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the art of listening

I recently went to a music improvisation workshop. I came in with no expectation, and left with a new beat. We explored finding the internal pulse, of yourself and of the group as unity. This means, maintaining the rhythm internally and keeping your own melody despite what is going on around you. It takes quite a discipline of the mind to maintain both unity within a group, to not be distracted by the other group, while keeping harmony with that other group doing something completely different from your own tempo and rhythm, with no set parameters, rules or instructions. Just what comes naturally and unexpectedly. 

The workshop started with a 5 minute listening meditation just listen to the sounds around. It was interesting that some people in the group could not grasp the instruction, I guess because it was so simple and seemingly pointless. But listening is quite different than hearing. You can hear a sound, but to listen is the careful art of not reacting or judging the sound. The instructor made the analogy, that how often when someone is talking, are we already thinking about what we want to say next? That we cant wait to share? That we are thinking about what the person is saying, giving an opinion before the person has finished expressing what is coming to them. I know this all too well, as I sometimes find myself too excited by ideas, inspirations, and thoughts that it interrupts the flow! 

Only when we listen, can we have the chance to acknowledge the voice inside that either says, « avoid this sound, this sound is one I hear all the time so I will just ignore it, make the sound better, etc… » Naturopathic doctors are trained in the art of active listening, however, like any art, the more you practice, the more you can refine the precision of the art form, experience making mistakes and fumbles, and then find yourself as a conduit for the artistic expression or revelation. This workshop was a great complement to tune-in again to the art of listening. Music, people, nature, breath…all requires the ears to be open and to hear. 

How else to practice the art of listening? Close your eyes while engaging in your activity. This will greatly influence your ability to hear everything, and to not be distracted by the other senses.

I am so looking forward to spring when the birds will start to sing! This will be a great chance to do some listening mindful meditation practices. 

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