At a time of the year when there is much activity and noise in day-to-day life, the Spokane Yasodhara Yoga Teachers – Swami Yasodananda, Lakshmi, Parvati, Faith Hayflich, Janus Thorne, Sheila Thomsen, Gayle Swagerty, and Amanda Geroux offer a thoughtful guide to listening – a path to the still small voice within, to the knowing of the heart.
- Observe the Act of Listening and What is Heard
…it is advisable to proceed to listening to nature, the wind, birds in the trees, the sounds of the city in the daytime or at night.
(Kundalini Yoga for the West, Swami Radha, p. 240)
- Every day, over the course of a period of time, say two weeks, stop whatever you’re doing and listen to the sounds around you for a few minutes. Do this multiple times during your day.
- At the end of the time period you’ve set, observe what you notice about the act of listening.
- Do you screen out what you do not want to hear?
- What do you ‘claim’ to hear?
- What is your awareness level of the sounds around you?
- The Body as Listener
A) Asanas are a silent manner of speech and the cells in the body, each with its own consciousness, are the listeners. The body is very teachable and can become a spiritual tool.
(Kundalini Yoga for the West, Swami Radha, p. 234)
- Choose an asana and slowly warm up, using breath, stretching and relaxing. Go into the asana and allow it to speak. What is heard at the cellular level? What do you observe, feel, hear?
- Choose another asana and notice what you can hear at the deepest level.
B) What is the relationship for you between listening and feeling? How does this affect your Hatha practice?
- Do a pose that you don’t do very often or that you don’t like. What do you feel? What do you hear?
- When Listening is Difficult
Listening is very difficult for most of us. But there are circumstances in which listening is more appropriate than action…
When you can’t listen because your emotions are running high and stilling the mind is almost impossible, pranayama is the only solution.
(Time to Be Holy, Swami Radha, p. 56)
- Use tools to calm the emotions and still the mind in order to listen to the ‘still, small voice’ within:
- To slow the breath, do the 4-16-8 breath (inhale to the count of 4, hold the breath to the count of 16, exhale to the count of 8).
- To express emotions in the sound of your own voice and breath, chant for 20 minutes.
- Do the Divine Light Invocation ‘to give yourself proper identification.’
- Now do the Pinpoint of Light visualization. (Living the Practice, Swami Radhananda, pp157-158)
- Each of the practices above will assist in calming the emotions, increasing your level of concentration, and in stilling the mind….so that you can heart that ‘still, small voice within yourself. That will give you the right answer.’ (Time to Be Holy, p 57)
- Reflect after each practice. Notice the state of your emotions and mind with each practice.
- How does your ability to hear – to listen to – the ‘still, small voice within’ evolve with each practice?
- Listening and Mantra
Chant the mantra with dedication, love and the desire to connect with the Divine. Sense the power of your voice and try to discover where the sound is coming from, who is chanting, where the words go and what is created in your mind and in the space around you. Through mantra practice you train your mind and refine your speech.
(Living the Practice, Swami Radhananda, p. 187)
- Chant a mantra of your choice. Listen to yourself chanting. Reflect on Swami Radhananda’s questions:
- Sense the power of your voice and try to discover where the sound is coming from.
- Who is chanting?
- Where do the words go?
- What is created in your mind and in the space around you?
- How does chanting the mantra impact your awareness of what you think and say? What do you notice about your responsibility for what you say – audibly and inaudibly?
- Describe your connection to the Divine following your mantra practice.
- Listening With The Heart
You have to listen with the heart, not with the mind.
(Time to Be Holy, Swami Radha, p. 162)
- Do a Divine Light Invocation. Place an image or symbol of the ‘listening heart’ in the Light. Write your observations.
- Sit in Lotus pose or another pose of your choice. Focusing on your heart center, ask:
- How does the heart listen? What does this feel like?
- How does it differ from listening with the mind?
- How do your choices change when you listen with the heart versus the mind?
- Listening Within
Listening is an art. To hear the true message through all the veils demands a very skillful listener who can extract from the words what the speaker truly says. How much more sensitivity, then, is required to hear the still small voice within.
(Kundalini Yoga for the West, Swami Radha, p. 232)
- Lie in Savasana/Corpse pose and completely relax the body.
- As your body moves deeper into a relaxed state, notice the states/aspects of the mind that are being surrendered.
- Which ‘veils’ fall away?
- In this state of deep relaxation, notice how your ability to listen has deepened. Can you still the mind and surrender to what is heard?
- In Savasana/Corpse pose when there is no reaction and complete surrender to what is, what message do you receive from the still small voice within?
- Listening By Bringing Silence Into Your Mind
A) Silence allows you to watch your mind and become aware of the thoughts that you may be acting on unconsciously.
(Living the Practice, Swami Radhananda, p. 70)
- Identify a persistent thought around situations, events or circumstances you are currently experiencing.
- Do a Divine Light Invocation and put this thought into the Light. Write your experience.
- Come into the Mountain Pose. Through the physical stillness of the Mountain pose – standing on your own two feet; alone in the Mountain – prepare to enter the stillness of your mind as well.
- Can you see the thought/s that you are acting on unconsciously?
- Ask yourself: Am I acting on emotional thoughts? Do I want to continue to act on them?
- What are your thoughts now? What conscious choices can you make to change your mind?
B) Enter silence by bringing it into your mind with sacred sounds. Chant A-U-M, slowly, audibly, then less and less audibly as feeling deepens into this silent harmony.
(Time to Be Holy, Swami Radha, p. 290)
- In chanting A-U-M, A is sounded just below or around the navel, U is at your sternum, and M is in the throat. In this way, you are instructed to leave your emotions in the area of the navel and your self-will in the area of the throat. You are then in your heart. Control of the emotions will give you control of your self-will so that you may put as much as you can into your heart.
- Chant A-U-M and then reflect. What have you put into your heart?
- What is your experience of listening now?