There is a big difference between hearing and listening.
This week's prompt is to listen.
I'll let you choose your adventure a little in what you listen to this week, but here are a few suggestions of where it may lead you.
Listen to Music
Last night I saw an amazing report on a local news program on the developer of a new app Vera - a music app designed to help people with dementia.
The report told the story of one woman with advanced dementia and showed the transformation that simply listening to a meaningful song had upon her.
It was quite moving to watch the change - from emotionless/expressionless to joyful and sedentary to dancing.
In my journey with depression and anxiety over the past few years, I've also noticed the power of music to improve my mood and reduce agitation and anxiety.
Maybe this week's prompt could be to spend some time each day intentionally listening to different pieces of meaningful music to you. Perhaps try different types of music and see what impact they have.
Listen in Conversation
“Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” - Stephen Covey
I'm not sure about you, but if I let that quote sink in, I hear it ring true with me - both as someone who at times has felt I've not been listened to and guilty of not truly listening.
Truly listening in conversation is something that takes work. It's a skill that needs to be practised and cultivated.
I am not an expert in it, but I'm reminded of some training I received many years ago when I worked as a marriage celebrant and did pre-marriage counselling for young couples.
A lot of it was about helping couples to become better at 'active listening'.
- Eye contact - shows that you're listening
- Listen with your eyes - for non-verbal cues and emotions
- Refrain from interruption
- Defer judgement
- Don't think about what you'll say when the other person talks
- Ask pertinent questions
- Give feedback and ask for clarification
Perhaps the prompt this week will be to set aside some time for conversation and listening with someone in your life who perhaps you've been guilty of not truly listening to.
Listen and Learn
Perhaps this week, you want to spend some time listening with an empathetic ear on a broader level than just listening to one person.
There might be a few ways you could do this.
Perhaps you could choose an issue that you want to learn more about.
For example, you might choose climate change, gun control, or child labour and spend the week reading, listening to podcasts, watching videos, etc., to listen and learn about the topic.
Try to choose something you either don't know much about or enter into it intentionally to understand the other side of an issue you may hold a preexisting opinion on.
People group based
Or perhaps you could choose a people group that you want to listen to.
For example, a couple of weeks ago, it was NAIDOC Week here in Australia. This week celebrates the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
Each day during the week, I tried to find something new to read or listen to from one of our indigenous people.
You might choose an indigenous population or perhaps some other type of people groups like asylum seekers, people of Ukraine, or people of a different ethnic group.
The key to this is to try to listen with empathy - to learn about and understand the situation of another group.
Listen to the Whispers that Keep You on Track
The world we live in is a noisy and often busy place.
We're bombarded with all kinds of messaging, and it can quite often drown out the quiet little (but important) voice that comes from within that keeps us on track.
Some people may call that little voice our intuition, or perhaps conscience, our spirit; others might even say it's the whisper of God.
Either way - if we don't create time to block out the noise, it can be hard to tune into the whispers of what really matters.
A few weeks ago, our prompt was to 'be still', and I had quite a few people message me to say that they found it both incredibly hard and very beneficial.
Perhaps this week's prompt is to create space to be still and listen.
Listen to your body. Listen to what it whispers to you.
Listen to your intuition - hear what it's saying to you.
Listen to your spirit - allow it to communicate with you.
Listen to your higher power - allow them to guide you.
Listen to the Noise
This one may seem a little counterintuitive after I've just talked about blocking out the noise but as I was writing the last section, it struck me that perhaps there's also some value in listening to the noise - with a critical ear.
As I mentioned - we live in a noisy world.
We're bombarded with messages from media, social media, in conversation, from our family and friends, in the workplace, and in our homes.
Perhaps this week's prompt is to lean into what you hear with a critical ear to see what in the bombardment is important (and what isn't).
Are there messages that are not getting through that you need to hear?
- is there an opportunity that you're missing?
- is there a need that you're not seeing?
- is there a pattern in the messages that you need to observe?
Are there messages that we're paying too much attention to?
- are there messages that are distracting you from what matters?
- are there messages that are hurting your self-esteem/worth?
- are there messages that are lies that are shaping your thinking?
Perhaps the prompt this week is to listen to the noise. To turn off what doesn't matter and to lean into what does.
PS: as I was writing this section, I noticed that I picked up my phone 4 times as I received notifications. All four were things that were not important and distractions.
I turned off notifications for those apps - perhaps a notification audit is a good place to start this week for me!
How are You Travelling with These Prompts?
This week is prompt 13 - we're officially a quarter of the way through the year of prompts, and I'd love to hear how you're going with them.
- Which prompt/s have you found most useful?
- Which were the hardest?
- Do you like the longer or shorter ones better?
- Is there anything you'd like me to hear as I move into the coming weeks?
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