You Can’t Hear Your Heart if The Radio Is Always On (How to Make Outer Quiet to Support Inner Quiet)

One simple step toward knowing our hearts is to turn down the volume outside.

This is why people join monastaries, go on retreat, and live in caves.  They want to cut out the compelling distractions enough to let their hearts speak in the silence where they can listen.

We don’t necesarily have the luxury of being able to live in a cave. And we have the added challenge of not just a radio in the background, but the internet, TV, cell phone, and many other beeping, talking, interactive gadgets all around us.  And I’m not even including all the people we are interacting with in person on a daily basis.

Here are Some Simple (Potentially Totally Challenging) Steps You Can Take To Turn Down The Volume

1. Turn every beeping, talking gadget off before you go to bed and don’t turn them on in the morning until you have had some time to soak up the quiet.

2. Right smack in the middle of the busy day, turn everything off and take a break.  Take a nap. Make yourself a cup of tea and sit alone. Take a walk. Do Yoga.  Make Art. Do YOUR thing, and let the quiet in.

3. Get radical and take a whole day off a week. No distractions. Just you and your heart. (I told some friends I was doing this and it inspired them to start to have a family day. A day just for the family to be together. No play dates. No internet. Quality time to cultivate their connection).

4. Figure out what works for you and then honor it. This is a gift to yourself, to the part of you that is aching to live more fully in this world, to know your own heart, to open your senses to life.

Here Are Some Excuses For Why You Can’t Do This

  • My job compels me to have my cell phone on at all times and to check my email every ten minutes.
  • What if my kids need me and can’t get in touch? I have to be available.
  • I’m too busy to take a break in the middle of the day and I could never take a whole day off, I’m not keeping up with everything as it is.

Here Is The Real Reason Most of us Don’t Turn The Volume Down: We Are Scared

We Are Scared to be Quiet

I know it seems funny to think that turning off the radio (or all the other things) would take bravery but it does.  I was so addicted to listening to the news at a certain point in my life that I would go into withdrawel without it.  Without the distraction, uncomfortable feelings would rise immediately to the surface. Ultimately I had to decide I was more interested in listening to this discomfort than in avoiding it. And I had to recognise that my number one reason for listening to the news was not for the news but was for the distraction. And I had to be gentle with myself as I figured this out.

We Are Scared of What Other People Will Think

When I started making myself totally unavailable one day a week it annoyed people.  Not everyone, some people thought it was brilliant and were jealous or started doing it themselves.  But others felt frustrated that I wasn’t available–I’d always been available!  I was no longer who they thought I was. And they were right. I was becoming myself instead and honoring my true needs instead of my ideas (or other people’s ideas) about myself.

We Are Scared People Won’t Even Notice

As I started exploring different ways to get quiet and heed the inner call of my heart,

my first concern was that people couldn’t live without me and my second concern was that they could.

And guess what I discovered, my fear was realized, people could live just fine without me.  The world didn’t suddenly stop or go crazy without my constant involvement. It carried on just fine with all its ups and downs with me squarely on the sidelines.

After I got through the loneliness of this, I realized the great joy of it.

I could take care of myself instead of thinking it was my job to take care of everything else. Everything else would be fine, and maybe even supported by the fact that one little human creature on the planet was listening to her heart.

We all have our particular circumstances and particular challenges to finding and honoring the quiet in our lives.

The dominant culture not only doesn’t support this movement, it completely doesn’t get it. You will receive blank stares from vast swathes of humanity if you try to explain.  But if this is important to you, if you really want to live with your heart and honor the life within, you will discover a way.

When you make the commitment the way opens up.

Because this isn’t just about you listening, this is about everything listening.

Girlfriend, Take Your Own Medicine!

Okay, time for confessions. I wrote this post a few months ago and realized it was time to post it because it is advice I sorely need right now. I’ve been plugged in for weeks. I’ve been crazy busy with projects and people. I’ve discovered become addicted to twitter. My poor on the brink nervous system is twitching. So in honor of walking the walk I’m turning down the noise for the next week.

I’m taking a break, taking care of myself, taking in the quiet, hanging out with my family.

Be a good steward of your gifts. Protect your time. Feed your inner life. Avoid too much noise. Read good books, have good sentences in your ears. Be by yourself as often as you can. Walk. Take the phone off the hook. Work regular hours.
—Jane Kenyon

And finally, I want to one last time thank all the contributors to the Love Sparks Blogging Festival. What a gorgeous celebration of love. All the posts are still there for you to soak up and read on the Festival homepage.

Photo from the photostream of Leon Hart.

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