Florida, I love spending a day at a theme park or at the beach. I love puttering around my home. Puttering. Love it.
For a person who claimed she couldn’t meditate, guess what I’ve been doing my entire life?
Meditating. And ultimately, praying.
Meditating doesn’t have to mean sitting in the lotus position, chanting “Ommmmm”. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve learned how to meditate, and that “Ommmmm business” is pretty amazing!
I’ve experienced miraculous, amazing things in the lotus position. One day I may write about that. Just not right now.
Meditation can be found and developed in every area of our lives.
Again, I’ve receive messages from spirit in meditation. Yes, sometimes in the lotus position, chanting “Ommmmm”. But mostly, to be honest, the messages come while I’m in the super-conscious state.
So, what is the super conscious state?
The best example I can think of, is when you’re driving, you pull into your parking space or driveway, and you don’t know how you got home. You don’t even remember driving, turning, or even braking. You just arrive home, and you wonder, “Wow….what just happened? How did I get home? And safe!!??” Super-conscious state is auto-pilot.
We do so many things in the super-conscious meditative state. Things we’re not aware of.
Things like again, driving. Cleaning. Sweeping the floor. Vacuuming the carpets. Exercising. You know how people say, “I’m going for a walk, or a run, to clear my head.”
Fishing. That’s meditating.
Riding your bike. Meditating.
Taking a bath or shower. Meditating.
Playing Sports. Yep. Meditating.
Watching TV. Yep. That can be meditative.
Remember the movie, “A Few Good Men”? Tom Cruise played Lt. Daniel Kaffee, a lawyer trying a case against Jack Nicolson’s, Lt. Nathan Jessup. While preparing for trial, he was always swinging his baseball bat. He would yell, “Where’s my bat? I need my bat! I think better with my bat!”
(I know, I’m always quoting movies. I love the movies. They inspire me! Very meditative!!)
I love washing dishes. I’ve never been a big fan of the dishwasher. My kids will attest to that. I love to fill the sink up with hot, soapy water, music playing, and meditate. I can’t tell you how many messages I’ve received from spirit, and many crossed over loved ones while doing dishes. I always have to keep a paper and pen nearby to hurry up, dry my hands and write down what they tell me.
I also receive so many messages in my car, while driving here or there. Without freaking anyone out, you’re really never alone in your car. (We’ll save that for another time).
Spirit tells me when they need to chat with me, teach me. They will simply tell me to turn off the radio. So I do. It’s gotten to the point where I’ve had to bring a small recorder in the car with me, as it got too dangerous to try to pull over and write everything they tell me while I’m on the road!
In my last blog I talked about inspiration. Where does inspiration come from? In my experience, it comes from a combination of meditation and creation.
Where does a poet/lyricist find those inspirational words, to meld together with a beautiful melody?
Where do these beautiful melodies come from? Seriously? Where?
How can a dancer move their body that way? How do they create breath-taking choreography?
How does an artist create so much beauty? “Why can’t I sketch that way, paint like that, or sing like so and so??”
How did that photographer capture that perfect moment? How did they create that stunning visual for us?
How does that chef create an amazing meal? How did he/she know to pair those ingredients together?
Where does a writer find the words? The words that inspire us, the words that help us imagine?
We shake our heads and wonder, “How, how, how? Where does this kind of talent and inspiration come from?” From “thin air?” Well, yeah, kinda. Well, ummmm, exactly.”
Again, it is my belief that creation comes from inspiration. Inspiration comes from listening.
The only thing holding us back is fear. (No, this is still not the blog on fear, not yet!)
We think we can’t do these amazing things, so we don’t.
We think we can’t create, so we don’t.
Or maybe it’s not that we think we can’t, it’s simply we forgot we could.
I desperately want to plant a garden. I’m full blooded Italian. I grew up with vegetable gardens my entire life. Why do I think I can’t? Both my grandpas used to garden. They’d putter in their tomato plants.
Back to Tootsie’s comments about knitting being a lost art.
How many of our moms, grandmothers used to sew, knit, or crochet? Remember needlepoint? All were meditating and creating!!! Sometimes I would say to my grandma, “Grandma, don’t you want the TV on while you crochet?” She would smile and say, “No honey, I’m okay like this.” I would leave the room, look back at her and see her lips moving in meditation, in prayer.
What a beautiful sight. I could cry just thinking about it today.
When we were kids we were always creating. Mostly because we were forced to. We were pushed by art teachers to make all kinds of creations we wouldn’t dare try today. We were pushed by music teachers, and today most of us feel we can’t sing or play an instrument. We were pushed by gym teachers, and today can’t do a cartwheel, or won’t even attempt it! (It’s actually not so easy, I’ve tried it! I’m working on it!!)
Our parents pushed us out of the house.
Made us go outside and play. So we did. We created, all day, every day. We made up games, rode our bikes, and sang every song on the radio with our best friends, sometimes while riding our bikes! My best friend MaryAnn and I were convinced we could have been lyricists. We were always writing new lyrics to popular melodies. I think she still has them today!
We’d lay on the grass, look up at the clouds and would imagine, create and meditate until the street lights came on and we had to go home.
We had no fear.
Social media is such a big part of our lives today. We grab our smart stupid phones and God knows what we are searching for as we search away our days on the internet or on Facebook.
I guess that’s the point. God does know.
The Universe knows.
It’s time to start listening.
Dust off your bike, put your Yoga pants on, grab your fishing pole, take a dance class, a voice lesson, pick up an instrument, a book, a journal or a sketch pad.
Go to the beach, or lake, or river.
Spend the day on a boat.
Swim. Lay in the grass, look at the clouds.
Write a poem.
Plant a garden.
Cook a meal you’ve never tried before.
Go to the craft store.
Dust off your camera.
Take a photo with that camera, not just with your phone.
Get off Facebook for one day, and connect with yourself.
Take up knitting, crocheting, needlepoint or sewing.
Turn the radio off in your car.
Wash a stack of dishes.
Or just one.
Don’t be afraid to be alone.
You’ll be amazed at who’s waiting for you on the other end.