What’s the last thing you listened to?
I don’t mean the last thing you heard, the last thing you had playing in the background while you were busy doing a million other things, or the last thing someone said to you. I mean the last thing you really listened to.
Right now as I’m writing this, it’s a RARE rainy July day in Phoenix. Although I’m probably wasting some of my air conditioning, I’m ignoring my inner dictator yelling “you’re wasting money! What, were you born in a barn?!?” and I’ve got my window open to it. I can hear the drops falling on the leaves of the palm tree outside my window, and I can hear the water rolling off the roof and dripping onto the rocks below. Occasionally a rumble of thunder rolls in the background, and when cars drive by, I can hear the splash of the water as they drive through the puddle in the middle of the street.
I paused for a few minutes earlier, and I listened to something else. I heard the hum of the air conditioner (yep, wasting all that money in the background), but I also started to listen to my breathing. I closed my eyes to focus more, and I began to listen to all of the chatter barreling its way through my brain. Oddly, as I turned my attention to it, it didn’t ramp up this time. It actually decelerated and quieted down. And then… I heard something else. My inner voice asked me to listen. More. Deeper. More consistently. Longer periods of time.
See, I’ve been so busy lately, that I’ve been all action, all talk, all “do”…and no listening. I’ve heard a lot of cool podcasts. I’ve heard my friends as they’ve updated me, and I’ve heard what my partner’s told me. I’ve heard good news and bad news. I’ve heard all sorts of things, including my own body telling me to please slow down and please rest.
But have I listened?
My initial answer I wanted to give was, nope! I haven’t been listening! That’s my problem! I need to listen more. But that’s not a complete answer. The truly complete answer is I have been listening (albeit in short spurts and bits and pieces), but I haven’t been listening closely enough. Taking that unexpected time to really listen to my inner wisdom this morning put me into a place of much greater peace about what is currently going on in my life, and it brought some much needed clarity as well. I noticed my heart rate calmed down, like my body was like, “Finally! She’s freaking paying attention!! Took her long enough!” And then, I listened as a few key messages came through. I also realized that when I was listening, I wasn’t “listening” in the sense of actually responding to what I was receiving. Moving from listening to a message to LISTENING to a message and taking intentional action was transformative. I realized I needed to switch up some of my morning routine to create little more calm in my days, and I actually did it. I listened to my exhausted body ask me to not stay overnight at a conference and instead to come home and get some extra sleep, and I felt a million times healthier the next day. I listened to the urge to check in with a friend and offer some coaching, and it turns out she was grateful for my time and energy. I listened to my gut about a business decision, and it gave me some very clear data to work with for deciding my next step.
If you’re not a meditator, don’t worry. I’m not saying all of a sudden you need to sit cross-legged on the floor with incense burning and Gregorian chants going on in the background, although I’m here for it if that’s your jam! I am, however, saying that the act of intentionally listening can open up some new insights for you that will help you take action in ways that are better for you and more beneficial for the outcomes you’re trying to achieve. Nothing crazy is required- just allow yourself to settle in for a few minutes, close those eyes, and start to listen to what presents itself for you. If it’s frenzied and frantic and recounting all the items that should be on your to-do list, try to listen to that quieter undertone that’s speaking up behind all that. What else is your inner wisdom or your body asking of you? What can you do to respond to it?