I blink away the bleary eyes at my early-morning crossing guard post. Far enough away from school, almost no one takes this route. I am alone and bored. I decide to follow my heart’s desire and begin singing at the top of my lungs. Creating a tune of my own, I am purely in the moment of being happy. I even do a few dance moves that I like and feel bliss expressing myself. That is, until I notice I have an audience.
My eyes meet with a neighbor lady walking her dog and I know in an instant the smirk on her face is in reaction to my impromptu performance. I had no idea how long she had been out there or how much of my one-woman show she caught, but I was mortified! I wanted to throw up and run away, but I had to stay at my assigned spot. So, I just stood there and tried to ignore myself as the lady and her little dog turned the corner and disappeared.
That was both a beautiful and mortifying moment. Beautiful in that, as a 10 year old girl, I felt free to listen to my heart’s song and just sing it. Mortifying because I felt shame for expressing what I heard inside. I’ve been writing about digging deeper into silence and into self to hear the messages contained in the quiet places of our hearts and minds. As we practice the art of presence, the delicate gift of listening to self, we begin to hear the messages of our hearts, thoughts and spirit.
On of my favorite poems is The Guest House by Rumi (1207-1273).
He writes at one point,
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
I like this poem because it encourages us to embrace the totality of our emotional experience—the pretty, and the not-pretty. Later in the verse, Rumi talks about how feeling these prickly emotions are a kind of house cleaning for our souls. That by leaning fully into them, we are prepared for something new and delightful to take their place.
How do we get there? First, we must bravely and courageously stay present to the emotional discomfort, remembering that we are not those emotions, but instead, we are a human being feeling the emotions. Then, we engage in the process of learning how to be with ourselves at these times—through silence, through listening, and through sharing (when we are ready). Once we have explored our emotional experience, we can then consciously move forward, armed with the intel of what’s moving through us and is desiring expression. We can take action that is congruent with our innermost self and create vitality, balance, and well-being.
The most effective way I have found to practice and deepen listening to myself is through a guided body scan. It’s a gentle meditation that brings attention to the body in a systematic and compassionate way. It’s a practice that can lead to improved relationship between your mind, heart, body, and soul.
As a gift to all my readers, I’m sharing this ~13 minute guided body scan meditation. For the best results, find yourself a quiet place where interruptions are limited. Listen often as you’d like and share with someone you think might benefit from the practice, if you feel so moved.