Joy Tip Wednesday: Stop Thinking to Listen

"That's like repeating seventh grade for the third time...no one wants to do that," said my chiropractor.  He and I always have the best conversations as he twists and gently cracks my spine back into alignment.  Two kindred, curious souls, on this path called life.  We're always reviewing what's happening in my life, the questions hanging out in my mind late at night, the ahas, the stuck points, the things I'm excited about for my business, but never just the weather.  

This time we were talking about a person that captured my heart 8 months ago.  During the first phone conversation I felt like I was brought into another world.  Where we could both read each other's minds as if we had known each other for eons.  It was too uncanny.  And it captured every fiber of my being.  I remember being both absolutely enthralled and frightened at the same time.  Our first date, when we met each other's eyes under the light of an evening street light was as if time stopped and we met to say "oh there you are..." after all this time.  But all what time?  

I fell in love instantly.  I was swept off my feet.  And then it started.  The cycles and patterns of pain and suffering that we created together.  Swirling in expectations, differences, misaligned needs, reinforcing wounds. 

The number of times we tried to think our ways out of the cycle is numerous.  Both bright analytical minds, we explored the situation every which way to find a way out of the song on repeat.  When I found myself one Sunday spinning in thinking about another way out of the cycle I decided it was time for a walk around the block.  Almost immediately the pressure that had been building up inside of me released and a space far more free and understanding opened inside of me.  

The truth is, we can't think our way out of...anything.  Because clarity comes when we give up thinking.

Even though I know this, the Universe has been teaching me new layers of this lesson this year.  It taught me the week my body developed a rash on my torso to let me know my intuition had a different perspective on a situation than my mind.  In the moment I noticed my throat always tightened when I spent time with this person I loved to let me know my voice, my truth, was unhealthily constrained in our interactions.  In the moment I first held Odi, my parrot, I knew she and I were meant to be together even though my mind was sure we needed to visit many more aviaries.  

Have you ever had a moment where your body told you something different than the story of your mind?  

A moment where you were told it's not safe and you didn't know why?  Or told you to stay a little longer at a party and you weren't sure why?  Intuition.  It's always there waiting to be discovered and yet so often our minds get in the way because we are convinced we can think our ways out of anything.

Lately over the last several years I've been asking questions more than thinking about situations.  I've been learning to listen inside rather than telling myself.  I've been curious rather than sure.  I've been moving away from problem solving and into allowing pictures to become clear organically on their own.    

When I get into my thinking mind, I "repeat seventh grade for the third time."  It's uncomfortable.  It's awkward.  And sometimes even embarrassing.  I convince myself to try situations over and over again from different angles when I inherently know in the very essence of my being that they aren't working.  Like the person I fell in love with.  I knew it wasn't working, but my mind told me I could make it work.  My throat told me my voice couldn't be heard.  My nervous system told me it didn't feel safe.  And yet my mind convinced me to persist.  Does it mean that a situation can never change?  No.  But when my mind holds out for hope in service of rejecting what I feel to be true in my very being, I suffer.  We all suffer.

For this week's Joy Tip Wednesday I want to invite us to notice where we're repeating seventh grade for the third time.  To stop thinking our ways out of the situation and to be with the feeling we know to be true.  Here's how:

  1. Identify a situation where you are on the repeat cycle.  Where patterns and cycles continue to play out.  Lovingly own that this is your "repeating seventh grade for the third time" scenario.
  2. Are you spending time thinking about it right now?  Stop.  Give yourself permission to let go of thinking.  Of analyzing.  Of problem solving.  Allow it to be.  Knowing that so far endlessly thinking about it is not producing something different.  You know what they say about insanity right?  Doing the same thing over and over again, expecting a different result.  Give yourself permission to stop thinking.  Analyzing.
  3. Tap into the feeling of your body.  When you think about this situation, notice where you feel it in your body.  And notice what it feels like.  
  4. Go to that space of the body and start asking questions.  Be curious.  What does the sensation there feel like?  What does that sensation need?  What does it want?  How does it want to feel?
  5. Listen.  Ask questions into the space of your being and listen to what immediately comes back.  If nothing comes back.  Perfect.  Leave it.  Something will come to you eventually when you have space for it.  
  6. Trust what you hear.  What you feel.  What you know.  If any action flows forward, have it come from this space.  From the space of your body, your intuitive knowing, rather than the analytics of your mind.  

Another story that reminded me of the power in the practice of giving up thinking happened to me just last night.  During class I invited my yoga students to give themselves permission to not "think" on the mat.  To notice when they were.  And to understand that through questions, through listening, they could tap into this great wisdom inside of them.  Like simply communicating with their back and asking it to release and watching what happens rather than analyzing whether it has relaxed enough or how to relax it.  After class, one of my students came up with the biggest smile and tears in her eyes.  "I lost my boyfriend several years ago and I've been struggling to remember what our apartment together looked like."  It had been years since her loss and she still was unable to recover this sacred space they shared together that connected her to him.  After giving herself permission to not think in class, after dedicating her practice to him, while in savasana, in the most receptive moment of practice where people surrender their body and spirit by laying on the floor...it came.  The apartment.  The details.  The furniture.  The painted walls.  And she remembered.  

When we surrender into not thinking, miracles can happen.  Insight is born.  Clarity is found.  And what we so desperately desire to know...comes.  It may not always come in the way we want it to.  Or the timeline we have in mind.  But it's there if we open ourselves to it.

So what now with the one I love?  I let go.  I grieve.  I thank the Universe for the gift of the reminder to trust my intuition.  I celebrate my ability to crack open my heart once again, completely vulnerable, and love.  I cherish the amazing moments and the difficult ones as teachers.  I stand stronger.  I feel more empathy.  And strangely, I love him more now that I've given myself permission to let go of thinking my way out of it.  And giving myself permission to know.  Listen.  Feel.  

Much love,

Marci