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I was born this way.” The perfect explanation when someone questions your greatness, quirkiness, belief system, or some facet of your journey here. You were put on the spot, so you need to respond, but there is no point in explaining…unless the other person is listening. And, by listening, I mean, wanting to hear. Can’t you feel when another is not really listening or not interested in your answer? It’s uncomfortable. And, beyond not wishing to trigger that discomfort in another, we wish to avoid shallow life-dulling experiences. To sharpen our life, we must first sharpen our listening skills.

In the afternoon, I listen for sounds from the bedroom…my daughter’s “rah rah rah” baby ramblings and the soft ringing of her rattle as she seemingly signals, “Room Service, Mommy!”  FullSizeRender (1)A reward, I think…or, at least, a pleasant contrast. As a newborn, she would wake me up with a piercing cry…a cry biologically designed to pierce my heart and propel me into quick motion. “You have to let her cry it out,” some would say. Instinctively, I knew better…she had no idea. She believed she was crying for survival. And, her cry told me everything I needed to know. As long as I listened to it…and not to anyone else.

Even now it tells me what I need to know. As I was gathering Desiree from the gym childcare last week, I discovered her sobbing in the childcare lady’s lap. “She just started crying. I think she’s teething.” I listened and said, “Are you sure she is not just hungry?” Handing my daughter her half-drunk bottle on the counter, she instantaneously calmed down with a look of “Thanks, mom. I needed that!” relief.

Listening is intelligence. Building awareness. A tool to strengthen. A secret weapon in a world infiltrated with noise and self-absorption. When we recognize that our outer world brings us clues and guidance, we recognize the importance of listening.

When another speaks, do you catch yourself thinking of something you want to say? It’s natural. It’s also impulsive. Conversations with my mom. We both have lists…mine in my head, hers on a piece of paper. Or something a new acquaintance says reminds you of a personal experience. So you share it. It’s relationship-building to search for common ground. But, it’s dangerous if we don’t keep our propensity to talk in-check and balanced with our willingness to listen.

We have two ears and one mouth and we should use them proportionally.” ~Susan Cain

Last week, I spent a few days in San Francisco. By the morning of the second day, I felt a strange pang of hunger. I wasn’t hungry per se, but my stomach was not satisfied. I listened for the internal guidance…yep, I needed protein. Years of nutritional conditioning. Some call it good genetics. At the time, I called it a little annoying. But, I do agree with the notion of genetics…mind-altering genetics, that is:

Genes are physical memories of an organism’s learned experience.” ~Bruce Lipton

Learned experience becomes bodily wisdom. We have to condition the body so there is wisdom to listen to. Then, we train the mind to listen to the body. Close the loop. Oh, and, when traveling, pack some protein in the baby’s cooler!

Cue this week’s Top 10 audibles…

1. Listen to the wholeness of the orchestra…or the person standing in front of you.

The music is not in the notes, but in the silence between.” ~Mozart

2. Listen as you become one with the situation. Right action always emerges from that space.

Satori is a moment of Presence, a brief stepping out of the voice in your head, the thought processes, and their reflection in the body as emotion.” ~Eckhart Tolle

3. Listen to your self-talk. Do you have a “sad story” you keep repeating? What are you creating with it? Does realizing this inspire you to speak differently? Lose the story and gain a life!

4. Listen with alertness, stillness, and presence. Be there for another’s benefit and watch what opens up in your world, in your body, in your heart.

5. Listen to your higher self and cut off your ego. How do you know “which one” is talking? Easy. The higher self is the voice that is always patiently encouraging…always in your corner…yes, listen to that one. Hint: you might need to meditate and eliminate the noise to hear her.

6. Listen for the beat, the chorus, the crescendo. Life is better when you move to a beat…obviously. Have you ever danced?! We develop our ear when we listen for the nuances in the music. It helps us recognize and soar with the crescendos in our own lives.

7. Listen to the traffic…the background noise…the wind…the rainfall…the birds. Notice how your obsessive thoughts about past or future melt away when you anchor to the simplicity and beauty of the present.

8. Listen for messages urging you here, guiding you there.

They can come from the lips of a stranger we suddenly and mysteriously encounter at just the right instant. If we listen carefully, we always hear the right words, at the right time, to dazzle us into a realization of something that we may have failed to notice only moments before.” ~Gregg Braden

9. Listen during moments of personal turmoil or crisis.

Underneath all that we are taught, there is a voice that calls to us beyond what is reasonable, and in listening to that flicker of spirit, we often find deep healing.”~Mark Nepo

10. Listen to your soul…it is whispering something to you…right now.

Listening is more art than science. And, at times, the goal isn’t to get the perfect play, it’s to get out of a bad play…right, Peyton Manning?

Just Snap The Damn Ball Colts

Do you want to explore LISTEN further? Click here for quotes, mantras and our willPower dedicated weekly exercise!

Sarah Ingmanson

Sarah Ingmanson

Sarah is a studio owner, fitness instructor and competitor. She is a former investment banker and equity research analyst with her MBA from the Wharton School and her MA in International Affairs from the Lauder Institute of the University of Pennsylvania. Sarah is fluent in Japanese and consults with Japanese companies on corporate governance, finance, and investor relations. Sarah's interest in Japan stemmed from her first tour with Disney On Ice as a professional figure skater. For more info on Sarah and her studio, visit www.starslocker.com.

4 Comments

  1. Alison Beadle
    Alison Beadle
    Wednesday, March 11th, 2015 at 6:40 am ·

    I this blog! Especially your 10 ways to work with the word. Ironically I had upset stomach the night before my class and although eating that day I decided to listen to my body and rest. I got cover and feel great again now!

  2. Sarah Ingmanson
    Sarah Ingmanson
    Wednesday, March 11th, 2015 at 7:50 am ·

    Thanks, Allison! Glad you “listened” to your body…and glad you feel better! To be an effective fitness leader, there is a responsibility…an opportunity… to role model self-loving fit behavior. xo

  3. Mu Yun Grace Ker
    Friday, March 13th, 2015 at 10:07 am ·

    This is very, very helpful and most insightful. I was in conversation with one of my ladies from class the other day, and during the conversation, I realised something. I realised that it was true, that genetically, I was not gifted at all. I could never run fast, not even now as a fitness professional; I was never good at sports and games and could never throw or catch; I don’t have any exceptional flexibility naturally and all that I have I have had to work and work and work some more. “But… how did you get to become the way you are now then??” This lady asked with much surprise. I really thought about it, and the only thing that I could tell her, was that “I listened very hard. I always listened very hard to all the instructions, and I made sure that corrections were made following the instructions. A split with ease is a result of listening hard and following great, clear instructions. Everything that I am able to do now and to instruct now, everything that I am to myself and to my friends and loved ones, is all as a result of having listened very carefully, very hard and very closely to instructions, or simply just listening. Thank you so much.

  4. Sarah Ingmanson
    Sarah Ingmanson
    Friday, March 13th, 2015 at 3:18 pm ·

    Mu Yun, insightful. Where there is a will, there is a way. Listening becomes an ally and a source of strength…as you so brilliantly point out. Thank you for sharing this.