By chance on BBC this morning, I caught a story about the fact that today is World Listening Day, as established by the World Listening Project. Given that the work I do has a strong basis in listening, and that in fact Ilana Rubenfeld’s book is called The Listening Hand…well, my ears perked up, so to speak.
The World Listening Project is interested in acoustic ecology: not so much the visual features of a place (the landscape), but the auditory ones – the soundscape. This is fascinating to me, as I have always been very sensitive to noises, aware of sounds, and attuned to music. In the BBC piece, they mentioned how the 6-year-old son of the founder of the group is doing a comparative project on electric hand dryers – that’s right, the things you find in public restrooms – and how loud they are. I was thrilled and vindicated to hear them mention that small children are often terrified by the sound of these dryers: as a child, I was sent into hysterics regularly by hand dryers, hair dryers, vacuum cleaners.
So today is a day for focusing on the sounds around you, and exploring their effects.
In this article, she describes how she designed a radical new intake form for her patients, where the biggest question was, What does your body need in order to heal? The answers her patients gave were often surprising, direct,and exactly the thing which, as Rankin says, “no amount of kale” can heal. “I need to leave my toxic relationship,” or “I need to forgive my father,” or “I need to write that novel” were among them, and they’re the types of messages we get when we listen to the messages our bodies have for us.
Many clients I’ve seen take good care of themselves. They exercise, they eat right, they try to get enough sleep. But many of them aren’t doing what fulfills them. Or they’re working much too hard. Or they’re in a relationship that makes them miserable. These are the kinds of changes that can only come when a person really listens to his own stress responses, her own heart and gut and sometimes, shoulders or knees or feet – and hears what all of that fatigue and pain and cortisol is really telling him.
Of course, awareness is only the first key to change. But it is critical, and lays the foundation for action.
I met my friend and colleague, Patricia Keeler, when we both arrived at Rubenfeld Synergy Training in May of 2008. I was suspicious and guarded in what felt like a too touchy-feely atmosphere; she was open and sunny and full of rainbows. We still laugh, to this day, about how much I was silently eye-rolling about her and about others in this group that made me feel so defensive. It was only after several days in that world that I figured out that this training would be asking a lot of me, making me open up not just to my own darkness, but my own light.
Patricia is awesome, and thereafter, always cracked me up and moved me deeply. In the course of the training she moved to Portland from my own home state of New Jersey, and is practicing there now. On the 4th of July, I asked people on Facebook to comment on their definitions of freedom. Patricia posted this, and I simply had to share.
Now I am ready to stay. To stay in Portland. To stay in a career. To build a home. To commit to things. And to keep expecting a huge amount from life. I am so blessed to be so truly free. I am not afraid of losing anything at all. Life brings anew. Again and again. Life brings new opportunities, people, love. Again and again.
My technology is back in working order (it only took three trips to the Apple Store…), I celebrated a lovely and quiet Fourth of July, and I’m feeling very grateful for all my first-world problems. I will endeavor to return Monday with more enlightening topics, though the summer does tend to be quiet, doesn’t it?
I loved this blog post on xoJane about the need for casual touch with friends. It may be an unpopular thing these days, but it makes a lot of sense, given that, well, we’re primates. We need a lot of touch, and I think that our society would be the better for it if we were all more comfortable with touching each other.