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Relax the Need to Be Heard

Find the Innocence of Listening

You know that sinking feeling you get when you have your hand up in a class or round table talk and the mediator isn’t calling on you? You have something relevant to say, but the powers that be silence you.

Typically for me, after recognizing that the dialogue was going to continue without my contribution, my hand would come down and I’d sit stoically stewing in, what felt like, their disregard. And this is where it would end.

More recently, rather than focusing on being disregarded, I started to deliberately take a step back and focus on regarding them. I’ve become curious about what IS being said. Does my point work with or against the conversation? Is there something I could learn from listening here rather than talking? Is my comment still relevant after they have finished discussing their perspective of the issue?

The outcome consistently surprises me. When the discussion slows down, the mediator addresses me and asks, “Did you have something to add Tammy?” With eager delight I speak my mind, I’m heard with genuine interest, and I feel honored.

When I let go of the need for others to respond to me, they became interested.

 

“Not needing to make things happen, one understands deeply.

Needing to make things happen, one learns about practical matters…”

Being disregarded is an old story in my life. It is not what is happening in my life now, but the old wound can easily be triggered. I have had to learn how to step back from this trigger––the need to feel heard and considered––to successfully develop in my career and relationships.

I suspect that I am not alone in this trigger!

Here’s what to do to unplug the trigger’s charge:

  •      First, take advantage of the stoic posture. Chin dropped and drawn inward shortening the throat, while the neck is elongated toward the sky like a swan, giving you the same alignment you would use if taking an actual step backward. Then rather than filling your neck and throat with stoic anger, open the crown of your head with innocence and wonder.
  •       Second, relax your eyes back in their eye sockets, remember that they are floating in water like when we float on a blow up raft in a pool, and listen from that receded and relaxed place.
  •      Lastly, recognize the added space between the eyebrows. This space focuses you to observe openly and you instantly enjoy receiving from the other(s).

When speaking we make things happen––yang––when listening we allow things to happen––yin. On one side we are giving, on the other side we are receiving, both are essential for a dialogue. Needing one over the other brings an imbalance to the dialogue that can turn the communication spout off or cause defensive responses.

 

“… Core and surface are parts of the same whole.

It is in being open and innocent that the

Possibility of understanding arises.”

Tao Te Ching

This became apparent in my daily life when I started to address my newly adopted parrot, whom has shown signs of mishandling, with receded soft eyes rather than gregarious let’s-be-friends eyes, she instantly started purring. She clearly felt more comfortable when I was in a listening posture. I believe she felt no expectations to be or do something she didn’t want when I was listening. It was a breakthrough in our relationship.

If listening is what creates trust in a relationship, perhaps we could all learn to soften our gaze and open our crown to the wonder of innocence.

 

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Peaceful Duck

THE UNIVERSAL LAW OF PAUSE

Peaceful Duck

When We Stop Chasing It––We Experience It.

Allowing myself to sleep in past 6AM, a gesture that I don’t often make to myself, I listened to my two cats scampering about in a determined crazy-cat frenzy. If you’re a cat owner, you know that untamed state that possesses our sweet kitties and then mutates them into wild beasts?

I indulged in a mattress belly flop, half awake and half asleep, in that magical subconscious paradigm.

“Do that which is not done by doing.
Make that which is not made by making.
Taste that which cannot be distinguished by taste.
Hold the same regard for the few and the many.
Requite the unkind with kindness…”

As I listened to their industrious pitter-patter for a long luxurious moment, I handed over my current labor-intensive chase to create my perfect world, to their obvious commitment to do the same. At this particular time in my life the culmination of life altering events were coming to fruition at once.

I was involved in the last days of the last editorial read of my first book’s deadline. I had just adopted an Amazon Parrot to join my already befriended Conure of 18 years. Both had been in the works for years.

The pressure to finesse the perfect book and the perfect birdhouse were both rooted in creating alignment in the world. The book’s focus being alignment between mind and body, the bird focus being alignment between adversaries––cats and birds.

When I finally decided to get up and face my day’s demands, what I found gave me pause.
I had created my dream! It had arrived!

A tiny sparrow was motionless on my kitchen floor. One of the cats had clearly captured it and brought it in from the terrace. I know this because, though I sleep with the terrace door open the curtain is closed, so the bird did not fly in.

Startled, of course, I tried to access the situation. Was the bird hurt?

I had heard that handling the bird would ostracise the sparrow from its’ flock. For that reason I placed a clean dish towel over it, swiped it up from the floor, and brought it to a pot of dirt back out on the terrace to offer a safe and familiar resting place.

As my towel was raised from the sparrow, it quickly flew away. All was well in the world. In fact, it was perfect.

All that ruckus I had listened to in my hesitancy to get up and start my daily dream chase, was the innocent witnessing of my dream being realized.

My cats had plenty of time to annihilate the bird, (I know this because they’re great mousers) but they didn’t. They choose to play with the sparrow (it was that sparrows lucky day!). Much like their mama—me—plays with the parrots.

When I reflected back on my mattress belly flop I recalled how open my pelvis was to the bed and how my quadriceps extended in a relaxed surrender away from the determination that fuels my gut’s passion. I was in a state of what Tao calls “non-doing” receptivity. I allowed the cats to be at the helm of the household’s direction.

“… Thus, one of integral virtue desires what is not connected with desire,
Sets no value on the rare goods of the world,
Learns what is not learned through learning,
And induces people to return to that which they have overlooked.”
Tao te Ching

It was a moment of trust.

So accustomed to using my quadriceps to drive my passions forward, this incident reminded me that, yes my quadriceps’ actions produce my future forward, but my quadriceps’ release recognizes that yesterday’s future is now.

Balance giving and receiving to move forward tirelessly.

 

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How the Body Aligns You on Your First ______! And how you align it thereafter.

Malayan porcupine in nature

You meet someone new. Maybe in an interview or on a first date or a spontaneous introduction, and your heart responds openly. Your chest naturally rises, as if your body were smiling; and, the width between your shoulder blades retreats, like a porcupine retracting its quills.

 

More often than not you trust your heart’s message. You, almost without noticing, reorganize your inner self and let this new person into your life. Your passion to create alignment in business, creativity, friendship or love is ignited!

 

Then one day your body responds differently. Your chest contracts and your back widens—you are on high alert.

 

It is accepted in the West that the heart is our emotional seat and that the chest’s carriage expresses our heart’s emotional state. But in the East, it is understood that the heart carries our joy and the lungs carry our sadness, including the back’s carriage in the expression of our emotional wellbeing.

 

… Trust your natural responses;

And everything will fall into place.

                                                                   Tao te Ching

 

Your body expresses a smile of truth through your chest muscles that relate to your heart’s joy. It expresses the need to protect your smile of truth through your back muscles that relate to your lung’s sadness.

 

Cocooned between chest and back muscles the Heart Center’s rainbow of emotions are communicated through your chest and back’s alternating rise and fall. This oscillation acts as your barometer regarding what you want to align with in each moment. Your chest and back muscles take turns aligning with the situation in question.

 

When passion turns to high alert this emotional yo-yo, exhausted by extreme alignment swings, locks into one extreme or the other. Tension is the result—a physical holding pattern—that steals physical strength and mental resolve.

 

Here’s the thing…

Passion leads to purpose. What you are passionate about does not.

 

When what you are passionately aligned with is leading you away from what feels purposeful, a deliberate realignment is being asked of you. The internal alignment that happened initially, without much thought, is now demanding thought.

 

Allow your body to express what you’re feeling before you try to reason through the situation. Restructuring does not mean your more assertive—yang —nature of your back shadows the more sensitive—yin—nature of your chest, or visa versa. This restructuring asks you to meet the conflict as an aligned team that represents your smile of truth.

 

The conflict is about your relationship with the other person, not the other person.

 

Posture is the first thing that cues you in on how you feel about your relationship with something. Dialogue with your body before it shouts out with pain and fatigue. Listen when it gets energized, relaxed and sits upright. Ask yourself:

 

  •      Can passionate choices be, less about the choice and, more about being lead toward your purpose? The teaching tools that ask you to explore your values and value.
  •      Can protecting your passion be training the muscles needed for you to be purposeful? The call to action that asks you to step into unfamiliar territory.

 

What have we turned our backs on because we didn’t know what questions to ask ourselves? Living life in shades of gray offers way more options that living in black or white choices.

 

If you let yourself be blown to and fro.

You lose touch with your roots.

If you let restlessness move you,

You lose touch with who you are.

                                                                Tao te Ching

 

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You’ll Never Look at a Pregnant Woman the Same Again

Losing one’s center of gravity is a lost and found phenomenon.

There she is walking ahead of you, legs slightly spread causing her whole body to waddle side to side. She looks like she’s steadying herself on a sailboat but, even from behind, you know she is pregnant. You can’t help but marvel at the miracle of childbirth and the mystery of the female form, but have you ever considered her instability as Creation’s stability?

Pregnancy is an energetic phenomenon. Her mind body connection must navigate through an interruption of being, what she has come to know as, herself. A foreign state of instability overrides everything; she has no control over what is happening to her! How does this instability serve her as a mother to be? (Yikes, it’s enough to scare the rest of us off!)

When talking to my neighbor, Lorelei, mother of one and soon to be two, she said, “Being pregnant is hard, but it teaches me a lot about myself. I can give more than I realized!” She explains how being pregnant stretches her beyond what she knew of herself in every way!

But she had to lose herself to find herself.

Lorelei’s first experience of feeling lost was impressed acutely in her memory. The moment she couldn’t get out of the car on her own volition she exclaimed, “Oh My God, this is really happening!” When we looked deeper into that moment she said, “It’s a foreign state that is one sided. It affects mom not baby.”

My holistic interpretation of this lost while pregnant is:
•    Her center of gravity–the Dan Tien Energy Center–is engulfed upon.
•    The sense of self that comes from knowing her center is growing increasingly distant.
•   The abdominal muscles have split centrally to permit the fetus to grow, leaving her detached from her core strength.
Up until now, her energy and strength have been devoted to her independent desires. Now they are devoted to keeping an embryonic life incubated and emerging. Her autonomy is gradually disappearing. (This might be a good time to say, I love you mom!)

How does this instability sure up the future for nurturing a new life?

Stripped of independence, completely exposed to the world, overwhelmed with fatigue, empathy turns to sympathy toward herself. She is solely responsible for another life form, afraid of unexpected pregnancy conditions (breech, cerclage, preeclampsia), as well as the common cold. She believes that the baby isn’t fully hers to safeguard until it is born.

I liken this unstable state to jibbing, a sailing maneuver that turns the stern of the boat, so that the wind changes from one side of the sail to the other. There is a moment in the maneuver that the sail is completely disconnected from the wind, directionless, powerless; but to navigate through life changes one must jib, let go of the control, to transform values and align with new circumstances. This applies no matter what you are birthing in life!

In this personal maneuver she transforms. She cries a lot. She is no longer embarrassed to feel; she has no physical shame left! In this loss of autonomy an internal spark chases her into action. The urgency to nest has her spouting demands, and expecting others to jump. Her mind becomes insightful, sensitive to the single life force she is sharing with her baby, knowing (not guessing) what they need.

In this lost state she finds her direction. A direction that can only go forward; there is no turning back. She has jibbed successfully!

All of this to say, once the baby is born she will need to jib back into the wind to re-find her independence. And when she does she will become acutely aware of the split down her body’s center, where her baby once lived. Alone in herself again, she is forever changed. Lorelei remembers from her first pregnancy, “I felt like I was missing a body part. It took me nearly 3-years to actually be able to own my new self. It was a weird identity crisis.” She recalls that trying to go back was the wrong focus. Trying to be healthy and embody a better newfound sexy–mature, accepting, soft woman–is what completed her experience of being a human incubator. To create a stable internal environment her external standards had to weather physical and emotional instability, but as Lorelei says, “Life is more than appearances. I can’t imagine life without children.”

Entitlement isn’t to be judged in new mothers. It is founded in the fact that she is a spirited and devoted incubator for the human race. As fellow human beings we are obliged to help her! Help support the journey back to herself.

Are You Aligned With Your Strength or Your Tension?

When we work from strength we feel strong. When we work from tension we feel weak.

How do you feel today? 

Let’s say strong is a connectedness between your self and a challenge that leaves you feeling successful; and weak is a separation between your self and a challenge that leaves you feeling unsuccessful. The cause of separation in weakness is often due to the mind and body having a different perspective about what you are intending to do. Inner ambivalence exhausts your allegiance.

Your mind is motivated to workout; your body feels self conscious working out.
The result: 18% of gym members don’t show up at the gym.
Your mind wants to eat healthy; your body feels punished eating healthy.
The result: 68% of Americans are overweight or obese.

Mind body ambivalence creates tension filled patterns in your physical performance and mental response to challenge. To connect with your strength rather than your tension, first take a moment to focus inward. Recognize your mental, emotional, and physical condition. Take a breath. Widen back in your mind, release stress through the occipital hollows at the base of your skull. Breath again. Reorganize the body, relax muscular tension so you experience the bones weight. Then, surrender your mind and body into each other until you are OK with who you are now and who you are becoming. Begin connecting to your challenge from this place and an internal strength is coupled with an external expanse that inspires you into the challenge.

Strength is excavated out of tension.

A Year Round Practice

A Year Round Practice
January 2017

The wisdom of an eight year old on Christmas Eve brings to mind what is important year round. This invitation rested on dinner plates guiding each of us to our seats. She beckoned us to be with her here and now. As it turned out, we were present for her first Christmas without the childhood belief of a Santa Claus; what a right of passage in a child’s life.

She reminds us that here and now is precious and meaningful. Every moment is secretly packed with an experience of evolution, even the mundane, perhaps especially in the repetition of mundane life. All transformational life practices demonstrate that repetition creates change if you practice here and now.