More than ever, we are pulled into the area outside of our skin with high levels of stimulation and distraction. Bombarded with seductive and interesting energy, the more subtle, internal voices are drowned out.
The complex biological being upon which our heads sit has a voice. Its messages are drowned out by the “louder” stimuli that bombard our eyes, ears, taste buds and noses.
Our body connection, our sense of material being, connects us to every other form. The fact that molecules came together to form you and me underscores the fact that the very same molecules form everything else. To ignore our bodies, our inner experience, or to minimize its importance, is to miss the sense of unity of all forms.
So how do we actively listen? The brain can only process one message at a time. We can move rapidly among messages, but each impulse is discrete. This is why slowing down, breathing and some of the currently touted relaxation methods make sense. When we slow down, we’re making space to listen to ourselves one internal stimulus at a time. Quieting the mind and its mischief is a big part of hearing the body and making friends with yourself.
What does it feel like to occupy your body? What is it asking for? What is it trying to communicate? When we’re able to have this empathic connection with ourselves, it opens the door for profoundly different relationships with others.
I’m teaching a course (Human Relations) in which a central theme is what motivates us. Kids are taught (if they’re lucky) by parents who hold values and reward or punish their kids accordingly. If we mature, we learn to internalize our values, and we don’t need external responses to validate them.
Are we performing for an audience over a lifetime? With empathy, we are concerned about our effects on others, but being a people pleaser places our fate in the hands of others. If you haven’t noticed, most people are operating on their own agendas, so pleasing people without consciousness can get us lost.
All the current material about mindfulness and consciousness… What it means is living intentionally, with clear values and purpose. This shows itself in what we do when no one is watching, when we’re getting no credit or blame for our actions.
A thoughtful examination of what drives our choices, and a mindful reflection on the impact of those choices, keeps us on a meaningful path.
I remember my dear uncle saying, “Now that I’m old I can look back on life while I’m living it.”I didn’t get that at the time, but now I do.
What I find different about getting older is that I can be the observer and the actor at the same time.When we’re young, we’re “doing,” and if we are more mature than the majority, reflecting way after the doing is over.“Insight,” is just that…looking inward and reflecting.If we can do that while we’re living, we’re far better off than most folks.
If we aren’t among the more mature and mindful, we blunder along only to discover our patterns and miscues in what isn’t working in our lives.If we don’t blame others, we may end up in the office of a therapist.Better late than never!
On the Discovery Channel there was discussion about research moving toward life without death.On the surface, that sounds like the vanquishing of the ultimate enemy! But what impact will immortality have on the choices we make in our then open-ended lives?
Will we care as much about our impact on others?If we have endless “do-overs” will we choose to be mindful? There was a hypothetical projection that one day we will be able to upload our consciousness into an app and won’t need a body!
There is something about the finiteness of form and time that motivates us.That which is finite is more precious and worthy of introspection and meaning.Since neither I nor anyone reading this is at this point immortal in the physical sense, maybe we can cherish the life we are living and “look back at its impact while we’re living it.”
A recent NY Times article discusses the connection between brain and body and several studies have demonstrated that having a positive view of aging can have a beneficial influence on health outcomes and longevity.
Judith T. Moskowitz, a professor of medical social sciences at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago, developed a set of eight skills to help foster positive emotions.
The eight skills are:
Recognize a positive event each day.
Savor that event and log it in a journal or tell someone about it.
Start a daily gratitude journal.
List a personal strength and note how you used it.
Set an attainable goal and note your progress.
Report a relatively minor stress and list ways to reappraise the event positively.
Recognize and practice small acts of kindness daily.
Practice mindfulness, focusing on the here and now rather than the past or future.
There is nothing more wonderful than someone really listening to you. Really listening means having your heart 100% present. It’s an empathic connection to the person who is speaking. It’s a lot different than simply hearing words.
There are a trillion distractions that prevent us from actively listening. Here are some common ones:
Thinking of the next thing you’re going to say while someone is talking.
Using a person’s words to do a word-association exercise in your head about yourself.
Thinking of the next thing you’re going to do, or should be doing instead of listening.
Losing figure-ground by not staying focused and simply being distracted by random stimuli in the environment and within yourself.
In our culture, eye contact is a critical piece of listening. Facial acknowledgement and body posture go along with eye contact. The result of not realizing the effects of mindful presence on communication is that many of us feel discounted and unimportant. We feel that no one is listening, so we stop singing our heart songs.
The pace of life, communication devices that both connect and separate us, virtual worksites with phone conferencing, all detract from the most critical aspect of human communication; bringing one’s full being into the interpersonal space.
Try this exercise:
Make eye contact and smile at people whether you know them or not. If this is done with an open heart, people won’t think you’re a weirdo!
Connect with people through their dogs and their babies. People are far less inhibited when talking about beings that give unconditional love.
Practice smiling and looking at yourself in the mirror. Say kind things to yourself about your appearance and your intentions.
Realize that all of us simply want to be accepted. Those who appear otherwise have erected a self-protective wall that makes them seem unapproachable. How sad that the very protection we seek also shuts out the love that we long for.
We will all be experiencing heightened connection over the holiday season. Talk less and listen more. Listen mindfully and be fully present. Put down the alcohol and open your heart. The winter holidays that celebrate light and enlightenment can also be the birth of mindful listening.
The “eternal” is at work here in the pastures of Florida. A relentless rhythm of Life living itself in every square inch of land, air and tree. The lowing cattle live an eternal existence that has taken place here for centuries. The names on the few street signs reflect the history of the area…SW Florida a bit inland, citrus and cattle country.
The paradox is that there is change within the sameness. The landscape evolves but the rules are the same. Everything speaks of Life’s expression, changing within eternal rhythms.. My experience is from the inside, a stillness and appreciation of light and its profound effect on the voices of the many plant forms.
Each plant takes light and expresses it in its particular way. It’s what fascinates me about Essential Oils… Each oil is the “voice” of a species expressed uniquely and eloquently. Each voice offers a special experience if we can keep a gentle hand on the tuner and listen from the core of our being.
We humans, like the plants, have unique voices to express… No one can tell us what those voices will materialize, just that it must sing with the Light of Truth like the plants sing with the Sun’s grace.
Touching that place deep within creates destiny. Simple sensory experiences aren’t enough. We are intended to create, uniquely and individually, but coming from the Great One as Love.
In the stillness of the pastures, circling upward with the hawks, grounded eternally in the cattle and exploding in the abundance of plant life, is the curriculum of creativity, a metaphor of joyful expression.
May we make this kind of living our singular mission. May we feel our presence, fully and mindfully, in this moment unfolding eternally.
Have you noticed that you “feel before you think?” The body is wise and intuitive…the mind can be easily fooled.
As I move into the practice of Reiki (light touch energy healing) I realize that it is a validation of what I’ve known all along. As they say in the East, the mind is a wonderful servant but a terrible master. My particular mind is capable of all sorts of mischief along with occasional wisdom. Notice the characteristic thought loops that feel familiar to you. They are seldom encouraging and usually sort of depressing. On the other hand, the body has a certain intuitive honesty. Like a loyal friend, it takes on the overflow from the mind and becomes symptomatic to remind us that we aren’t listening.
The truth is that the mind is a relatively new evolutionary twist. The body, on the other hand, is far more enduring and attuned to the Earth’s energetic wisdom if we don’t get in its way. The alternative healing arts such as Reiki and all varieties of energy work, merely remove obstacles to the flow of energy and allow the body to function as it knows how to do. It doesn’t function when we feed it poorly, subject it to negative thinking, don’t exercise, or fail to align with the flow of energy that embraces the entire Earth and all of us in it.
We have an obesity epidemic in this country. No surprise considering many of us are eating food that resembles nothing natural. If it’s in a box or a can it probably hasn’t seen the Sun (our material source of energy) for many months. The profit motive has sentenced us to GMOs (artificially engineered foods) that confuse and assault the body. The incentives of pharmaceutical companies and corporate farms are financial, so unless we are clear-minded we can inadvertently dose ourselves with an array of toxins masquerading as food. I used to wonder why, in poverty stricken areas of our country, that obesity was particularly apparent. Cheap food is fattening, toxic food. There is the answer.
The new focus of “mindfulness” asks us to choose consciously, with an alert mind that is attuned to natural rhythms. When we go to Nature, that portion of us that dozes in civilization is awakened. In holistic practices offered by conscious practitioners, we are blessed with the channeled energy of Infinite Potential and Universal Wisdom. This is the source of wellness and abundance.
So the alternative is to be mindful, to treat the Earth and the body as sacred vessels of life-giving energy. The fact that molecules have assembled to form a conscious being that can behold itself isn’t ordinary…it’s a miracle. If we stay with that thought…”My life isn’t ordinary, it’s a miracle,” it will be easier to make conscious choices. As we each awaken, the world will change. That’s how we “bring Heaven to Earth.”