Last month I shared that this year's inspiration, practices and offerings will chart a path to support the process of clearing, listening, aligning with and devoting ourselves to our Soul’s urgings.
As we engage in clearing the way, we are better prepared to listen deeply. Ancient dissectionists spoke of the auditory nerve being divided into three pathways. They deduced that the ear was designed to hear on different levels with respect to:
Apprehension of learning and art
Listening to the Soul itself for guidance and knowledge
While modern anatomy and physiology provide a mechanistic explanation of hearing, considering the point of view of early scientist and philosophers, provides a more nuanced perspective to orienting ourselves toward deep listening. Given this we may ask:
How often do I attune to listen deeply within?
When we do listen within we may confront myriad messages that are contradictory. Considering this we may ask:
How well do I distinguish the source and relevance of the inner voices that inform my feelings, thoughts and actions?
To draw this distinction, it is helpful to reflect upon the aspects of the psyche that are referred to as the Ego and the Soul.
The Ego is preoccupied with the material aspects of life: safety, psychical comfort, security, status and pleasure. Interested in the freedom to satisfy needs and material desires, it preferences individuation and independence. The voice of the Ego reflects the part of us that thinks in terms of avoiding struggle, discomfort, judgement, risk of failure and loss. It often express in ways that are defensive, reactionary and shortsighted.
The Soul is oriented toward wisdom perspective: ethical considerations, genuine intimacy and holistic wellbeing. The Soul charts a path toward personal/spiritual development, urging us toward vulnerability, challenge and/or discomfort, in order to learn and grow. The voice of the Soul speaks to us through inner guidence that transcends the cultural (material and dogmatic) and temporal context of our lives. The soulful voice takes the longview, leading us to our growing edge to realize our potential in this life.
We all need a healthy Ego. The key is to not let the Ego perspective run our inner dialogue. Learning to distinguish mindfully between the Ego and the Soul with respect to our feelings and thoughts is essential. Drawing this distinction helps us to make choices that align with our holistic wellbeing and personal growth.
In the coming weeks, I invite you to practice the art of deep listening. Try one or both of the following practices. The first being a simple exercise in listening within; the second an exercise in distinguishing between the Ego and the Soul perspective.
Carve out an hour or two to take a walk alone in nature. As you walk breathe deeply and listen with full attention to the sounds of the outer landscape. Find a place to sit with your back to a tree or lie on the ground and open the ears of your heart, listening to the inner landscape. Alternate between listening outside and inside.
When you feel intensity arise, take time aside and find a quite space to drop into your body through deep breathing and tuning into your senses. Either writing in a journal or recording in a device, give voice to the Ego and the Soul with respect to a situation that is challenging you or a question you are working through. Speak or write from the point of view of both the Ego and the Soul, giving equal time to both voices.
Inner listening is a skill that involves and engages all of you. Orienting ourselves toward this third level of listening allows us to discern which voices to simply listen to with an ear toward compassionate self-awareness. Within the inner spaciousness that arises when we mindfully observe our inner landscape, we can discern where to put our attention, attend to our wounds, address essential needs, take action, be still, let go, challenge ourselves...
As we become adept at listening to ourselves and orienting toward the Soul, we can extend this skill to how we listen to others. Engaging in these practices personally is of service to our partners, families, peers and communities: for the collective is a reflection of each of us as individuals.
As always I would love hear how this material lands and lives in you. Please share your thoughts or ask questions so I may better serve.
The process of mindful evolution is ongoing and cyclical. Clearing the way is a central practice to navigating within to connect to our soul’s urgings. I invite you to circle back to "Clearing the Way" when you feel blocked in your ability to go within.