5-Minute Meditation: Listen
There is one thing we all need to get better at: listening. Unless you are one of those people who just never talks and always listens. But are you really listening? Or are you sitting there thinking no one ever listens to you.
Then there are the types that are neither listening nor talking. Or they are talking, but they are talking silently to themselves. Pretending to listen or straight up not listening. No response. No answer. No questions. No nods.
I did this last night. I do this all the time. I'm having a full-on conversation in my head, but nothing is happening otherwise with the person talking to me. Especially not with the person right in front of me. Trying to get my attention.
At my first teacher training, we did an exercise wherein we fully listened to one person talk to us, and then next time, we acted totally distracted. Then the partner told us how it felt, to be completely ignored while trying to say something.
It was slightly heart-bending, what some people had to say. This can't go on.
A meditation to polish listening skills:
I like to do this in karani viparita - legs up the wall. To get into karani viparita: With your yoga mat up against the wall (top of the mat on the wall), get into a fetal position on your mat with bottom of your butt on the wall, then turning onto your back, walking legs up the wall. Some people like to put a block or folded blanket up against the wall under the tail bone. I like it on the floor. Arms out at an angle, palms open. This position is implies reception and openness.
This takes 5 minutes:
- First minute: Listen to any sounds in the room. AC noise, fridge hum, creaks, waves (lucky you), people talking. lawn mower, whatever. There is no analysis of what you hear. Let go of any thoughts about the sounds around you. Just hear and then try to listen to the silence between the sounds. If this doesn't make sense for you, just keep practicing listening to sounds without labels and judgment.
- Second minute: Listen to your breath. No talking. Meaning no judgment of the breath inside your head. Just listen to it. Listening can also be a feeling, feel the breath in a certain part of the body (chest, nostrils, diaphragm, stomach, anywhere). Notice any interrupting your mind does in the form of talking. Let your thoughts go with the out breath until the 2nd minute...
- Third minute: Listen to your thoughts. Try to catch every image, every loud voice, even every little whisper way in the back of your mind. Don't hold on to them. Let them come and go. Welcome them and stay curious. Don't judge yourself or your thoughts. Stay completely alert but try not to add another layer of thinking to your thinking.
- Fourth minute: Come into the body now. Notice its breathing. Notice the energy inside if you can. Try to feel each part of your body from the inside as best you can, noticing first your feet on the wall, and then moving down and through the body, listening through feeling the energy of each part as much as you possibly can.
- Fifth minute: An overall listening. Listening to the outside and inside of the body. Slowly opening up your listening to things you can't see or understand, you tap into an openness in which you listen closely for the universe to speak. Your listening is extremely expanded and incorporates everything. All life. Listen for any insights or hunches here.
This works to get the creative juices working if you need some inspiration.
But mostly, let this be an exercise in honing your attention skills. We need to listen to each other. It is one of the great forms of giving, of love.