Auto Added by WPeMatico

The Art of Embodied Listening

The Art of Embodied Listening

The new year is traditionally a time of resolution. We take stock of the past year and decide how we’d like to change or do better. We renunciate what isn’t working and are filled with a renewed sense of hope. We are infused with a sense of possibility and confidence in our ability to achieve the goals or outcomes we may have missed over the past year.

Suddenly, as the clock turns 12:00 A.M. and we cross the threshold into the next year, it’s as if for just a moment we are free of the weight of our problems. The next year sparkles ahead blissfully unformed with the vast spaciousness and room to finally make our dreams a reality.

Our New Year’s Resolutions give us the opportunity to re-start the game and recommit ourselves to our fundamental values and truths. We get to hit refresh and come back to the deeper core of what’s important to us with renewed vigor.

The question is, why do we have to wait to give ourselves a second chance to succeed or “do better” in life?

Why do we wait until January 1st to re-start our gym regime, eat the foods we know make us feel best, get the sleep we need, end a toxic relationship, swear off Netflix or social media, or quit one of the numerous addictive habits we have?

Today, I would like to talk about what I call the art of embodied listening or the embodiment of listening. We live in a world in which information is continuously bombarding us. I think that it’s safe to say that we live in an age of informational and technological overload. We are exposed to a collective of thoughts, feelings, and energies that are in an ever-evolving stasis of cross-pollination. In fact, it’s entirely impossible to avoid each other’s influence.

The Overwhelm Baseline

I’m sure you’ve heard or even expressed the statement, “I am going to go be alone with my thoughts,” before. Have you ever wondered why the idea of being “alone with our thoughts,” seems so much more of a rarity in today’s time? It’s as if it’s suddenly become outlandish to have any semblance of alone time or space to connect and be with ourselves. To turn down the volume of our world we usually have to go on retreat or escape to an environment that has limited access to wifi and cell phone service.

We have to actively “practice,” pursue and seek the places of silence and stillness within the cacophony of our lives. It is no wonder that we have largely lost the art of inner listening. Inner listening is a quintessential building block for our care and nurturing, ability to make sense of the color, texture, and shape of our world, and is the guiding force that illuminates our path forward.

Discovering Our Inner Sanctuary

To safely navigate through the wilds of our lives, it is imperative that we have an inner sanctuary to come home to. To reiterate, when we are constantly overloaded by our outer-world, our inner world becomes so over-full that it can be a challenge to hear our inner voice. It can also be difficult to discern what we think and how we feel. Have you ever been in the situation where you and a friend are trying to decide what to do, and neither of you can make a decision? This is an excellent example of not being connected to your inner voice and sanctum.

Our desire and ability to lean into the guiding force of our inner voice is affected by many different circumstances.The overwhelming nature of our world is but one of these circumstances. If we are highly sensitive, we have an even greater propensity to losing touch with our inner voice. Our conditioning around our right to take up space and stand up for our truth and beliefs can also tremendously impact how connected to our inner voice we are.

Our socioeconomic status, gender, religion, sexual orientation, and ethnicity can drastically shape our relationship to our inner voice. The way our primary caregivers nurtured our confidence and independence also influence our ability to stay anchored and connected to our inner voice.

What is Embodied Listening?

Embodied listening is the vehicle through which we can learn to amplify our connection to our inner voice. How do we begin to re-establish our connection to this vital mechanism integral to maintaining our sanity in the world? Cultivating the art of embodied listening means that we can attune to our physical bodies signals, sensations, and cues.

Through mindfulness and presence practice we can begin to decode the unique language of our physical system. Our physical body is an outward manifestation of our thoughts, feelings, and the deeper wells of our unconscious psyche. Embodied listening happens when we can interpret and listen to the deeper communication of our inner world.

Our bodies are incredibly sensitive to our environment. Our bodies will instantaneously shift in response to whether we feel threatened or safe. Our physical body and energetic field will contract or expand depending on whether we felt relaxed and nourished or stressed.

The Practice of Embodied Listening

As a practice, you might try turning your attention and awareness to your body for a day. As you go about your day, notice with curiosity in what situations is your body contracting and expanding. Notice if there are specific circumstances, places, or people that make you feel expansive and in connection with life, or disconnected and tense in your body.

This practice is a simple awareness exercise that can help you to cultivate the first level of embodied listening. If you were just able to implement this practice your life would begin to drastically transform.

From this vantage point of embodied listening, knowing the exact foods that are most optimal for our body and the exact type of nurturing or self-care we need becomes quite effortless. Making a decision or setting a boundary doesn’t feel confusing or burdensome. Discerning between our need for connection and alone time couldn’t be easier.

The clarity through which we can access our personal truths, values, and preferences feel exponentially more accessible.

Once we are able to strengthen our connection to our inner voice, no matter what arises in our present moment experience we always have an inner home to return to. We are able to effortlessly access the higher wisdom of how to best care and nurture ourselves. We are able to consider and make decisions with greater confidence and clarity. We are able to implicitly trust and lean into the knowledge that we can catch ourselves no matter how massive the leap or vast the fall.

The post The Art of Embodied Listening appeared first on About Meditation.

Powered by WPeMatico

6 Red Flags that your Spiritual Community May Be Abusive

6 Red Flags that your Spiritual Community May Be Abusive

Did you hear Oprah’s speech at the 2018 Golden Globe awards?

Her final wish:

“And when that new day finally dawns, it will be because of a lot of magnificent women, many of whom are right here in this room tonight, and some pretty phenomenal men, fighting hard to make sure that they become the leaders who take us to the time when nobody ever has to say “Me too” again.”

The “Me too” movement is washing through many industries–entertainment, sports, politics, and others–but there is one area which has stayed strangely silent.

The spiritual community.

Despite what we all want to believe, spiritual communities, from churches and spiritual leaders, to meditation groups and yoga teachers, are not immune to abuses of power, sexual misconduct, and sexual harassment.

And there are many examples.

Years ago, my yoga community grappled with what to do when a senior yoga teacher was accused by multiple women of sexual misconduct. Just like Hollywood, many people had known what was going on but no one had spoken out.

…until one day, when many women spoke out.

So let’s start the conversation now. Let’s talk about the conditions that allow the abuse to exist and no one to speak out.

Spiritual communities have some unique challenges when addressing the issues of power and abuse. But once you recognize these traits, you will be sensitive to the signs and be able to choose healthy communities for your practice.

Why it’s hard for spiritual communities to admit to abuse

The myth of being “too spiritual” for abuse

When you visit a spiritual community or meditation group, one of the first things you’ll notice is how open and warm-hearted people are.

It’s baked in.

People are drawn to spiritual practice with the sweet desire to challenge themselves, grow, and become a wiser, more loving person. They are often seeking truth and connection.

With a whole community of people wanting to do good, you might think they would be safe from abuse.

It’s exactly this assumption that makes admitting there’s abuse particularly hard. No one wants to admit how flawed, and how completely human, they and their communities are.

It’s hard to be vulnerable–and self-protective

If you’re in a spiritual community, you’re probably there to grow.

This is a good thing.

You’re probably learning new ways to see your circumstances and looking deeply within yourself. You might be releasing old patterns.

Often this process of growing requires that you put your complete trust into your spiritual teacher and the process, even if you don’t understand it, or you think it’s odd.

But this openness has a shadow side. It can make you ignore your gut and get in situations which you wouldn’t tolerate in a different setting.

When your sense of self-protection is by-passed, you are vulnerable to abuses of power or sexual misconduct.

Cross-cultural social cues can be confusing

The final challenge to some spiritual communities is a cultural divide between the spiritual teacher and the followers. Without a shared cultural language, social signals can be misjudged. People without integrity can take advantage of this.

Signs that your spiritual community may be unhealthy

1. Questioning the teacher is discouraged.

If you notice behaviors in the teacher that are confusing, it’s natural to want to understand what is going on.

If your community discourages you from questioning him, that is a red flag.

Sometimes people don’t forbid you to ask question outright. Instead, you may be shamed or patronized. People might say things like, “When you practice more, you’ll understand.” In the worst cases, you could be shunned for not being an advanced practitioner or enough of a believer.

You are always free to ask about things that don’t seem right. If your community doesn’t agree, it may be time to look more deeply at what is going on.

2. The teacher’s helpers are anxious and competitive

Many spiritual leaders have a core group of trusted individuals who help them and support them.

However, sometimes those positions close to the teacher are used as bait to keep people from questioning abuse.

If the in-group around the leader is insecure and constantly competes for attention, or if the group is constantly changing as people in favor come and go, this could be a sign of something wrong.

Mature, stable leaders pick mature, stable helpers. They all work together without need to win the attention of the person in charge.

3. There are rumors of sexual, financial, or interpersonal misconduct

Rumors are tricky.

Of course, rumors aren’t necessarily true.

On the other hand, sometimes they are. Often rampant abuse is known by a wide circle. Disbelieving the rumors only helps keep what is going on secret.

If you hear rumors, ask questions. Find out what is true and what is not.

4. You feel ill-at-ease

Few people will say that the spiritual path is easy and without discomfort. It’s expected that you’ll feel awkwardness as you grow and transform.

But abandoning your common sense, instincts and gut-feelings is not part of that process.

If you feel uncomfortable in a situation, get yourself out of it. Reflect on it outside the group and see if your discomfort is a sign of personal growth–or a warning.

5. Your loved ones are not happy with your new practice

Sometimes when you join a new spiritual community or meditation group, your loved ones don’t like it. It’s different than what they know and they may not like your new ideas.

But sometimes your loved ones can see things you can’t.

Be careful not to dismiss their concerns too lightly.

6. The leader criticizes other types of practice

If your spiritual leader criticizes other forms of practice, claims to be the one true spiritual leader, or discourages you from leaving, be very cautious.

It’s OK to try different spiritual practices. Each technique, tradition, or teacher has something different to offer and you won’t know what is best for you until you try it.

Be wary if someone tries to convince you otherwise.

Be a new kind of spiritual practitioner

Abuse of power and sexual misconduct can happen anywhere, even in spiritual communities.

If we want to stop it, we need spiritual leaders and practitioners who are brave enough to stand up and say no. We need people who are brave enough to speak out when it does happen. We need to discard the assumption that “anything the spiritual leader does is OK.”

And most of all, we need to temper our desire to follow the spiritual path with common sense and healthy boundaries.

The “Me too” movement includes everyone in every circumstance. Let’s start the conversation in the meditation community so that no one has to say “Me too” in their spiritual practice.

The post 6 Red Flags that your Spiritual Community May Be Abusive appeared first on About Meditation.

Powered by WPeMatico