Listening is a powerful quality. At its most basic, it’s a sense that we use to be in the world around us, to keep us safe and informed. Past that, it’s an emotional quality we develop (and continue to develop) throughout life. We expect it of others, so we are heard. We teach it to our children, so they learn the value of being a good listener. We do our best to listen to our loved ones, so they can express themselves and feel heard as well. But there is an even deeper listening, one we are not often taught. A listening to your body, your heart, and your spirit. And it is this quality of listening that can be cultivated through a regular yoga practice.
In our modern life, we are taught that busier is better, fast is best, and “no pain, no gain”. The practice of yoga can help you to uncover a truth deep within that we have learned to bypass in order to “get ahead”. In order to hear our truth, my friends, sometimes you need to slow down, get outside, pursue a passion, say “no” when needed, and choose your well-being over all else. We simply need to stop, then listen. Yoga is a tool that helps you to slow down and move toward stillness so deep listening can take place.
Sometimes you will find yourself in a yoga pose that doesn’t suit your body. It’s truly uncomfortable, or your body is limited and it just isn’t available for you. You can hear it but often press through just the same because we are taught “no pain, no gain”. Yoga teaches you to deeply listen to your body, and it’s the act of listening that draws you to adapt the practice, to modify, use props, and ask questions to fully integrate your yoga.
Listening to the heart comes easily for some and is challenging for most. This listening often pops up during or after a deep savasana or meditation practice. Through the stillness, you have found clarity. It’s a light bulb of realization, an answer to a long held question, a tough decision made. It doesn’t mean it’s easy to do or easy to accept, many times its far from it. You have simply taken the time to quiet your mind and all the expectations and judgments, and deeply listen to fully hear your heart truth.
Listening to your spirit is deeply personal for everyone. It can be a specific practice which brings you peace or unites you with a feeling of universal love. It’s listening for the ways in which you can cultivate and share kindness and compassion out in the world. For some, it’s union with nature, or a connection to spirituality or higher power. Either way, when we are in that stillness and listening you find a connection to what fuels your soul and cultivates strength, solace, and compassion.
The practice of yoga and mindfulness meditation give you the permission we often need to slow down, get quiet, and be present. And it’s through regular practice of making space for those actions that the act of deep listening can occur.
(This is part of a series of blog installments for the A to Z Challenge. I will be covering each letter of the alphabet as it applies to the practice of yoga, meditation, and self-inquiry.)