Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Week 14 - Listening Anew

"The book of your heart is where your answers reside. Learn to be still and to listen inside." ~excerpt from my book The Book of the Heart

The end of this fall and beginning of winter have been particularly frigid and snowy -- even by Minnesota standards. Because of that, we haven't gotten out to walk the dog, or consequently ourselves, often enough for our liking. More than ten years ago when Trooper was a pup -- and my husband and I were more "puppish" -- we would brave any weather, tromping through the woods regardless of snow storms or sub-zero temperatures. We still love our jaunts but are considerably more "sensible" these days when deciding under what conditions we're willing to brave the elements.

Which leaves me in a predicament. I'm not one who desires to own exercise equipment and yet I am keenly aware that I need to be doing something if not out walking and hiking for three months out of the year. Yoga had been my foundation until I hurt my back last spring and while I'm mostly healed, I'm frankly a bit sheepish to jump back in as readily as I'd like. It makes me deeply uncomfortable not to have that physical outlet, so much so that I was overcome in November with the itch to fix it...which is what we typically do, right? Unhappy? Make it better. As the famous Nike marketing campaign says, Just Do It. So, instead of settling in with my new meditation practice and allowing myself to sit in the discomfort to see what insights came, I did as I've done more times than I'd like to admit -- I went and joined "the club".

One morning this past week, I woke up knowing in my bones that I needed to cancel the membership. I think it was Einstein who said that insanity is doing the same thing over and over again while expecting different results. Insane as charged. I had been to the club about five times over the past two months, which is admirable considering it took me a whole three-and-a-half minutes on the elliptical machine on my first visit to remember how much I detest that kind of contrived exercise. I would rather do nothing than walk on a treadmill. I love being active, but not like that. It works for lots of people...it doesn't work for me.

And I realized that that was the point: Just because it's there, doesn't mean we have to do it...where "it" can represent just about anything. We are allowed to love what we love and need to do our best to honor that. Which often means taking the time to go within and to listen, to remember, and to do what works for us.

This week, I sense that something has shifted. It seems that as my mind becomes more still, I'm not only able to listen better, I'm able to hear more. As I pulled into the driveway this afternoon I knew in my heart that it was a beautiful day for a walk in the woods.

"It's too cold," cried the booming know-it-all in my head. It dawned on me that this had become my automatic reaction given our current stretch of weather.

What I had let myself forget was that every day is a new day, every moment its own opportunity for newness, which has absolutely nothing to do with the past or the future. Seize the moment. The present moment. Isn't this what the meditation project is all about? Becoming more present, listening more closely, connecting more fully to my heart and living according to what works for me? Ah, yes, of course. Now I remember!

As it was, this afternoon was beautiful. I loaded Trooper into the car for our trip to the woods and found my heart was filled with gratitude...not as much for the optimal weather (temps in the twenties, flurries with no wind), as for the fact that I could listen deeply enough and respond to that tiny voice that suggested a walk. The small voice that is ordinarily overpowered by the booming ego voice who knows all and tells all with no apology.

The voice of our intuition doesn't fight to be heard. Our job, if we want to hear it, is to remember how to listen. This, I'm finding, is the benefit of the meditation that more than three months ago I could only hope to access. It's certainly not been without its challenges...but it is definitely worth it.

I'm happy to say I'm listening anew. And am back in the woods where I belong...//

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