Tuesday, January 4, 2011


A few years ago I got pneumonia. During the time that I had it, I lost most of my hearing. Luckily, I got most of it back, and I take the vaccination for pneumonia on a regular basis for now on. I learn a healthy respect for my hearing, but even with that I don't always listen as much as I should. I don't listen to others as I am more interested in sharing my opinion and getting my point across that I forget who I am talking to. I also don't listen to myself or the inner voice we all have. It is hard to listen to one's inner voice when the mouth is going. Third, I don't listen to the sound of nothingness in meditation when I am doing it. Listening just might be the most important thing I do in my life and it keeps me healthier.

Listening is vitally important to writers for they need to read as much as they need to write everyday. I often say I am like a violinist and need to play everyday or I lose something in my playing. The violinist is also listening to her or his music. The same goes for the writer. You are reading or listening what you are writing. A writer is also reading other writers although some wannabe writers think they can skip this step, they can't. Reading is listening.

It is sitting in a coffee shop sipping one's coffee and listening to the other talk and really listening to what they have to say. I was talking with someone yesterday about reading and how she loves her children reading Harry Potter and Narnia. I asked her about whether she saw any conflict in the two authors and she explained her philosophy of reading. Reading and exploring was more important than any other concern. It was good that I asked and listened instead of explaining my views. I no longer have small children, she did. We were in a second hand book store. She was also talking about the use of electronic books. I have a Sony Reader but have not used it since coming back to the States. She sees the prices of second hand books and sees no need of getting one for herself or kids. I really enjoyed the conversation. I ended up buying some really nice second hand books myself.

Part of being healthy is being part of the human race. Listening to one's fellow human beings is a very important way of connecting and being a part of one's neighborhood. Sometimes, I get tied up with other things and forget this. We all know people who just talk and talk and never listen to what others have to say. It is like listening to a lecture non-stop except one did not sign up for a class especially from the person in question. They go on and on jumping from one subject to another never listening for hints that the other person may know more than they or may find them boring or whatever. You keep sinking deeper and deeper in you seat as you try and hide under the table. It is similar to the religious person trying to convert you to their religion. You really can't stop them. This is not the way, that I can see, of connecting with one's fellow human being. I can also see that they don't know how to connect and it is the only way they can which is sad.

Another healthy way of being, is to listen to one's inner self. Often we don't do that either. We get warnings from the self that a certain situation or person is not right or the decision we are about to make may not be the right one and so on. I am certainly guilty of this too. I turn on the television when I know it is probably not a good idea and then several hours later I am still watching some mindless program and the tasks that I was going to do remains undone. Or I meet someone who wants me to buy something that I know I don't need but that person is so convincing or I meet someone somewhere and the alarm bells go off inside that I might not have my wallet later. That is not a healthy thing to do. We should always listen to our inner selves for in my case I have never been led astray by those warnings.

In meditation, it is important to listen to the silence we try to cultivate so that we can hear the other things that are trying to get through to us. Sometimes, what is trying to get through might be the beauty of a particular spot we happen to be. Sometimes, it is a poem we had just read. Other times, it is a piece of music that is playing in our earphones. Sometimes, it is our spiritual center that is trying to comfort us from the daily living and sorrow that comes to all of us.

Listening is something that I unfortunately give a low priority until I read about it as I did this morning in a Buddhist blog. I was reminded how much I need to put listening in the center of my life if I want to be healthier for I also need to listen to my body as it strains to get healthier. I have lost weight. I have done exercise and am in better shape. I am not where I need to be yet and when one gets there it is not a done deal. Staying in shape is a process, not an arrival place.

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