01 May May: Listen In
The Sufi Teacher Hazrat Inayat Khan writes in his book The Inner life “In order to get the right disciples and the right people to come to him, a Sufi who lived in Hyderabad made a wonderful arrangement. He got a grumpy woman to sit just near his house; and to anyone who came to see the great teacher, she would say all kinds of things against the teacher: how unkind he was, how cruel, how neglectful, how lazy; there was nothing she would leave unsaid. And as a result out of a hundred, ninety five would turn back; they would dare not come near him. Perhaps only five would come, wanting to form their own opinion about him. And the teacher was very pleased that ninety five went away, for what they had come to find was not there; it was some where else.”
The most wise and considerate teacher lives in you as you. You don’t have to go anywhere to find her, not physically at least! It took me a lot of trial and error to learn that, and years to believe that the answers to my deep burning questions weren’t going to be found through someone else. Consider that 95% of us would rather be doing anything else but truly listening to our inner voice. Sometimes we need to bolster the 5% that is willing to set aside cynicism and disbelief in order to discover something new about ourselves, to expand our point of view and grow.
One of the most valuable skills I was trained in as a healer, is the ability to deeply listen. We all know that old adage about how listening is just waiting for the other person to finish talking so we can have our say. To truly listening we must soften, and let go of the outcome we prefer by simply offering our full attention to something or someone.
I’ve witnessed such healing in myself and others, just by listening or being listened to.
I invite you to read this next part when you have a moment to be quiet, perhaps with a tea to sip and sit comfortably. Maybe that moment will find you early in the morning as the sun breaks open the day, perhaps you are ready after a long day of shuttling here and there and are thirsty for replenishment. It’s here and waiting for you, the sanctuary of your soul. It will never out grow its patience for you or lose its awesome ability to come when called.
Take a breath. Notice how your lungs expand and contract. Feel for the pause at the top of the inhale and the bottom of the exhale. Let your eyes and face soften, and as you breathe begin to listen in.
At first you may hear chatter, like you are in a room full of people shouting conflicting ideas and opinions at one another. Or perhaps you hear absolutely nothing, like the TV is switched off and you are sure you are doing it wrong. Your mind might tell you how scary it is to turn your attention in and offer all the reasons you should go on distracting your self. Keep steady, like the stance of a great Bison, solid on the earth and begin to notice something under the noise, fear, anxiousness, boredom. Something quiet and still. Something as clear as running water, the sound of a bell, the smell of trees. Keep listening and wait, abide.
Witness you, under all the wrappings of the life you have created. There is something eager to hold you in its presence, sustain and restore your weary heart. It’s the place longing lives, and grief, and love. You may feel sad, so sad. You may feel joy or anger or rage. Stay there, listen. You are standing in the place that will remind you who you are and what is essential to carry in your capable hands.
There is more than enough attention to go around, more than enough room for all the stars to be held in the night sky. There is enough time to feel your feelings, (scary feelings!) and let them transform under your steady gaze.
And when you return to your life may you feel steadier, feet planted more firmly on the ground, the air spacious around you. You may even see a way forward that you couldn’t before.
This is the most surprising thing I have found about deep listening, that is actually a short cut through the discord. The intelligence that weaves through us and every living thing is rooting for you to be happy. Yes, happy, I said it.
It’s the beauty within us that makes it possible for us to recognize the beauty around us. The question is not what you look at but what you see.
– Henry David Thorueau
So steady on dear ones, take your time and Listen deeply to yourself and the people around you. Listen and remember that you are precious on this sacred earth.