It was the same thing every night. I’d get into bed, start drifting off to sleep…then the toilet would start running. It would fill for about 5 seconds then quiet down for an indeterminate amount of time. In the morning I’d forget about the toilet only to be reminded again the next evening as I lay in bed.
In a half sleep state I’d try to remind myself to call the plumber in the morning so he could figure out the problem. One evening, lying in bed and listening, I relaxed and focused on the sound. The sound was intermittent rather than a steady stream so it was clear that the toilet basin was somehow loosing small amounts of water, bit by bit. I wondered what could be causing this small, consistent leakage? Lying in bed imagining the insides of the toilet and mentally peering into the water I looked all the way down to the flapper that lifts each time the toilet is flushed. Perhaps there’s a faulty toilet flapper? This, as it turned out, was the problem. I didn’t need to pay a plumber after all. All l needed to do was go down to the hardware store, buy a new flapper and install it.
I try to remember to listen this same way when something is amiss in my body. At first all I feel is undifferentiated pain and an urge to get away from the pain. But, if I resist the initial impulse to pull away from the pain, a space opens up. Into that space I can ask, where is this pain coming from? Which systems are involved? Muscular? Circulatory? Keeping the area and quality of the pain in mind I mentally scan the various bodily systems. Eventually the source of the pain is discovered and, as was the case with the toilet flapper, I can then work on remedying the problem.
The simple art of sitting and listening is one of our most powerful and underused human abilities. Watching and listening is the first step towards healing, the first step towards creativity and the first step towards learning something new. Listening is an art, and, as an art, it can be developed with discipline and practice. As is the case with other art forms, there is no end to the wonders that unfold as the practice deepens. The skill is useful for everything from fixing a household problem to pursuing the question, what is life?
Meditation is another word for listening. It’s about listening to our own unique functioning and environment in the moment. If you learn to meditate you have an ally for life. You can carry this ally into your home, family, friendships, confinement, car, and temple. To make full use of this art requires the same discipline as any other art form. It requires our time and attention.
Having listening become part of our life is simple, but not easy. It can be learned in an afternoon but maintaining the practice, especially when we don’t have a group of people to meditate with, can be quite challenging. One of the main purposes of Hearth is to support this practice at home. To that end, we are offering a 6 week New Year’s meditation refresher. In this time together we will offer support and a place to talk about your challenges and triumphs as you slowly and gently move your listening practice into your home and life. Please come join us in community as we support one another’s awakening into everyday life. For questions and interest contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Wishing you all the joy and wonder awareness can bring in this fresh, new year,