Listening Deeply to Life

Through the last few posts I’ve been exploring the relationship between the challenging choices in our lives, getting clear on what matters most to us, and making sure our choices line up with what we really value. 

And yet, as much as we try to put first things first, the endless distractions and demands can easily draw us away from what is truly important.  

Conversely, when our attention can come home to where we are, right here in this moment, we’re rewarded with more joy, more peace and more clarity about what’s the best next step.

So how do we go about learning to listen deeply to what life is trying to tell us? 

WritingInJournal_WaltStoneburner

Photo Credit: Walt Stoneburner via Flickr

There are lots of ways to strengthen your awareness. It’s important to find the practices that resonate for you, that match your personality and your lifestyle. Here’s a very small sampling for you to experiment with.

  • My personal favorite – journaling. I’m a big fan of Julia Cameron’s Morning Pages. I still have plenty of days where my morning writing is rambling, whiny, or nonsensical. But through many years of practice, something else has happened. Often my journal is where I give voice what’s going on for me, explore what’s under the surface, and ask the heart-level questions that show me deeper lessons & longings; that whisper truths I’ve silenced; that illuminate a path, otherwise unnoticed. With some practice, journaling can give voice to the most essential part of you.
  • Listen to your body. The felt sense of our animal-being is the most readily available feedback mechanism I know. With us every moment of the day, our body is constantly sending us information. Learning to hear & read those cues drops us into an innate & incomparable wisdom.
  • Sit spot – another true love of mine. I’d describe sit spot as a form of sitting meditation and an amazing gateway to being truly present. Find a place outdoors & nearby (seriously – go for something 20 paces or less from your back door.) Visit that spot for 20 to 30 minutes every day. After your daily visit, you might want to record what you noticed – what you noticed around you, what you noticed inside you. In your notes try using those heart-level questions I mentioned in journaling. Sit spot fosters a meaningful connection to the world around us and serves as a surprising mirror. 
  • Moments of pause throughout the day. You can use a variety of triggers to remind you to pause – an alarm on your phone, every time you go from inside to outside, passing through a doorway. Whatever you choose as the trigger, when it happens, pause, take a few deep breaths & notice what’s happening right now. Without judgement or self-criticism, just notice. A simple and profoundly impactful practice.
  • Trusting relationships – don’t do this alone. Who are the people in your life that really see you as you are, the people you can be fully yourself with? Make sure you’re scheduling time with these people. Cultivate the kind of engagement that’s safe & supportive for expressing what’s in your heart & and open yourself to honest & loving feedback. 
  • Mindfulness mediation groups. Many areas have groups that meet regularly. Some might be based in a spiritual practice, but there are also groups that simply practice meditation together. Explore what’s available & what resonates for you. There’s a shared energy in group mediation that can allow for a deeper & sustained practice.
  • Put it on your calendar. Make your practice sacred. Schedule it. Make it a consistent time every day. Let the people in your life know this is your time. Enlist their support & support them in doing the same.

I know a meditation teacher who says the right meditation technique is the one that works for you. (My kind of mediation teacher!) The same applies here. Explore various practices for strengthening your awareness. Play around with some of the practices above and notice what works for you. 

It’s a transformative act – being deeply present for your life. 

I’d love to hear about the practices that work for you and how they’ve affected your life.

 

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5 Comments

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  1. Margie August 9, 2015 at 8:38 am #

    These are all excellent ideas for not only listening, but for releasing stress and being present in the moment. Thanks for another great post Kelly.

    • Kelly August 10, 2015 at 11:38 am #

      Thanks Margie!

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