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Between an earthquake and a hummingbird: listening to ourselves

Below, please enjoy a rough transcription from the inquiry and meditation this morning on the Unscheduled/unwinding retreat. Also, just a brief reminder that we begin the 3-month online retreat in March...registration is this week. Check the events page for details.

In the meditation today, day 3, we explored listening for our own inner instructions...listening for a voice that: "would be somewhere between an earthquake and hummingbird, or something like that. Gentle but uncompromising. That we’re in this life, we don't know for how long, and something is possible here, that is slippery. We can't quite put a finger on it. We can miss it. We can go for it. We can sink into it. We can allow it." Please be comfortable if possible.

What we want to have more is kind of like a softer earth in ourselves that we can investigate in more easily. We might usually arrive at a retreat and then kind of fit ourselves into a block of who we think we’re supposed to be, or how we think it should be, and then we disconnect from feeling internally what's good for us.

Feeling what's good for us is not exactly the same as doing whatever we feel like doing in any particular moment, of course. But sometimes it is. So feeling: what are your edges?

Just yesterday someone mentioned that they were going to go get themselves a coffee—and that specter came up, a ghost, of feeling that I would judge her for that. And so they played with that. On the other hand, if we did every little thing that came to our mind, we might not even realize that we’re not following our deeper heart.

So we can come out from under the shadow of should and some kind of outside authority, but give authority to the deepest place that we have access to. The deepest the widest, whatever word: sweetest, most joyful. What word maybe works for you? Where is the good place to gravitate your authority? The deepest place, or is it the widest, the sweetest, the simplest, the more common-sense? Whatever works for you as a practice phase…it might be a practice phase of a few moments, a few days, a few weeks, or years.

And if possible, hearing your own instructions from that deepest, ripest, sweetest, most playful, or most innocent place. Whatever word or quality speaks to you. And the speaking would be somewhere between an earthquake and hummingbird, or something like that. Gentle but uncompromising. That we’re in this life, we don't know for how long, and something is possible here, that is slippery. We can't quite put a finger on it. We can miss it. We can go for it. We can sink into it. We can allow it.

So I'm asking you again maybe to have a few minutes that’s more kind of reflection or inquiry into what sort of speaks to you. What is the quality of calling, the quality that calls for your listening? If you're trying to feel what would be an appropriate way of practicing now, where to drink instructions from, in yourself? Where to feel if you resonate with what I say?

And it could be that we have a lifelong tendency to listen to what sounds more serious or what sounds more exciting or whatever, but then really daring or having the courage to listen to that quietest voice or most playful spring.

Or maybe we know that for us these days it's really about doing less and less. Or we know that it's about starting off with the real firm, simple, direct practice—lower belly, out-breath, that's all.

Letting your practice craft itself. Letting it take shape according to what you now know of yourself. Maybe getting a sense of how or what have you tended to avoid—that quality, that is alive and enlivening.

And letting some instruction—or guidance, direction, tug or tendency, leaning—come forth and be felt. "If I really trusted myself, and let myself feel both an overview of my lifetime, and a simple sensitive sensing of this intimate moment, then what?"

As with listening to another person, sometimes there might be long pauses.

And if it could be as if we’re with a really good friend where the long pauses were good and full and important—just as intimate as any words, if not more.

As we listen for our own instructions inside, letting there be pauses. If there are pauses, maybe listening with ease. As when we listen to another person, we’re not really listening if we’re kind of feeling pressure to get somewhere or get them to have an insight, or whatever. Just listening with ease and wonder. Wonder about how, wow, sometimes our mind just kind of slips into an alignment and things are simple and clear, or good enough for a next step.

Just listening could be a way to be with the rest of this meditation.

Or, if you wish, meanwhile, while listening inwardly, perhaps allowing a sense of sipping long breaths… happening as if the breath is going through long generous straws. We could drink the breath in and out almost as if we have long, slender, generous, straws on each side of the spine, each side of the backbone. Letting the body and letting our mind enjoy, like a long, slow drinking of the breath and releasing of the breath. Maybe also like the breath drinking itself, in and out. As if the breath enjoys arriving in and being absorbed—as molecules but also as energy, life force, freshness. And as if the breath enjoys flowing out and arriving into the air outside of us. Arriving inwardly and arriving outwardly.

As if we could feel the body happy to receive the breath and happy to release the breath. The goodness of both receiving, and giving or releasing.

Perhaps we may feel sometimes more than one direction happening with an in-breath as well as with an out-breath. There might be a feeling with the in-breath, for example, sipping or drinking the breath in as if through long, slender straws… that we can feel the energy coming in and down as if arriving in the lower abdomen and lower back and pelvic bowl, and at the same time the body filling up.

With the out-breath, there might be a feeling of the breath, the air, traveling up and out, and at the same time, there could be a feeling as if energy kind of sliding down. We can feel filling up and air arriving down or freshness arriving down, with an in-breath, And a traveling up and out with the out-breath, but also in of releasing down with the out-breath.

Just being open to the different directions with each phase of our breathing. Enjoying both that simplicity, and that not-simplistic sensitivity that we have.

Perhaps not so much thinking about it, but enjoying the gentle kind of orchestration of movement, the massage. And sometimes there might be a sense of more of the breath going on on the left or the right side of the body. And enjoying that as well, that dimension and sensitivity, if it appears, if that happens.

But mostly resting into these living movements—living and enlivening, gentle movements, if you wish, as company for listening inwardly. Something like being in a boat or a train, or some kind of movement with rhythm. Where the rhythm might help be more open and deep in our listening.

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