Musings from the Moonroom

Thoughts on Art, Inspiration, Creativity and Spirit


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A Year of Mindfulness-Listen Like a Sponge

Namaste dear readers. I apologize for not being present these past few weeks. After my last post on 10/5/12, I dove head first into intensive art show preparations. When I am in that mode my commitment to blogging often falls to the side. That is what happened here. My mindfulness practice was focusing on creating art. And, quite frankly, I am not very skilled at multi-tasking any more. When I direct most of my energy to a specific project, it stays there.

So, let’s begin again and pick up where I left off. Our last mindfulness practice focused on the wind. This week we are asked to practice listening.

This Week’s Practice: Listen Like A Sponge

Oh I do enjoy this practice, especially when our lives can be dominated by technology, especially mobile phones & iPads.

With this practice, we are asked to listen to other people as if we are sponges, soaking up whatever the other person has to say. This means to not just give someone your full attention when they speak. It also means that you not form any responses in your mind until a response is requested or needed.

Uh oh, that means keeping your mind quiet when someone is talking to you. Something that does not come naturally to most of us.

Seriously, how often does your mind wander when someone else is talking to you? Be honest. You might be thinking about the speaker’s hair cut, the clothes they’re wearing, or how you wish they’d speak faster because you need to get home.

And with mobile phones and iPads, how often do you find yourself twiddling around with either device when someone is talking to you? Are you really giving them your full attention if you’re also reading your email?

Listening like a sponge is also known as “absorptive listening.” You have to make the mind and body still.

It is quite normal for most of us to “check out” when someone else is talking. Observe yourself when someone talks to you. How many times does your mind drift? Make a mental note of it. Then try to catch yourself when your mind drifts and bring your thoughts back to the speaker. You can be aware of your own thoughts but try not to be disturbed by them and let them take over.

Consider as well how you feel when someone is listening to you like a sponge. How does it feel to be witnessed by someone else?

This week, listen when someone is talking to you. Truly listen. Absorb their words like a sponge. Give them your undivided attention.

Reflection: We shall practice listening so attentively that we are able to hear what the other is saying-and also what is left unsaid. We know that by listening deeply we already alleviate a great deal of pain and suffering in others. -Buddhist recitation for invoking compassion


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A Year of Mindfulness: Pause Before Answering the Phone

Last week, our mindfulness practice was to listen. Were you listening? Were you able to quiet the mind by listening? Were you able to hear the uniqueness in even the most annoying sound in your environment?

In our active society, which is full of a multitude of noises, slowing down to simply listen is indeed a challenge. How often do you pop in the ear buds to block out noise? How often do you sit in silence?

One of my favorite practices is listening when I take a walk. I absolutely cannot bring myself to wear ear buds when walking. I love hearing the sound of nature around me. When I walk, I feel the earth below me and I hear her songs all around me. I feel a greater connection to nature when I don’t block her out.

This Week’s Practice: Pause

This week’s practice once again reminds us to slow down. The intent of this practice is to take three breaths before answering the phone. To put some space between you and the phone.

Now, if you’re like me, taking three deep breaths would mean that the phone probably stops ringing and switches to the answering machine before the breaths are complete. (Yes, I can take three, long, deep breaths.) In that case, take at least one or two deep cleansing breaths before answering the phone.

After taking those breaths, what do you notice when you do answer the phone? How do you feel? What is different between doing this practice first versus simply answering the phone?

If your phone doesn’t ring very much (and that certainly is not a bad thing), you can also do this practice with a timer. Or, take one to three breaths before answering a question, especially if you’re dealing with a difficult person.

Create space. Don’t rush forward.

Reflection: Fear less, hope more; Eat less, chew more; Whine less, breathe more; Talk less, say more; Love more, and all good things will be yours. -Swedish proverb


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A Year of Mindfulness: Listen

We end the month with two lessons on mindfulness.

Last week we practiced gratitude. As I said last week, this is a wonderful practice that should be carried out each day. At one time I had a gratitude journal and I faithfully wrote an entry each day. Over time I became lax in this practice and eventually I dropped it all together.

Sometimes I would lie in bed and think of what I was grateful for that day as I fell asleep. But that approach, while fine, doesn’t feel quite as complete as putting pen to paper and writing out the words, “I am grateful for…..” Writing seems to make things feel more permanent, more “official,” more thought out.

So it was nice to return to this practice last week. How about you?

This Week’s Practice: Listen to Sounds

This is another favorite practice. The intent with this practice is to open your ears and listen to all sounds…to really listen. We are bombarded with sound each day, from the TV to the radio, our iPods, traffic, and chatter.  We learn to block out many of the sounds in our daily life. The low rumble of the refrigerator. The barking of the neighbor’s dog.

But what if you listened to these sounds as if they were something new? Something you didn’t label or comment on. Simply just listened.

Can you hear the uniqueness in the sound?

Listening to sounds can also help quiet the overactive, yapping mind. That might be a good place to start. When your inner voice is going into overdrive, stop, tell it to quiet down, and just listen to the sounds around you.

Reflection: Even in what is called silence there is sound. To hear such subtle sound, the mind must be very quiet. -Jan Chozen Bays

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