Body-Mind-Spirit - Inspiration for Writers, Dreamers, and Seekers of Health & Happiness
I often think that the reason we have two ears and one mouth is because we’re designed to listen more than we speak. Sometimes I talk too much, and now and then I interrupt others. Mostly my interruptions stem from unbridled enthusiasm—I am eager to share, but perhaps a little too eager.
One way to calm your mind is to come into the present moment. You can do this by focusing your attention on your senses. What do you see, hear, taste, smell, or feel? Are you sitting? Can you feel your back against your chair? Is the surface hard or soft? Can you feel your clothes against your skin? Are you wearing a belt? Can you feel it? What sensations are present in your body? Feel them. Now check in with your breath. Is it shallow or deep? Where is it in your body? Can you hear it? What kind of sound does it make? These actions will slow your mind down to the speed of life. A speeding mind can be as dangerous as a speeding car. Slow down. Get present and breathe. Put your hand over your heart. Close your eyes. Check in. Now listen.
Can you experience your entire body as a listening vessel? Your skin is your largest organ and a great sensor.
When my body speaks, it obviously doesn’t use words, but it definitely communicates with me—unless a racing mind drowns out my body’s messages. When I feel sensations in my body and my mind swoops in and starts making up negative stories about what I’m feeling, unpleasant feelings grow worse, discomfort is amplified.
But when I meet my feelings (whether physical or emotional) with a clear and quiet mind, and allow myself to have what I’m feeling—to accept it—shifts occur. Not always, but often. Nothing stays the same. Change is life’s one great certainty.
When you listen deeply you meet yourself, or someone else, in a place of quiet pause and acceptance. The process is patient and kind. It has no agenda and nothing to prove. It’s an act of generosity of spirit.
Writers can learn to listen to their characters with this same openness. Resist the urge to judge what comes out when you write. Stay with the flow of what’s happening with your characters and their stories, even if it’s not what you expect, or want. Stay open. Let yourself be surprised. Learn something.
Two weeks ago I completed my winter writing session. In our last class, André, a writer and retired L.A. police officer, told us, “I feel heard in this group.” He went on to say that it’s hard to find places in his life where he feels as deeply heard as he’d felt in our writing circle. He said that even in his family, people listen, but they seem to be waiting for their turn to speak and they’re eager to interject their opinions. It’s impossible to be engaged in deep listening when you’re thinking about what you want to say after the person you’re listening to stops talking.
Carole, another writer who’s taken a few of my classes, recently wrote this about her experience: “We get to come together once a week and share our lives with one another. These people on some levels know more about me—that inner self—than some of my closest friends in my other communities. This community brings me so much safety and joy as I explore myself.”
If you’d like to immerse yourself in an intimate experience of deep listening—and of being heard deeply—I hope you’ll consider joining one of my spring writing classes. I have one spot left in each circle. Please let me know as soon as possible if you’re interested. I’d be happy to answer any questions you may have.
I’ve come to think of listening as a fine art, one I intend to practice for as long as I am breathing, because being heard is one of the most sacred gifts we can give to others and to ourselves.
Heads up: I’ll be having a VIRTUAL BOOK LAUNCH for my new book, Where Do You Hang Your Hammock? Finding Peace of Mind While You Write, Publish, and Promote Your Book on Thursday, June 3rd at 4:00 p.m. PST. (7:00 p.m. ET). This online event is free and open to the public, but your must register. I’d be honored it you'd celebrate with us! I'll be in conversation with the incomparable Brooke Warner, and we're raffling off books—and a hammock!