I am a good listener, or maybe not. Maybe I’m just a better listener than I am a talker. Entertaining stories and antecdotes do not just roll off my tongue. Unlike my husband, who is a great talker. He can speak intelligently about any subject, and he can tell the same joke over and over. Even if the listener knows the punchline, they still find it funny.
I recently attempted to recall one of his standard jokes that always gets big laughs, and it fell flat, like sea pork. It rolled around in my audience’s mind for a few moments, and then shamefully, I had to explain it to the reply of a sympathetic chuckle. So, I stick to listening.
Listening is easy if we are interested in the subject or in the person doing the talking, right? But what if the person doing the talking is us, and the subject is our own body?
Example: When leading a yoga class, I often say these words, “Move slowly into your ‘edge,’ and when you reach your edge, stop. Relax and breathe into this new place.” Some people listen to their bodies, find their edge, and do, indeed pause. Some, listen to the voice in their head that says, “Push harder; no pain, no gain; I need to sweat.” How do we know which voice we should be listening to, and when we hear the voice speaking to us, what if we choose to not listen?
This summer my brother-in-law was suddenly diagnosed with a very aggressive brain cancer. The doctor said it had only been growing a matter of weeks when it was discovered, and the prognosis is not good. I believe his body was talking to him before he went to the hospital for diagnosis. I am quite certain he was aware of his slurred speech, the change in his gait, and his unusual mood swings. Was he listening? Probably. Those symptoms are things we do not want to hear from our bodies. Perhaps he was listening but decided not knowing was better than knowing. I would probably agree.
Day in and day out, we live with a voice in our head. You can call it “ego” or “subconscious” or just plain annoying, but it’s there and it’s seldom quiet. In the book, “The Untethered Soul,” author Michael A. Singer tells us to step back and observe the voice. Listen to the dialogue, but don’t be a party to it. Not easy to do when you’re lying in bed at night trying to sleep. As the clock ticks on, the voice in your head gets louder. It’s reminding you of the things you forgot to do today, or the important events coming up tomorrow. It recalls that conversation you had that didn’t go so well. It’s pointing out the pain in your left hip. It’s jealous of your spouse sleeping soundly beside you. How we wish to silence this voice!
So, how do we become good listeners? How do we discern which voice we should cozy-up to and which one we “tune out?” When our oldest son was in college, his first two years were spent studying beer and women. Somehow he still graduated just a couple of summer courses past four years, but there were many “discussions” between parent and adult “child” during that time. Like a fool, I asked what compelled him to make some of the unwise decisions he made, and I will never forget his reponse. “Mom, I always know the right thing to do. Sometimes I just chose not to do it.” Fair enough. I suppose if we always listen to the voice of reason we will somehow miss out on the experiences that feed our future good judgement.
Like everything in life, listening is a choice we make. What voices we carry with us are also a choice, and which voice we actually listen to is the most important decision of all. Whether it’s the voice of our body or the words in our heads, we must carefully observe what we’re hearing. The distraction of chatter and worry serve no purpose in your life. It is the soft voice that guides you to your “edge,” then quiets as you enjoy this new place, who will bring the greatest rewards.
Laurie Kasperbauer is an active Florida Realtor specializing in properties in Naples and Marco Island. Laurie also enjoys the spiritual and physical benefits of yoga practice and instructs both group and private classes.