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Posts tagged ‘communication’

Listen: Become Available

Become Available

My smartphone chimed, indicating a new text message. I read four words, “How was your day?” Pausing, the simple sentence evoked a multitude of emotions, sensations, and thoughts. I stood still, surprised. Primary was the realization that it has been a very long time since I’d been the recipient of this gentle question, a genuine invitation to reflect and share, four simple words conveying interest and care.

Our conversations and communication with each other are often functional, relaying data and details: I’ll meet you at …., When is …?, I need …., How about …?, Where is …?, and so forth. The text, How was your day? queried me, posed a reflective question, evoked my response, and began a mutual conversation and exchange that held potential to grow intimacy and friendship. When we communicate and interact with each other, a flow of energy and presence brings forth expansion or contraction.

I had a choice in my response to that text message—I could share about the productivity or pleasures of the day, or my concerns and fatigue, or a dozen other details. My desire was to be utterly available to my best self, and to the person asking the question. To become available means to be able to avail ourselves on behalf of someone, or something. It is a choice that involves intention, willpower, and decision. Sometimes to be available involves risk and takes courage. Being available generates connection and ultimately involves both giving and receiving.

In the beginning of Aleph, a provocative new novel by author Paulo Coelho, the main character prepares to make a journey, and visits a chapel. Coelho writes, “There I asked Our Lady to guide me with her love and help me identify the signs that will lead me back to myself. I know that I am in all the people surrounding me, and that they are in me. Together we write the Book of Life, our every encounter determined by fate and our hands joined in the belief that we can make a difference in this world. Everyone contributes a word, a sentence, an image, but in the end it all makes sense: the happiness of one becomes the joy of all” (21).

When we pause, on behalf of our own soul stirrings, on behalf of another person, or when stirred by empathy, compassion, or injustice, we evoke the inner spaciousness to become available. To be available allows healing, wholeness, connection, and joy to birth in the cosmos. I imagine a world where every day we make the time to pause and ask, How was your day? or How are you? to someone dear to us, or to a complete stranger. And then show up, and listen.

A spiritual companion might ask these kinds of questions during spiritual direction, opening a pathway of conversation, and allowing a listening presence to flow within and between both the listener and the speaker. When asked with sincerity, these genuine, evocative questions heal, and lead each of us to our authentic self, mystery, and ultimately write the book of our life.

— Pegge Erkeneff

Reprinted from Listen: A Seeker’s Resource for Spiritual Direction, 6.4 page 1 (Spiritual Directors International © 2012). Reprinted with permission of Spiritual Directors International. To order copies or a subscription of Listen, call 1-425-455-1565 or go to http://www.sdiworld.org.

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Cultivate Spiritual Awareness

Cultivate Spiritual Awareness

Mentors teach and guide us. I know this to be true: when the student is ready, the teacher will come. Perhaps you do too. Who are the important people who have arrived in your life at distinctive times and places? At this time—are you seeking to learn, know, or experience something specific that you can identify and name? Do you wrestle with an inner restlessness that may want to reveal something to you about your life, work, a relationship, action of service, creative endeavor, or spiritual inquiry? Have you experienced a person approaching you for mentoring or guidance?

A mentor can be a valuable person who illuminates life lessons and insights. Mentors appear in many forms, and often surprise or challenge us. Jalāl ad-Dīn Muḥammad Rūmī, a thirteenth century Persian Muslim poet, theologian, and Sufi mystic wrote, “The breeze at dawn has secrets to tell you; Don’t go back to sleep. You must ask for what you really want; Don’t go back to sleep. People are going back and forth across the doorsill where the two worlds touch. The door is round and open. Don’t go back to sleep.”

Central to our human existence and evolution is the capacity to listen. In order to listen deeply, many find it helpful to make  a commitment to a spiritual practice. A spiritual practice allows us to participate in dynamic stillness—a moment of strength when we think we cannot go on, a rootedness in the present moment. A regular spiritual practice develops the necessary courage and resiliency to reconcile dissonance and polarity.

When we cultivate and grow peace in our hearts, learn with our bodies and minds, and contribute to our families and communities, an opportunity presents itself: live with integrity and awareness. Every day we have the choice to up-level our communication with others—and our own inner dialogue—agreeing to align and interact with the best parts of ourselves, not the weakest. We can make a promise to be truth-tellers. When our actions generate from this center, we often discover a teacher or mentor arrives to help us grow in ways we may currently name and desire, or perhaps only intuit. When we wake up, tell the truth, and are faithful to our spiritual practice, unforeseen possibility and potential shows up!

Mentors and spiritual guides assist us along the way, until one day, our fidelity to a spiritual practice and listening deeply creates an awareness that that we have become the mentors, examples, and witnesses to a life of authentic engagement and flow, where the breeze at dawn or dusk whispers secrets to our awakened life.

Reflect
Stop everything you are doing, be still. Ask yourself, and then ponder:

  • Who are my mentors?
  • How am I a mentor or witness to others?
  • What is it I truly desire in my life?
  • Dare I believe in possibility?
  • Am I ready to sort things in—and out—to create the time and space for my deepest calling, and heart desires?
  • How might a spiritual director or guide accompany me in my journey?

–Pegge Erkeneff

Excerpted from Listen: A Seekers Guide to Spiritual Direction, July 2012, vol. 6.3, published by Spiritual Directors International, http://www.sdiworld.org.