Galen Pearl

Galen Pearl

Listening with Our Whole Self

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

10 thoughts on “Listening with Our Whole Self”

  1. Beautiful! This feels like the great deficit of Western capitalistic culture that is based on promotion and persuasion.

    1. Thank you, Brian. That is an interesting observation. If this reveals a deficit in Western capitalistic culture, perhaps that highlights the imbalance we have created by an overemphasis on active, productive “yang” energy, at the expense of the still, receptive “yin” energy. It ends up depleting all our resources, inner and environmental, because it is untenable to sustain that singular focus on externally directed effort. We are exhausting ourselves and our planet. I appreciate your comment.

  2. “And what will we hear? The song of creation humming in our souls, vibrating us into form from the mystery of Oneness.”

    So beautiful!

    To think we Westerners, children of the Spirit, weighted down by centuries of societal/cultural junk, imbalance and illusion, are now finding Light — a “humming of our souls” — “vibrating us” into ever greater authenticity 🙃.

    1. Thanks, BKT. I know what you mean– so much junk we have carried around for so long. It’s a new year — a good time to release all that encumbers our free movement in harmony with the music of creation. Wishing you and yours a happy new year.

  3. Hi Galen! I continue to believe that my WOTY of surrender is asking me to listen in that deep way that asks me to listen ” in alignment with heaven and earth to the inner wisdom of the heart.” My heart. If I do nothing more this year than deepen that a bit every single day it will be a good year. Thank you. ~Kathy

    1. That will be a good year indeed. I love the word surrender as a spiritual yielding. One of my favorite words! It will serve you well this year, I’m sure. Thank you, Kathy.

  4. This is what the world needs now. But I fear it has forgotten this listening with the whole self… this listening of the soul. I often wonder where that deafness will eventually take us? Thank you Galen. Beautifully suggested and written as always x

    1. Thank you Jean. I think we already have glimpses of where this will take us. Eventually we will all listen. The question is how much suffering will we endure before we surrender all the ways that will not work.

  5. Conveyance Doctor

    Thank you for the gift: “The song of creation humming in our souls…” Your wave length melded with mine…this year I, too, am focusing on Christology, Creation, Oneness, Non-duality. This message of yours…wow! Your “waiting” Word Year runs parallel with my breathing mantra for this year: Breathe in: WAIT Breathe our: REJOICE. Your message about listening has reminded me to listen then wait (before speaking) and then rejoice that we communicated unencumbered by my toolbox of “helpful”replies. Make sense? Happy New Year, Galen!

    1. Happy New Year to you too, CD! Glad this post “resonated” with you. I like your breathing mantra and how you apply it to listening. Makes perfect sense. Always good to hear from you.

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