Monday, May 4, 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

I’m often in awe of our problem-solving abilities. There seems to be no challenge or obstacle that we as people cannot overcome. Human beings can be tireless and able to reach amazing heights.

Doing is very important, but we need to remember to keep it in balance. In meditation, we pause to listen.

Listening is a unique activity in that it requires us to receive instead of do. To really listen to a friend or loved one, we have to stop, focus, and closely tune in. We allow the information to flow in, accepting it as it comes. A barrier to listening is often our attempts to formulate a response while the other person is still talking. Or we might be distracted by an opinion or judgment about what is being said.

We fall into this trap with ourselves as well. Meditation helps us listen to ourselves. We can listen to the surface of the body and to the interior of our experience. We listen to our breath. But we also tune in to our relationship to the information that we’re receiving.

Here’s an example. In my inner reflection and listening, I might notice that I am hungry. But I might resist this information, telling myself that I had a substantial breakfast so I shouldn’t be hungry. I might tell myself that my hunger is a sign of weakness. Or I might just tell myself that it’s time for a snack. Often our resistance or acceptance of our experience informs the emotion that is then experienced.

In the practice of meditation, we listen at different levels. We attend to the specific experience and then notice our thoughts or feelings about that experience. Think of it as the meta-commentary that runs through our minds.

By anchoring ourselves in our breath and learning to allow our experiences to simply exist, we begin to dismantle that resistance.

Nancy Hall, MA, NCC, LPC is a staff therapist and the intake coordinator at The Awakening Center. In addition to seeing clients for individual therapy, she leads the weekly meditation group and co-leads the Somatic-Experience-Informed Trauma Healing Group. Check and subscribe out her blog “All Shapes and Sizes,” which appears on Chicago Tribune’s media partner