Deep Listening



God’s call is mysterious;
it comes in the darkness of faith. 
It is so fine, so subtle,
that it is only with the deepest silence within us
that we can hear it.
Carlo Caretto

Listening can be understood as seeking guidance from a higher level of consciousness and understanding. By entering into a stillness that is holy—that contains wholeness—silence brings us into our own wholeness. We remember—and re-member—pulling together that which has been lost in the fragmentation and distraction of daily living. 

In this silence, from this stillpoint, is the only place where true choice can be made. Because we become quiet, we learn to hear the I AM at the heart of creation, and in our own hearts, so that we can choose from the center of our being instead of the periphery of outward circumstance. Then each choice is made with clear intention. We are inspired from within instead of reacting from what is happening without. Though outer circumstances change, this deep listening keeps us centered in a larger spiritual reality. 

As we grow into our ability to experience inner and outer silence, our interior lives become richer. We discover that the silence and the void we feared is actually a living presence. The “still small voice” is now the insistent pulse of the Life Force making itself known in us. 

If you have ever been in a place of awesome beauty—the ocean, a mountain top, a cascading waterfall, the edge of the Grand Canyon—you have tasted this presence. Silence like a great cathedral allows you to enter the mystery and beauty of your own inner presence. 

• Exercise: Take an extended walk in wild places. Let nature nurture you and savor a silence full of living creatures, wind and weather, and all the sounds that speak to the soul in a way that human-made sounds cannot.

I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.
Henry David Thoreau

A mystic is not a mysterious person, but is one who has a deep, inner sense of Life and of his unity with the Whole.
Ernest Holmes

The source of all abundance is not outside you. It is part of who you are. …The fullness of life is there at every step. The acknowledgement of that abundance that is all around you awakens the dormant abundance within. Then let it flow out.
Eckhart Tolle

The crust of the everyday must be broken through.
Eugene Delacroix

If you want to become full, let yourself be empty.
If you want to be reborn, let yourself die.
Tao Te Ching

Let us remain as empty as possible so that God can fill us up.
Mother Teresa

Prayer can be understood as the gathering of attention. The inner effort, which is the work of gathering and recollection, leads to peace within. When this peace has gathered sufficient strength it can face the world in a new way.
Kabir Edmund Helminski

The greatest security we can have, in the face of antagonism and the inner and outer complexities of life, is to be consciously connected with the unchanging sense of self at the core of our being.
John Maxwell Taylor

The boasted strength of the personal self is really its weakness; true strength lies in that which dwells behind the personal self. We may draw on the infinite, if we will, and thus achieve the seemingly impossible.
Paul Brunton

…that serene and blessed mood,
In which the affections gently lead us on—
Until the breath of this corporeal frame
And even the motion of our human blood
Almost suspended, we are laid asleep
In body, and become a living soul; 
While with an eye made quiet by the power 
Of harmony, and the deep power of joy,
We see into the life of things.
William Wordsworth

One instant is eternity,
eternity is the now.
When you see through this one instant, 
you see through the one who sees.

Your endeavor, then, is not so much to find God as it is to realize His presence and to understand that this presence is always with you.
Ernest Holmes

The secret of meditation is silence: no repetitions, no affirmations, no denials—just the acknowledgement of God’s allness, and then the deep, deep silence which announces God’s Presence.
Joel Goldsmith


The Wisdom of Silence

Spring Beauties

Spring Beauties

To the mind that is still, the whole universe surrenders.
Lao Tzu

Silence enriches and changes us. Learning to be in silence on a regular basis brings a greater flow and ease to life. We access body wisdom as well as inner wisdom. We find rest, refreshment, and an expanded awareness that is more sensitive to life. We discover a new playfulness and childlike receptivity. We become more at home in the universe and in our own bodies. 

The time spent in silence spreads its influence beyond our practice of silence and stillness. The moments of silence radiate out into our days, gradually transforming our experiences of life. Drawing on the deep wisdom of the timeless and eternal, we discover that our daily round of errands, laundry, meetings, work, relationships, and social obligations begin to partake of the attributes of timelessness, peace, and even eternal bliss. The living listening presence that is at the core of who we really are as human beings becomes the center around which all the rest of life orbits.

• Exercise: Share silence intentionally with others. Setting aside silent time as a group is a powerful way to be together. Be silent with others consciously, setting aside an agreed upon time and place to be in quiet together. Enjoy a discussion afterward about how it felt and what you learned. Or leave in silence, connected to the energy of the group without needing words. 


Sweet Silence

Blossom Time

Blossom Time

It has been said, “prayer is the fullness of attention.” When we’re completely paying attention, when we’re completely present in a moment, completely listening at all levels, we’re praying. 
—Cynthia Bourgeault

When we enter silence, we leave behind the conventional thinking of society and our habitual selves. “Peace, be still,” Jesus said to the stormy sea of Galilee, and the seas calmed to glassy stillness. So we also learn to calm the storm of our emotions and thoughts to enter a still place—no judgments, no opinions, no old scripts and self-defeating stories, no more limited thinking. No longer busy being busy and important, we allow the noise of the old life to subside as we enter the innocence of just “being.” We truly become human beings instead of humans doing. 

Entering physical silence enables us to learn to enter a spiritual silence where fear, prejudices, rigidity, resistance, projections, and stress are all released. Openness and allowing are the hallmarks of the one who has learned to enter into a silent way of being.

• Exercise: Listen to a quiet piece of music, allowing it to carry you into a place of stillness. Then spend a few minutes in silence when the music is finished. Write about your experiences in a journal.

Inviting Sacred Silence

Heart of Gold 

Heart of Gold 

Just remaining quietly in the presence of God, listening to Him, being attentive to Him, requires a lot of courage and know-how. 
Thomas Merton

Sometimes we fear silence. Mesmerized by our own noise, inner and outer, we stay remote and try to convince ourselves that we are in control as we flip from channel to channel, surfing through variations of the same theme: I am not enough. I must have all this stuff to validate my existence and prove my importance. I must fill my ears with others’ opinions and the noise of media madness, otherwise I will be out of touch—and therefore I will not really exist. Whether it is the misery of the inner monologues of self-defeat and victimhood or the toxic streams of criticism, anger, fear, gossip, and the belief that we are dependent on outer circumstances, we stay frozen in place, in a trance. We turn up the volume and lull ourselves to sleep, forgetting who we are and why we are here.

We enter the silence only to find that the silence is also entering us. Make no mistake, choosing silence means a life change—a death of the old, a birth of the new. It is a death to our old definitions of self and the defenses we used to protect our old beliefs. It is a birth into a new self that is open, receptive, and believes that anything is possible, for our potential arises from the vastness within. We are able to hear something new, think more expansively, and become a place where greater consciousness develops.

• Exercise: Do nothing for five minutes. Don’t get up and adjust anything. Don’t write ideas down. Just sit and be present, right here, right now, for five minutes. This sounds simple, but it is harder than you think. The temptation to get up to do something or be distracted is very powerful. It helps to keep a pencil and paper handy so you can take notes to be acted upon later. I find this a great exercise when I want to update my list of things to do—I remember in the silence what was forgotten in the rush of daily living. 

Affirmative Prayer
Today I wait in God's Presence, listening for wisdom from within. Today I visualize light, love, and healing for those in my life who are experiencing difficulties, and for those who are on the other side of the world who are facing challenges and tragedies. I know that the very nature of God is expressed in each person. The nature of God is love, courage, kindness, and joy. Where there is unrest, I speak peace. Where there is joy, I offer gratitude. And where there is faith, I know that love and light are there in response. 

I am also offering a special prayer for Christchurch, New Zealand, Japan, the coasts affected by tsunamis, and all who have been touched by the recent earthquakes. (note: November 2013: I met someone who lives in Christchurch who says the earthquake totally devastated the center of the city, including most of the old stone buildings, which had to be torn down. So very sad. Still, there is rebuilding, though debate continues on what will be saved, and what must be part of a new design. Many in the creative arts community moved to other places in New Zealand. Kiwis have a strong pioneer spirit. I know that the old cannot be recaptured, but there are so many stories of creative reinvention and Christchurch is recovering. )