Age-related reference here: I grew up watching WWF – that’s right, World Wrestling Federation.
Chalk it up to having an older brother, but I remember a lot of hours watching Hulk Hogan in action (and subsequently being the victim of my brother pretending HE was Hulk Hogan, but that’s a different blog.) One of Hulk Hogan’s iconic moves was to put his hand to his ear and wave it hand around as if he was trying to get more sound. It would whip the crowd into a frenzy and ultimately result with him flexing his muscles like crazy and usually shredding the remainder of his already-stretched-too-thin muscle shirt.
I haven’t had any shirt-shredding moments lately (though I’m kind of intrigued by the thought), but the image of Hulk Hogan with his hand up to his ear as he’s listening to the crowd is one that always sticks with me. I actually used it in a group training recently about deep listening, and while it was intended for some levity, it really made me think more deeply about how I’ve been listening lately.
By all rights, this past month looked like it was going to be a pretty easy month. Then I actually got into the flow of it, and it proved to be significantly more challenging than I expected. Stress levels went through the roof, my body reacted with tight muscles and insomnia, and let’s just say I fell *way* short of my “be patient” goals. It honestly caught me a little off guard! For a few days I tried to just push forward, do my thing (do ALL the things, really), and hope it would pass. No shocker here, it didn’t.
That’s when I turned up the dial on my listening. I obviously wasn’t getting the message, so I channeled my inner Hulk Hogan and put my hand to my proverbial ear so I could figure out what the heck was going on. I had to start with creating space to actually listen. With a packed schedule, a bazillion goals, and a 3-year-old, that “space” can seem elusive. I have a fairly good habit of taking time to pause coupled with a fairly bad habit of filling the time with all of my anxious thoughts and considerations and concerns. I had to get really intentional about creating space to just listen. I did this in two ways. One was painting or sketching with colored pencils but with an open intention to listen rather than the primary focus being on what I was creating. This meant not going in with an agenda, but just focusing on the act of painting or sketching as opposed to focusing on whatever I was trying to make.
The other was to challenge myself to get as still as I could possibly get physically. Again, to borrow a phrase from my Dad, this is one of those things that “says easy, does hard”. Sure I could sit and meditate, but how still was I, really? I fiddle, I stretch, I adjust, I scratch… I made sure I was comfortable, and then I really challenged myself to stay still. For me this was an intentional disruption to my usual practices- if I wanted the experience to feel different, I need to approach it differently. I also tried to do this outdoors as much as possible. I find sometimes when I try to meditate or get reflective inside my house, I’m too easily distracted. I also experimented with sitting with my hands in an open position. This was a physical reminder to me that my job was not to be asking for anything or creating anything, but simply to be receiving messages if there were any that popped up.
In essence, I didn’t have to be IN CHARGE of my meditation. I just needed to show up, shut up, and listen.
I also made a courageous decision because I’m well aware of my tendency to distract myself or interrupt the listening flow with an endless task list or litany of concerns: I asked for help and got myself some coaching. It’s all fine and dandy if you can do your own inner listening, but for me, sometimes it helps a ton to have someone else walk you through that inner review. I always find that having a coach helps me access levels of inner wisdom I might never otherwise get to.
So – if you’re feeling out of sorts, wondering why you’re more tense than usual, feeling anxious, or just plain interested in some new insight, try channeling YOUR inner Hulk Hogan and doing some deeper listening to what’s going on.