Listening - Key to Staying Awake


My friend Colleen has done it again.  She sent me another image that is perfect inspiration for my next post.  Not only do I feel seen and heard by Colleen – she is an excellent listener – but I sense she is deeply attuned to the process I am writing about, even if neither of us have a clear or rational sense of where it is going.  Colleen exemplifies the very phenomenon expressed in the image which she sent me.

Here we see the angel Gabriel craning to hear something which we assume is both quiet and important.  Look how he bends his wing, along with his hand, to funnel the sound, and how his face shows the most concentrated and caring attention.  This is the quality of listening we humans also need to develop. ‘Listening’ is key to remaining awake (the topic of my last post) and becoming who we are designed to be.

Listen.  How simple it sounds.  “But I do listen!” we say.  Yet true listening is an Art and we are called to become artists at listening.   

Listen.  The Chinese character for Listen, called Ting, is composed of symbols which represent not only the ears, but also the eyes, the heart, and the whole, undivided self.  In other words, listening is not just about hearing with our ears, though it may involve our ears.  Gabriel is listening with his whole, undivided self, and probably not just to outer sounds.  Gabriel’s listening, in this image, is to vibrations that are subtler than audible sound.  Gabriel is attuned to other frequencies.  And we would do well to be also.

As a counsellor, I listen to the words of my client, but as much and sometimes even more intently, I listen to what is not being said.  I listen to voice tone, body language (with my eyes), and to what is going on within me- such as feelings, as well as images and metaphors which suddenly appear in my mind.  I try to stay centred in my heart.

Recent research on the heart shows that the heart is a centre of intelligence, and according to many theorists, it far surpasses the brain, which is really more of a processor.  The heart is surrounded by a magnetic field which connects with other surrounding fields.  It has been shown that when we are centred in our hearts, not only are we able to receive information we would not otherwise detect, we have a healing affect on others.   

This level of listening is something everyone is capable of developing and it is not only other people to whom we can attune.  We can also develop our ability to listen to animals and even to plant life.  We also need to listen to our own hearts and souls for their deep wisdom and guidance.  And of course we need to listen to the “angels”, the voices of God/the gods.  

If the angels are listening to me with such undivided attention as Gabriel in this image, I want to do the same in return.   The quality of my life (and other life on the planet) may even depend upon it.

Marble sculpture - Angel by Ivan Mistrovic, 1918.

For more information on heart intelligence research, see Stephen Herrod Buhner’s Secret Teachings of Plants: the Intelligence of the Heart in the Direct Perception of Nature. Publisher: Bear and Company, 2004.

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