Listening to Life


Our lives talk to us every day, but without listening we may miss its messages. Busyness, noise, smart phones and computers can dull our senses so we miss what life is trying to tell us. Learning to listen can take time because the guiding messages from within are often gentle and quiet. Parker Palmer said, “The soul speaks its truth only under quiet, inviting and trustworthy conditions.”

Life does not randomly happen. If we listen with awareness, we can usually see there are reasons behind events and emotions. If we are frustrated, angry, or fearful life is giving us a message. If we’re sick, dealing with a broken relationship, or a financial crisis there is a message. These are signs that something is not working and needs our attention. Being content, productive, and peaceful are all messages. Life is a mirror giving us an accurate reflection of our choices, habits and attitudes. It tells us how we’re doing both inside and out.

John Kehoe writes about what he calls “The Sacred Wound.” This is the term he uses for the personal crisis we all have. He suggests a crisis happens because something wants to be noticed, or someone needs to be heard. Whatever form the crisis takes it shakes us to our core, so we examine our belief system and lifestyle. This is what makes a crisis so valuable – it invites us to see if changes are needed. Crisis can precede transformation which is why it is sacred. As an example, I didn’t like my cancer diagnosis but, difficult as that was, I treasure what I learned during that time because it made me more authentic.

When we listen to what is happening in our life moment by moment, we enter a deeper place within us where we can respond with wisdom. This curbs knee jerk reactions which are usually counterproductive. Staying in the moment allows us to be more closely connected to our feelings, which are an important part of listening.

If you’re like me, I need to constantly remind myself to stay in the moment. Here are a few things that help bring me back to the present. I do one thing at a time and focus completely on that activity whether it is combing my hair, driving the car, or listening to someone who’s hurting. Taking several deep breaths is also helpful for calming and refocusing on the moment. Quiet meditation, no matter what time length, gathers scattered thoughts and lays them to rest. When I get quiet and ask for guidance there is always an answer. I also remind myself that every moment is precious, even the difficult ones, so I need to pay attention to them all.

A critical part of listening to our life is learning to trust our intuition. Intuition is part of the creative guidance that comes from our Higher Power. Messages from our intuition may arrive as a profound realization, or a grounded thought from deep within that provides a greater understanding of a subject, person, or life event. There can be physical sensations that go with this. For me a feeling of uneasiness tells me that I need to pay close attention to what is going on. A knot in my stomach is a signal that something is definitely wrong. A thought to quickly change what I’m doing means action is needed now.

Intuition saved my husband’s life. He was in his car on 41st Street turning onto Indian River Boulevard. The light was already green as he approached the intersection, but a thought kept coming to him to slow down and not go into the intersection. He listened, and as he slowed a Cadillac SUV flew through the red light traveling at a high speed. Had Curt driven into the intersection, he would have been T- boned on the driver’s side and killed. Sometimes intuition asks us to defy logical reason. I’m deeply grateful he listened.

Our life is talking to us every minute of every day. Messages come when we’re having a conversation, driving, dealing with a problem at work, viewing art, relaxing with music, preparing a meal, taking a walk or playing with our pets. The list is endless. Honing our listening skills adds to the quality of each moment, because through listening we embark on the journey of identifying our true desires, and discovering who we were created to be. This is how author Fredrick Buechner sums this up, “Listen to your life. See it for the fathomless mystery it is. In the boredom and pain of it no less than in the excitement and gladness: Touch, taste, smell your way to the holy and hidden heart of it because in the last analysis all moments are key moments……listen to your life.”

Until Next Time – Sylvia

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