Monday, November 2, 2015

Meditation Monday: Listening

By Nancy Hall, MA, NCC, LPC
In an effort to take the “manic” out of “Monday,” this weekly post explores techniques, issues, latest research, and other thoughts on meditation. Nancy facilitates a weekly meditation group at The Awakening Center. For more information, contact her at 773.929.6262, extension 17 or

The human brain is a wonder. With it, we can do algebra, learn to drive, and figure out how to make cauliflower palatable. But so much of our energy is taken up by the thinking part of the brain. Rumination. Worry. Obsession. Thinking becomes a dream-like state. A trance.

This trance can become a barrier that isolates. Our ability to take in data becomes impeded. Our bodies from the neck down seem separate from our minds.

Meditation can help us awaken from that trance. By breathing and intentionally connecting to the sensations in the body, we begin to gather new information. Your thinking part may tell you that going on that second date is a good idea, but in the meantime, your stomach is in knots.

Psychologist and meditation leader Tara Brach teaches that the first step in opening up the experience is to listen. Listen not only with the ears but with the whole body. Allow yourself to receive the information that is churning through your body from the inside out. 
  • Listen to sensations: Is there twisting, tightening, loosening, fluttering, and so forth?
  • Listen to emotions: Happy, sad, afraid, angry? How are these emotions expressed in the body?
  • Listen to the sounds actually present: What sounds are in the room? Outside the room? Notice the space between sounds. Receive sounds that are actually present instead of listening to the chatter in your head. 

We have so much information available to us if we just listen fully. This is not easy, I know. Thinking and ruminating can be a defense mechanism for some. Trauma or intense emotions can make listening to the body feel unsafe. It’s OK to go at your own pace—start small by checking in with one neutral part of your body. Feel your feet against the floor. Listen to the sounds outside for 60 seconds.

Take these steps with gratitude.

Enjoy your practice.

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