Listening Between the Lines – Part Two: Listening to Self “It Takes A Lot of Slow to Grow”

“It takes a lot of slow to grow”

This quote echoes in my mind as I think about listening to my own inside reflections and ideas. Why would this be necessary? And, how do you listen to yourself?

This is an unusual quest. And a question, or perhaps more so a topic of attention in our world of crazy busy. The need to quiet ourselves in order to ponder, reflect and meditate on what our minds and bodies need is primary: the need to still our frenetic pace so that our true nature, insights and needs might be actualized.

We need to listen to our inner selves, so why is it so hard to put into practice? I have experienced my own bias, which lauds an outward focus of attention rather than an inward focus on self. Many times, the outside world factors louder than my own internal terrain. This provides a rationale for distraction and action and being “busy”.

Going inward requires validating a different kind of energy. One that is slower. Carl Honore’ tells us that: “As human beings we are prone to skimming the surface and being distracted. We actually need that reflection time as an anchor. It’s in those moments of quiet stillness that we find ourselves. In some ways, I think that’s what human life is all about.”

Why would I engage in the luxury of “hearing myself” and delve into the opulence of self-discovery? I see the need for this as I increase my emotional agility, a way of being that is needed to ferry through and honor the emotions of conflict in our ever complex work and world. I may foster a greater depth of self-awareness where I may learn to better trust my own emotions by identifying them, allowing them to move through me. I ponder that this may be a very significant aspect of listening to myself. It invites my body to connect with my mind and if I trust it, it will help me to understand better what I need.

When you are in the space of hearing yourself, there is no attention paid to paraphrasing, to looking at the person to… all of the other aspects of listening skills we are taught to exhibit and employ as ‘good listeners’. It is a felt, and an embodied way of listening. It is, when done as a practice, where you can feel the energy and the calling of forth of your own groundedness and power.

Speaking of practice, let’s draw from the aforementioned learned behaviours as a starting point. To build the practice of listening to self, we can go through the exercises we’ve been taught for listening to others. Writing it down might help, get your thoughts and feelings down on paper and then paraphrase them back to yourself. The idea is to reconnect with your inner self so the activity becomes instinctive. The most important aspect of any relationship is trust, you need to learn to trust yourself.

What is key to take away here is that attending to yourself is possible. It is the hint of quiet on the threshold of hearing your inner voice. It is putting your finger on the pulse of your own rhythms. There is a certain being of listening that arises and comes to the forefront here. It is in keeping your own counsel that a true and deep experience of listening can be felt and understood.

Listening to self creates a cadence of slow. It has the potential to invite growth and learning and propel us towards thriving in small and wonderful ways each day. Yes, “it takes a lot of slow to grow” …

Recommended reading: “Praise of Slow: How a Worldwide Movement is Challenging the Cult of Speed” by Carl Honore

A Lazy Thought, by Eve Merriam

There go the grownups
To the office,
To the store.
Subway rush,
Traffic crush;
Hurry, scurry,
Worry, flurry.

No wonder
Grown ups
Don’t grow up
Any more.
It takes a lot
Of slow
To grow.

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