Listen! No really, stop what you are doing and listen.
I’m having one of those mornings that I just can’t seem to move forward. I overslept, got onto a coaching call three minutes after opening my eyes (for myself, not for a client), and then logged on 6 minutes late to my virtual conference that I am attending today.
This was not my plan for the day.
I was going to get up early, get my blog done before getting coached, and then exercise before the conference.
It was a really good plan.
One that went out the window as soon as I opened my eyes at 7:57 am.
And so now I am between conference sessions, spinning about how I can structure the rest of my day to accomplish what I want. I just have to write something brilliant first… but what?
And so I take my favorite gel pen, scrawling ideas in my notebook, looking at past posts, scouring my mind for an idea, any idea, at this point I may even let go of the requirement of brilliance.
But tugging at my awareness is that it is a beautiful day. I am sitting in my backyard in a sweatshirt in the sun. It’s really the best kind of day, cool enough for a sweatshirt but the sun feels warm and glorious on my face. I just want to close my eyes and experience this moment. I want to step back from the pressures of writing and conferencing and doing all the things (especially since I have not come up with any brilliant ideas.)
Is it self care or procrastination?
Sometimes it is hard to distinguish between the two.
But the pull is too strong so I take a minute and close my eyes, just listening, knowing that somehow I will come up with something to write about and get it done in time to get back to the conference.
So now might be where you wonder if I am crazy, sitting in my backyard, “just listening.”
I should probably clarify.
I am not listening for some inner voice to give me guidance (although I hear that can work).
I am not listening for some divine message to transfer to me through the sun’s rays (although that would be cool).
Nope, I am literally just listening, listening to all the sounds around me. It is literally one of the easiest and fastest ways to relax (you could call it meditating if that doesn’t turn you off).
It’s a strategy that I rely on when I am spinning and don’t have time to open an app for a guided meditation, or when I just don’t feel like it. I struggle with the “just close your eyes and bring attention to your breath” approach. I can do that for a breath or two before I am back on the merry-go-round of my thoughts.
But this practice of just listening to sounds is really simple, and really effective, and hey, maybe this is what I should share with all of you :)
It’s easy because you can do it anywhere. It’s easy because you don’t have to close your eyes or be in a distraction free place, which is what makes it helpful at work. All you have to do is pay attention to the sounds around you, all the sounds that we usually tune out. It’s like an on-the-go guided meditation. As a sound comes up, you pay attention to it, you put all of your focus on that sound. You listen to it instead of thinking of other things.
And this is where the magic lies. When your mind is fully focused on one thing, it has difficulty being disturbed by another. It’s just like when you are fully engrossed in a good book, or Netfix series, and you forget for a while about the things that are stressing you out (like coming up with something to write on a Friday morning or how you are going to get through your day with multiple patients on isolation). It literally works for all types of stress and like any other mindfulness practice, it gets easier and more therapeutic every time you try it.
I challenge you to try it right now. Tune IN all the sounds, the lawnmower, the hum of the air condition, the sound of typing, the birds, the fan in the next room, your own breathing. Let your attention rest on one thing at a time.
focus on it,
move on to the next sound.
Try it at work. Try it in traffic. Try it at home. Trust me, it works.
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