Layers Of Listening
Anyone living life and becoming more conscious spends a lot of time listening. We listen to people, to music, to all the sounds of daily existence. We can’t shut our ears the way we can our eyes, and most of us don’t even think about it. Like horses with ears pointed forward, we lean in when we hear something we like, and when we don’t, we back away.
Over the years I’ve been told I’m a good listener, which comes easily for me, because I’d usually rather listen than talk. It’s different from, say, the attention a student gives in trying to stuff her brain for a test, but both can be short circuited if they arise from a limited segment of our attention. The magic of our human selves means there are fuller ways to listen, from deeper layers of ourselves.
Meditating is a kind of deeper listening. Of course, the first thing we find is an inner chatterbox that seemingly will never shut up. If we stay with it, we learn to surf our thoughts and feelings, and over time that rough sea subsides, leaving new discoveries embedded in the quiet.
Buddhism teaches that there are three gateways to the divine ground within our physical bodies: the back of the palate in our heads, the heart center, and the lower abdomen. These are places we can listen from anytime. The heart is a natural listening post, yielding an astonishing amount of compassion as we review our own stories or hear those of others. That compassion not only grows our heart, but shows us how much bigger we are than we thought, and how connected we are to all of life.
We could listen from our big toe if we wanted. Our natural ability for expanded awareness would easily allow that. The late Ken Wapnick, editor and teacher of A Course in Miracles, used to say that A Course In Miracles was not written for our ordinary minds, and that it was our bigger self that actually heard the teachings. Similarly, the sounds of the natural world, the words of loved ones, or musical masterpieces illuminate our entire energy field.
Our attention, wherever we direct it, is incredibly valuable, and as we learn to listen with all our layers, we get to know ourselves in new and more profound ways. This is the best gift we can give ourselves.
Debbie Ritter is a spiritual intuitive who reads and teaches the Akashic records and practices meditation. A former lawyer and expatriate, she currently lives on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington state.