Monday Meditations

Deep Listening

As I continue to grow and improve myself I look to people and resources to help me. I have a select few magazines I like to read for more opportunities of growth. I thought I would share my take away from an article on Hearing/Listening from Mindful magazine the February 2017 issue.

I am a strong believer that we all can cultivate a wonderful life through our daily practices. I read this article a long time ago but I feel like I need to revisit it. The art of deep listening is something that is fleeting for me. I don’t know if I can use the excuse of being in a time with so much technology and all of the various daily inputs and interruptions. But I remember when I first read the article I felt a deep sadness that I struggled so much with something that seems so basic as listening.

What I failed to let sink in is that giving someone my full attention is a skill that must be a regular practice in order to sharpen it. It must be a conscious effort to strengthen the skill. With a few weeks before my boys start school as well as my return to work, I have to to admit, I am all over the place with my attention preparing and planning. But the truth is focusing my full attention has escaped me on a regular basis. So a review of this article is just what I need right now.

Contrary to what we believe, we really can’t focus on multiple things at once. The brain simply doesn’t work that way. But I feel like our current culture with it’s smart devices and news tickers, create the sense that we can focus on multiple things at the same time. I, for one hate when you watch the news on TV and a news ticker rolls across the bottom of the screen. I find myself stressing, should I read it or listen to the news reporter?

This article talks about of all our communication skills, listening is the one most called upon and neglected. It is the key to learning and creating meaningful relationships and yet we take for granted it’s need to be strengthened.

What is listening?

Often we hear something and before we know it we’ve labeled, categorized, and shelved it. At its core, listening is really just taking time instead to experience what we’re hearing in the moment.

Listening is a skill that takes time and effort. Think of it as a daily practice.What I loved about this article is that it broke things down into manageable bites.

First you need to set clear intentions to be a better listener. This will give you something to reference when you check in with yourself so you can catch yourself when you drift off. This can be challenging because there is no one can hold you accountable because only you know what runs through your mind when you listen and how focused you are. Therefor you have to be clear and honest.

Once you recognize what you’re doing, take a deep breath, smile because you noticed, and redirect back to genuine listening. It’s like returning to your breath in meditation, noticing, and returning to your breath in meditation. And just like with meditation, noticing and returning to the present is really the goal. Your mind will drift away, so keep on coming back.

Once you set an intention to listen, you can work on going deeper in conversation.

Listening involves paying attention both to what another person is saying, and what that person is trying to communicate beyond words.

The article introduced a practice to help hone those listening skills and I plan on restarting it again for myself. It is called the HEAR practice and it can help you deepen your listening skills.

H.E.A.R.

HALT – Halt whatever you are doing and offer your full attention.

ENJOY – Enjoy a breath as you choose to receive whatever is being communicated to you – wanted or unwanted.

ASK – Ask yourself if you really know what they mean and if you don’t, ask for clarification. Instead of making assumptions, bring openness and curiosity to the interaction. You might be surprised at what you discover.

REFLECT – Reflect back to them what you heard. This tells them that you were really listening.

This is a great practice and it really helps you to slow down and be in the present moment. Let me know if you give it a try and be patient for you can begin again over and over with each opportunity you are presented with to listen.

Belinda

Happy Monday!

Renovations…

Well so much for me bouncing back into my regular blogging routine. I didn’t foresee the extension of the work of the carpenters and painters we hired to repaint and repair some wood rot on the exterior of our home. The work began on July 1st and we are still in the mix. The painters would be closer to finished however the carpenters discovered some wood rot that is on a corner beam of our home which could be really serious. So today they will wrap up their original work and begin to look into it to see what kind of damage we are dealing with and what additional costs needed to complete the work. I am pleased with the work to date I am just trying to prepare for the new scope and the additional time it will take to complete the work. I also didn’t foresee the heatwave that just wiped me out this past week and especially this weekend. I literally just wanted to lay on the couch and drink loads of water all day. Not my best moments. Needless to say, I wasn’t quite in the mood to sit down and write a post.

Carpenter at work.

Today the humidity has lessened and the temperature has dropped enough for me to work outside on my deck. So I am sitting out here with my husband who is also working from home. I have some Coltrane on my headphones and in my periphery I can see the contractors move about. I know despite the unexpected additional work, the house will look beautiful. We had been putting this off for long enough so I am pleased to check that box.

Paint scraping and electrician securing safety.

How has your summer been so far? I always feel rushed as we near the end of July. It has been a fast ride here especially since we had a cold and wet spring. I cherish the additional outdoor time because in the winter, I don’t spend much time outside.

I’ll send some garden pictures soon to show you where it is at this time. The heat has made it a struggle for me to weed. I don’t like doing it much anymore and the heat only discourages my feeble efforts. But despite it, I see my vegetable garden progressing and so thrilled to see my garlic soon. I keep checking in on my garden guru friend on when I can harvest them and she keeps telling me to be patient. So I wait.

We have had two Robin families put their nest in a shrub next to our house. It’s really an honor however it is near my water source and so when I go to reach below the tree to turn on the water to water my plants, the mother and father bird swoop low over my head and then land on my garage and squawk at me until I leave. I try to explain I won’t hurt the babies but they won’t hear it. It’s wonderful to watch the cycle of life so close up despite my run ins with mom and dad.

Well I am off to get some work before my boys decide it’s time to get out of bed. I will be back later this week with some crafty happenings. Have a blessed day!

Belinda

I’m Back!!!!

Hello friends! I hope you haven’t forgot me in my long absence. I apologize. I got caught up with the end of the school year and then bam, right into my family summer vacation. But now I am back and preparing to head out of town for the holiday weekend. I now know I prefer space between vacations and weekend escapes. I usually need a week to recover from vacations and a few days to recover from weekend escapes. My mind has a hard time turning back to routine. Oh and one last vent (that’s what I’m doing right?), we are having our home painted and repaired and the contractor arrived the day after we arrived back from our vacation. They arrive each day at 7:30am and leave around 4. AAAAAgggg!!!! That limbo state kinda stinks but I know it will be worth it in the end.

On the positive side, the rain took care of my lawn and garden while I was away so everything looks fantastic. I think I only lost one plant.  The photos above are from my garden yesterday. I will share some vacation photos in my next post. But I wanted to pop in and make sure you didn’t forget me. I hope you are having a lovely summer!

Belinda

Monday Meditations

“When we ignore acknowledging and seeing injustice, when we turn our face, then we legitimize it and allow for the corruption of our values.”

Let me give some background before I talk about this quote. For many years, I had a Sunday morning ritual. I would wake up hours before my family, make a cup or pot of tea and a light snack. I would put them on a tray and head out to my living room and watch an episode of Super Soul Sunday on OWN. I always brought my Kindle, a special journal for my notes and a pen. While sipping my hot tea, I would listen to the discussions about faith and spirituality. I would pause it to write notes and at the end I would reflect on the lessons I learned and tried to find ways to open to new concepts. I wanted to find ways to apply them in my life. I called it my spiritual time. I guess in a way it was my equivalent to going to church.

In 2017, Oprah made a beautiful book called “The Wisdom of Sundays”with lessons she picked up from her many discussions from her guests on Super Soul Sunday. It was a much prettier version of what I had been doing over the years. So I bought it and love looking through it for inspiration and guidance. I still have my journal which I call my spiritual journal and look at it often because the lessons remain relevant.

I opened it up today to look at one of my first entries in my journal. I wrote the notes on December 20, 2015. Oprah’s guest was Zainab Salbi, a women’s right activist and humanitarian.  She is also written a couple of books and founded the Women for Women International. The quote I have above is from Oprah’s talk with Mrs. Salbi.

I will quote it here again:

“When we ignore acknowledging and seeing injustice, when we turn our face, then we legitimize it and allow for the corruption of our values.”

This quote is on the first page in my journal. And I couldn’t turn the page. It speaks to me when I think about the current turmoil our country is in the midst.

I take in the news differently for the past three years in hopes of some self-preservation. It can be overwhelming to take in the content of the news and the bombardment of social media. So I actively take in information in smaller doses and on different mediums.

This quote speaks to me because sometimes my acts of self-preservation are at the expense of my values. When I should be leaning in to help bring forth change, I lean back and grumble. Progress in our society will take place when we lean in to the chaos. Only when we acknowledge the truths can we begin the process towards healing.

What I like about quotes like this, is the universality of it. It can be applied to so many aspects in life. That is why I revisit my journal. It helps to ignite the fire in me. It helps me take off my blinders and participate in not only my growth but the growth of others.

I hope you liked this post. It is not meant to push religion or spirituality into your life but my hope is that it will help you to find reflection that leads to personal growth.

Namaste!

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