Listening

I am lucky to be an incredibly healthy person:  good genes, wonderful nutrition, battling amoebas on occasion in my childhood because I lived near the Amazon (which in turn strengthened my immune system), or perhaps a combination of all three. So when I do get sick, it feels big.

The 4th of July weekend was a lot of fun, but I also ran head on into grief and loss. Holidays were enjoyable with my ex, and we had many special traditions and rituals that are hard to live without now. I’ve also been pretty busy here lately, maybe too busy. And not getting enough rest, staying up too late, still getting up early, setting up a separate household, negotiating big changes. So it’s no surprise that when I came across a virus that it “got” me. I can’t remember the last time that I missed work because of being ill, and I was out for two days last week. This wicked bug made me so sick that I completely lost my voice (a particularly egregious hazard for a psychotherapist) and could do little more than sleep or blow my nose and cough. And that is considering I had an acupuncture treatment right at the onset of my symptoms. 

I wrote an entry for last week, and it was sterile. I accepted defeat and made the decision that no post is better than a bad one. And I have to say that I’m still recovering and not feeling very inspired. So, what is my take-away?

I have a precious friend, who is like a sister to me, who is part Mexican. She had gone for a long vacation to visit family and her homeland. She sent me a postcard, stating that she was not sure why the card in my hands was the one for me, but she felt that it was. It is a simple picture of a colorful and rustic red chair located at the former Franciscan Convent of Santa Ana. I joked with her when I texted her to thank her for the card that I knew immediately why she had been drawn to that one. The oracle for me was to 1) sit down and 2) listen. What else do you do in a convent but consider your connection with God?

We have the erroneous belief as humans that communication is just about talking. Are we getting the right words out, are they conveying what we really mean, or is our tone appropriate and does it match the content? While all of these components do indeed contribute to an effective conversation, listening is equally important, but frequently not given its due. How often are we waiting for the other person to stop speaking so we can say what’s on our mind, not really hearing what was just said to us? Not listening robs both parties the satisfaction and salve that attunement so generously grants. And I’m realizing that the same is true in a spiritual sense.

I want to slow down, sit still and really listen.

NN