I used to have a word of the year. The last time I did that was 2013 and my word was “wait.” In the years since, I’ve joked that I’m still waiting for a new word!
As I mentioned in a recent post, this year I want to focus on being a better listener. One of the governing skills in taiji is a Chinese word (pictured above) that means listen, but has a broader meaning than its English equivalent. When we practice with a partner, we “listen” to our partner’s energy not with our ears but through touch, sensing beyond the point of contact to “hear” everything within the partner’s body of energy.
The Chinese character gives us insight into this deep form of listening, not just in taiji practice but in our lives.
When we break the character into its components, we see on the left side 耳 meaning ear, and below that 王 meaning ruler. But remember that in ancient times the ruler was considered the intermediary between heaven and earth, so these two parts together convey a sense of listening in alignment with heaven and earth.
On the right side of the character, we see on top 直 meaning upright, straight, or correct. It’s made up of ten 十 and eyes 目 (this part is turned sideways in the character), suggesting deep vision or inner vision. Below that is 心 meaning heart.
When we put this all together, the richness of meaning emerges. I like to think it means something like “listening in alignment with heaven and earth to the inner wisdom of the heart.”
This kind of listening is deep, holistic listening, activating our body, mind, and spirit. It is listening with our whole selves.
And what will we hear? The song of creation humming in our souls, vibrating us into form from the mystery of Oneness.
Perhaps this is what I’ve been waiting for.
Put your ear down close to your soul and listen hard. ~Anne Sexton