Listen to Yourself
Everyone knows what it feels like to not be heard. We all know what it feels like to try and explain ourselves to someone who simply doesn’t get it. It seems to be one of the most common relationship problems - communication breakdown.
Much of yoga is about listening. Learning to listen, first to your self, then listen all around you, and really listen to others. Honestly, I used to assume I was listening, but over time, as my practice developed, my ability to listen deeply to what’s going on inside and outside also improved. Now looking back, it’s surprising how much I assumed, and it’s surprising how little I actually heard, and how much of my suffering was created in my own mind (hint: all of it!).
If you think you don’t have time to meditate, I get it. I understand that resistance. Maybe you’re too busy having fun to stop and be still. Maybe you are on a fast track and you feel like there’s barely enough time to get half your stuff done before there’s more piled onto your “list”. But what if I told you that your concept of time is just an illusion?
If you have a hard time sitting to meditate, then forget about it. Do Savasana instead. Savasana is conscious, deep relaxation. It’s what most yoga classes end with. But you don’t have to practice postures to try it. You can even do it when you lie in bed at night, thinking, thinking, thinking over your day, or worrying about tomorrow. You’re there anyway, you might as well use the time wisely.
If it’s possible for you to get comfortable lying on your back, that is the preferred position. If you need a prop beneath your neck or knees, go for it. If you need to take a different position, that’s fine. Don’t worry about it because really, you can do this anywhere. Even in a lounge chair or sitting at your desk!
First, bring your awareness to your breath and take a few deep breaths. Let them go with a sigh. Sometimes that helps to release some surface tensions and soften into the support. Then begin to scan your body with your awareness. Don’t rush. Take your time. Spend some time on your face. Notice the sensations there and consciously relax any tensions inside and outside. Continue to move deeper into your skull, your brain, the back of your head and so on. Then move into your neck, shoulders, arms, back and through your entire body, piece by piece, relaxing any tensions and noticing what you feel.
When you’ve finished, go back over any difficult spots, breathing into tightness, inviting an opening, a softening. Then let your awareness open outward to take in the sounds in and around the room, any sensations, your breath. Remain still and receptive in the moment. Let your awareness receive life as it unfolds miraculously before you and all around you.
In these still quiet moments you are able to listen deeply to yourself. You may hear from your body in the form of insights on how to take better care of yourself. You may discover an emotional message, desire or need you were previously unable to decipher. All kinds of clarity can happen in stillness!
Muddy water, let stand, becomes clear. - Lao Tsu
If you feel like you're not being heard, try listening to yourself. When you practice presence and awareness consistently, whether in meditation or deep relaxation, you will discover you do not need to struggle nearly as much to find happiness and contentment. You already have all the guidance and insight you need to take your next step. You only need to get quiet enough to hear it. When you’ve listened to yourself, you will gain insight into your own motivations and reactions. Your need to be heard will be filled in a way no one else ever could, and you will be infinitely more available, freer to listen to and communicate with others more effectively.
A book that helped me with a listening practice is The Zen of Listening, by Rebecca Z Shafir. Have you seen it? What are your experiences with listening/being heard & understood?