Monday, January 11, 2010

Stillness and Listening

I have noticed two themes coming up in my life of late.  Do you ever get that strange feeling of coincidence when over a short period of time, usually a few days or within a month you hear something that you never heard or considered prior?  For instance, once upon a time in 2005 Jeff and I watched three movies in a row with Rachel McAdams whom prior to those movies we had never laid eyes on her.  (Mean Girls, The Notebook, Wedding Crashers)

Well, over the past couple of weeks after the craziness of the holidays has passed and the stillness of cold, brutal January has set in I have been 'hearing' two themes crop up.

  1. I read Pillars of the Earth and Eat, Pray, Love both which talk about being still.
  2. Just read a blog where she mentions having problems sitting still. 
  3. Jeff's family had a conversation about the men in the family being a little more relaxed and laid back while the women felt compelled to clean, straighten and do chores.
  4. I have also noticed that Trucker paces. From one window to the next he paces. He looks for squirrels and dogs and then he will find a toy and chew on it for a moment then get up and drop it and then find another toy, then get a drink and on and on. I truly believe this pacing is because he hasn't had time to settle yet. He actually is a very calm dog and given time (months perhaps) he will settle in to the routine of our family and will stop this inane pacing that makes his new owner want to give him a tranquilizer.
Listening instead of talking 
  1. Eat, Pray, Love talks about the difference between meditating and praying is the difference between listening and talking to God. 
  2. I take a parenting class once a month and today we talked about not engaging in the chatter of your children when they are trying to talk their way out of trouble.  That I could even give them a sign or signal instead of preaching or getting up on my soap box.  I would hold up a hand and they would know they have to go to time out - don't laugh it could work!   
I have always considered myself a relatively calm and quiet person.  I am not restless by nature.  Most of my hobbies require me to either sit still or move sparingly.  I like to read a lot, definitely my first love.  I like to write, although sometimes this seems more like work than a hobby.  I like to garden, which requires patience and waiting and watching more than actual doing. 

But actually over the past year, as the kids have become easier and more mobile and also more self entertained I have added more things to the calendar and the chore list.  I have always thought that I could do it all, even after giving up working I still feel like I am "doing" it all or going to figure out how to do it all.  I will have a shiny house (or at least shiny to my standards), my kids will have the opportunity to play with friends, go to school and be involved in  some special activities, I will be able to still have leisure time and alone time with Jeff, my family will have dinner in the evenings together which I prepare, I will have time for friends and family to enrich my life, I will find time to take care of my body by working out and getting the rest I need, and last but hopefully not least I will have time for God.  In doing all of these wonderfully respectful activities, any of which would be difficult to completely let go of I become a crazy, up tight, stressed out, can't sit still for a moment lunatic.

But when my children look at me, when my husband and my God look at me, when my dog looks at me what do they see?  Do they see pacing?  Am I constantly pacing from one chore to the next?  I need to find stillness, without entertainment.  Stillness to think, reflect, mediate, pray, whatever but I need stillness.  I want to model stillness for my children (and my dog).

Then there is listening instead of talking.  In most of my "girl" friend relationships I am the listener.  I tend to be attracted to people who talk more than I do.  I like to be entertained.  I like to listen and act the sage and provide wisdom.  But really listening isn't about providing wisdom.  Listening is about learning. 

When I don't take the time to listen to my children, I have no idea why they just misbehaved.  When I don't listen to my husband I don't know what is stressing him out, or what his troubling him.  When I don't listen to God I have no idea what he wants for me or wants me for.  In my effort to start being more still, part of this stillness needs to be to start listening again and stop talking all the time. 

I am interested in how to practice stillness and listening, any thoughts?

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