As I sat in meditation this morning, one word kept popping up and then slowly transitioned into a mantra. Listen, listen, listen, listen....
I suck at listening, and actually, I think most of us do. We aren't trained to listen. We are trained to be thinking one step ahead. We are told that being quick witted and charismatic is important, so that's what we value. We are so entrenched in the ease of multi-tasking that we've let it bleed into our interactions and our every day life. Listening requires that we close some of those tabs or the apps that are open in our brains and focus on the moment sitting right in front of us.
As yoga teaches us, our bodies are a microcosm of the macrocosm of the universe. Listening to our bodies means training ourselves out of the denial of our body's wisdom and starting to move more intuitively. To move intuitively we have to drop in and truly be present - past and future have to disappear and we have to get really curious about all the things that are happening in. that. moment.
But why does that matter? Honestly, it comes down to efficiency and fulfillment. Learning to listen effectively is the most efficient and direct way to a life of lasting happiness. To listen and to be present means to connect and to fully absorb what ever it is you're listening to. If its a co-worker, friend, or partner it means understanding what they are communicating to you, avoiding miscommunications and arguments that stem from that. If it's listening to your body it's knowing that when you're hamstrings are talking loudly they are probably trying to communicate something to you, be it that they need you to back off or perhaps you're alignment is out of whack. If we can stay present and listen to those messages we avoid misunderstandings, we avoid missteps, we avoid injury, and long story short, we save a lot of time and energy.
If we zoom out even more, we discover that the skill of listening directly relates to our ability to be happy. We are all very different human beings, with very different stories and lives and backgrounds, but I can guess that the one thing that you and I have in common is that we are both seeking our own happiness and fulfillment. If our goal in life is to be happy and we aren't able to listen to ourselves (let alone anyone else), the chance of finding fulfillment and happiness is almost nonexistent. Many of us rattle through life, moving from one goal to the next, ticking box after box after box - job, check! dog/cat/pet, check!, car, check! marriage, check! baby, check! divorce, check!. We are told by big marketing agencies what we need to do next (**cue diamond engagement ring commercials at Christmas - what do diamonds have to do with marriage anyway?!**) or what a measure of happiness is (**that purse will make people like me because they will see i have money** or even worse **do I need to buy myself a bigger butt or boobs or lips?!**) and we completely loose sight of who our true selves are.
If we learn to listen effectively, to ourselves and to our communities, we can move from a place of authenticity. We can truly embrace this gift we've been given of this short life on Earth. We can feel good in our own skin because we are doing what we are MEANT to be doing... not what whatever model or marketing campaign has told us should make us happy. We can take the cues from the universe that are meant just for us (you know... when you get that spooky feeling that there's divine intervention because one door is closing and another better door is opening or the stars are aligning in a creepy way - pay attention to those moments!) and move in a direction that creates happiness and fulfillment of our own unique purpose.
Here's the even better part... when we are in that space of fulfillment and happiness there is a profound ripple effect that translates to our partners, our children, our co-workers. A rising tide that lifts all boats, and a life lived from a place of fulfillment and joy creates more positive change than a life lead from a place of fear and a sense of grasping.
So this week, I invite you to listen... whether it's listening to your body and re-empowering yourself if that way during your yoga practice or a short 3-5 minute daily meditation, or even more fun is to start listening to the universe. If something pings on your radar... 11:11 again! a meaningful sign from above and an auspicious moment. What could those signs mean? What is the universe trying to tell you? How can you listen to yourself to step toward living an authentic life?