Friday, September 30, 2011

What is a listening muse?

This was my original posting in January 2011.  My intention was a monthly posting.  Didn't happen! So when I tried to access my blog - it had disappeared.  Here is blog number 1 - again.

The Listening Muse

Welcome to the Listening Muse, a name I had originally thought might be the title of an e-newsletter for my business, The Listening Center.  It turned out to be one of those good ideas that just sat on a shelf somewhere in my unconsciousness.  Fast forward a couple of years or more and I had this strong sense that it was time for me to start writing a blog. What to call it?  Aha – the Listening Muse reappeared in my conscious mind.

I liked the word muse – it brought up images of an ethereal figure inspiring creativity and art. It also rhymes with news, which seemed rather clever at the time.  On a deeper level, I know that I am being guided/inspired/led by a something beyond anything I know that I could create on my own. For me it is a sense of the Divine calling me forth.  It is not about what I want to do, it is about what I am being called to do – what I am here to accomplish. It’s more like a gift I’ve been given to share.

For the past fourteen years I have been engaged in an exploration of what it means to listen and be listened to – what I call the sacred art of listening. It all started with conversations with my spiritual mentor, who kept asking me probing questions about what I was up to in my life. He saw something in me that I didn’t see in myself. After several months it became clear to me that my vocation, my calling, was shifting. Once I committed to following that path, miracles began to happen. Everything seemed to fall into place. I began to see that my job was to stay present, open, and to listen for what wanted to happen next and it would manifest. I learned to trust that voice.

So this blog is an opportunity for me to share what I am listening to. Asking what wants to be said at this point in time – coming from a place of not knowing and yet trusting that if I am quiet, still and present I will hear the response to that question.  My hope is that you will engage with me by responding  with your stories, ideas and comments. For it is in the interaction that we will find connection, become related and learn from each other.

(It is nearly the end of the day, and my promise was to get started by my birthday, January 7th. Just made it!)

Paradigm Shifters

The Listening Muse

I’ve spent the past few days on vacation in Hawaii.  One of the joys of being there is my early morning runs, just as the sun is rising. Sometimes there is a brief shower followed by a rainbow, other times gorgeous colors in the clouds as the sun rises higher in the sky. The air is soft, with the slightest floral scent, and almost caresses the skin I stop thinking and just become present to all that is. 

Then come the insights – ideas that had been nebulous thoughts become clearer to me.  One of the strong messages this time was about paradigm shifts.  I thought about all of the movements that use the words: change agent, peace maker, bridge builder and similar terms.  Each one has a vision for a future that moves humanity forward in new ways.  We all seem to know that there is another way of being that will make a difference in the outcome, no matter the topic.

Paradigm shifters remind me of pioneers.  I know I have often felt out of step with the status quo – and eager to embrace change.  It is no surprise that I have been part of many, many groups that are forging new ground, sometimes with issues, other times in ways of organizing, styles of leadership, or communication.  I have learned a lot – and continue to learn daily.

One of the key learnings is that even though there is a commitment to change and new ways of being, there is a powerful pull towards the way things are, the status quo.   This shows up in unexpected ways.  Sometimes it is when a decision needs to be made, or when a question that is asked, or when what seems like an obstacle presents itself.  Whatever the trigger, all of a sudden something doesn’t feel right.  There is a stuckness or a stickiness, discomfort.  There is a often a sense of déjà vu – I’ve been in this conversation before  (maybe over and over again!) If you are in a group it is important that each person feels comfortable expressing this discontent.  Even if only one person has the feeling that something is off, it is critical to open up a conversation to explore it – see if it is part of the invisible old paradigm way of being or doing things.

When this happens I now know that it’s time to step back – and take a look at the bigger picture. What I often find is that I personally or the group has gone into default mode. We have reverted to old patterns of behavior, without becoming aware of it.  It can take the form of command and control, hierarchy, fear of too much change, old ways of evaluating and on and on. It is so transparent that it’s hard to see when we are in the midst of it.  When we become uncomfortable we are drawn to what is familiar – when X happens we respond with Y.  Ah, yes.  That must be the right way.  But it doesn’t feel right, given our commitment to a different future. I have learned to pay attention to these feelings of dis-ease. 

There are some practices that can remind us of our intentions.  First is to take time out – whether it’s five minutes or 24 hours.  Literally stop the conversation and have a time of silence.  Invite each person to be quiet. When thoughts come, simply let them go. Breathe. After that time of silence, invite each person to reflect on the question – what wants to be said next?  Or what wants to happen next?  (Different from what do I want to say and what do I want to happen next?) Another is – how are we being true to our core values if we …..?There is something profound about asking these questions and waiting for the response, which comes from a deeper place of wisdom.

Being an agent of change, a peace maker, a bridge builder is exhilarating and exhausting, exciting and challenging. It calls for constant vigilance – are we living into the new paradigm or have we been drawn back into previous ways of being? Shifts happen in the language we use and the quality of the questions we ask as we strive to be the change we wish to see in the world.