I woke earlier than usual this morning to the sound of nearby construction. Although faint, the noise was rhythmic enough to harsh the mellow of morning and lure me out of bed. My first client appointment would not be for several hours, so suddenly, I had unexpected free time to contend with. I got dressed and made myself a smoothie. Shake in hand I wandered into the family room. On the coffee table sat a stack of books, my laptop, and several television remotes. "I have choices," I thought to myself, instantly trying to fill the void. I winced at the thought of watching the news and the stack of books reminded me of all the reading I had yet to do to prepare for a class. "I can check email," I thought, but I just wasn't in the mood to engage with the world so quickly. What about sitting in the silence? the thought occurred to me. So many of my friends start their day with meditation or prayer. Why not give it a whirl. I tried. I quickly failed. Thoughts of the day's responsibilities began to swirl, and within seconds, I was reaching for a note pad trying to write everything down I didn't want to forget. Why was is so hard to get quiet? I tried again. This time I closed my eyes and just listened, trying to isolate sounds around me (inside the house and outside), and then name them. It was raining! The sound of water droplets pecking at the windows felt soothing. In the distance I heard a symphony of hammers striking nails in wood, a dog barking, an airplane, and car doors closing. Inside the house I heard my cell phone "dinging" with incoming text messages, the ticking of a wall clock, and the air conditioner kicking on. Keeping my eyes closed, I listened more intently until I could identify every single sound around me, even my own breath. I opened my eyes and looked at the time on my cell phone. I had been stationary (mentally and physically) for nearly eight minutes absorbing my surroundings! That's when it hit me. Through consciously listening I felt more connected. It was just that simple. I did the exercise again several hours later. The sounds were much different this time. Some made me very sad. Yet in that time of "connection" I was able to send loving thoughts, prayers, and warm wishes to the couple I heard arguing in a parking lot, to the driver in the car next to me who was scolding a child, and to the victim in the ambulance that went speeding by. I encourage you to find time today to listen. You might just heal a heart.
October 7, 2013