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Welcome to the sixth installment in blog from Torri Shafer, author of “Romancing the Soul”.  Listen deeply and take care of yourself.

Listening Deeply to Your Life

This morning as I walked by the lake, I came upon a tree filled with birds. Each one was singing riotously, filling the whole meadow. This meadow, which had heard only the wind all winter, now played host to an ensemble of sounds coming from that singing tree. I couldn’t help but take on a lightness of heart as I listened. I have heard that humans are hardwired to unwind and relax when listening to the sound of chirping birds. It is a lullaby that wraps us in feelings of safety. When the birds stop singing, something is afoot.

As I moved down the path, the receding chorus was replaced by the rustle of old reeds and the whisper of the wind through the salt cedars.   I paused and could hear, just faintly, the sound of baby birds in the thicket. Baby birds are not born knowing their song; they learn it from their parents. Much like human babies, they babble. Gradually, the incessant peeping merges with the cadence of the others to create a concert of them all, demonstrating that true communication is dependent upon everyone involved.

In order to be heard, one must first listen. We humans, unlike baby birds, seem to lose the ability to listen once we learn to talk. Self-absorbed, we babble among ourselves, having ceased to hear the world we inhabit. Our days are crammed with man-made noises, our minds cluttered with chatter.

We have wandered the earth for some 200,000 years, yet it is only in the last century or so that we have become preoccupied with only hearing our own voices. Documented evidence shows that our overbearing noise has damaged species—from whales to fruit bats.

We are not only hurting other life forms, but are also endangering our own lives. “Listening” validates the other person.  By listening to others, we let them know that they matter to us. By not listening to the world around us, we send the message that the world is inconsequential to our lives which, of course, could not be further from the truth. When we are not in tune with our environment, we have a harder time adapting.  And, those who don’t adapt, don’t live. For us, the birds have suddenly fallen silent, and danger is definitely afoot.

Listening is not merely hearing. Hearing is the automatic recognition and labeling of sounds, whereas listening is an intentional, devotional skill that creates a union between an individual and whatever or whomever that individual is trying to understand.

The word “understand” is pivotal. In order to understand something or someone, individuals must quiet their inner voices, open their minds/hearts, and in that spaciousness, become fully engaged in the voice of the other. Such engagement is essential to the development of true learning, cooperation, and empathy. It is also, I would venture to say, the only way to feel a complete sense of belonging and connectedness.

By valuing the voices of others, we in turn, begin to hold precious our own voices and places in the world.  J. Isham writes, “Listening is an attitude of the heart, a genuine desire to be with another, which both attracts and heals.” By listening to the world around us, we return to the essential core of our being, becoming harmonious with all that is.

A symphony surrounds us, whether it is the rush of wind, the delicious trill of a meadowlark, or the very silence that makes the music possible. We need to unplug our ears so the world can welcome us back.

Listening to Your Body Meditation

You need to listen to your body because your body is listening to you.  ~Phil McGraw

Your body is constantly talking to you, but the voice is soft and easily drowned out by the cacophony of our mind. The body speaks not in words but in sensation. It is a running dialogue of our present condition and, as such, brings us instantly into the present moment when we pause to listen. Our thoughts, however, are a crazy quilt of past, future, and inconsequential questions. They blanket you from sensation and muffle the exquisite experience of being.

As you learn to listen to your body, you become attune to its subtle messages about your emotions, health and well-being. Giving your body the attention it deserves also activates a natural relaxation response and a deep sense of well-being.

To begin, affirm your intention to focus on sensation rather than thinking. If you notice thinking  beginning to intrude, which it will, just tell yourself “This is thinking.” Then return to the sensations with the thought, “This is being.”

While breathing slowly through your nose, begin sensing your body.

Be aware of sensations in your jaw, mouth, and tongue. As you welcome sensation, feel the relaxation response that deepens over time, spreading throughout your body.

Sense both ears at the same time as pure sensation.

Sense your cheeks and nose and the sensation in both nostrils.

Give up thinking, and sense your eyes as sensation.

Sense your forehead, cool and soft – and your scalp and the back of your head and neck.

Sense your shoulders, arms, hands, and fingers. Welcome both arms and hands simultaneously.

Bring attention into your upper chest and back, and then your middle chest and back. Bring attention to your abdomen and lower back. Feel your entire torso, front and back, as sensation only. Let go of thinking. Your entire torso is heavy and at ease.

Sense your pelvis, buttocks, and hips, and then your thighs, legs, feet, and toes. Welcome both legs and feet as pure sensation. Both legs are heavy and at ease.

Sense the entire front of your body, and then the back. Next, sense the left side of your body, and then the right. Feel sensation inside your body and on the surface.

Feel yourself as spacious, open, and aware, while welcoming feelings of security, groundedness, peace, and well-being.

Warm Honey Facial Mask

If the body is pampered, the mind is free to concentrate.  ~Judy Blundell

Everybody deserves a little pampering. Today you are going to pamper yourself with a luxurious warm honey mask. Raw honey is very sweet for your skin. Its main skin-saving properties include:

Acne: Honey is naturally antibacterial, so it’s great for acne treatment and prevention.

Aging: Full of antioxidants, it is also great for slowing down aging.

Complexion boost: It is extremely moisturizing and soothing, so it helps create a glow.

Pores: Honey is clarifying because it opens up pores making them easy to unclog.

When used as a mask, raw honey can un-clog pores while moisturizing your skin at the same time. Simply warm a teaspoon of honey (about ten seconds in the microwave will do).

Then add a squirt of lemon juice. This will not only help the honey spread easier but it has incredible skin benefits as well. Lemon is a natural antiseptic that is rich in vitamin C, which is, in part, responsible for healthy skin and can alleviate wrinkles and minimize age spots.

You can also add a little turmeric for an added glow to the skin. Turmeric has been utilized in many beauty products over the centuries. Its anti-inflammatory powers are used to reduce the signs of aging, exfoliate dead skin, clear the skin and ease eczema. It also reduces sebum production so is a great treatment for acne.

Finally, if you want, add a drop of two of your favorite essential oil for a little aromatic pampering. Lavender is always a good choice. If you have acne, a little tea tree would be beneficial.

Once the mask is prepared, massage it gently into the skin, taking your time and addressing any tension you feel in your jaw and forehead. As you massage, feel a sense of gratitude for this time that you can pamper yourself. Breathe into a feeling of well-being.

Now, let the mask sit for around 15 minutes. It is best to be indoors for this treatment since lemon can make the skin photosensitive. This would be a wonderful time to do the following meditation. When 15 minutes are up, gently wash the mask off with warm water.


This blog is an excerpt from “Romancing the Soul”, a wonderful book by Torri Shafer, focusing on self-care and love. It is a collection of 24 mini-retreats arranged by the seasons; each month, there are two retreats, complete with a meditation, mindful walk, journaling prompt and at-home spa treatment. Torri’s book is available for purchase here.