Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Learning to Listen


As my training in Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy progresses, my ability to listen to myself deepens. I find that when faced with a difficult decision that stumps my intellect, there is a knowing voice within me that cries out the answer. It has always been there, but I used to discount it as just wishful thinking, my imagination, or bad habit disguised as intuition.

Those voices exist, too. But now I've started to know the difference. As part of my training, I've received many Phoenix Rising sessions and done a lot of self-reflection through journaling, making art, authentic movement. I've come to know the different characters in my inner troupe: the King, the Honor Student, the Golden Yogi, the Bad Boy (and many more). I am starting to recognize who is present when I react, usually by noticing how I feel in my body.

No, this isn't multiple-personality disorder! There's mounting scientific evidence that "within each brain, different selves are continually popping in and out of existence -- bargaining with, deceiving, and plotting against one another." That quote is from a great article in The Atlantic called "First Person Plural" that discusses this view of the self as multiple.

Not mentioned in the article, but experientially discoverable, is the presence of one voice within us that speaks Truth. The yogis identified this as the Self or Atman - unique among the lower-case "s" selves. It can also be called intuition. Slowly, I am learning to hear and trust this voice. My intention when giving a Phoenix Rising session is to let my intuition guide me in choosing my words and postures. To listen with my whole body and mind. To respond to whatever is happening on the mat, rather than analyze what should or shouldn't happen.

The experience of receiving a Phoenix Rising session is also one of listening. The practitioner is there as an amplifier for the client's experience - not adding anything. The dialogue is designed to help the client hear themselves more clearly. To open to the rich stream of information constantly flowing in from the body, the emotions, the subconscious mind. Therapeutic results arise when a voice that has been silenced is finally heard. Beyond any specific insights, to do Phoenix Rising work is to practice a skill - listening to yourself - that can be applied everywhere. As our inner ears grow sharper, even the most mundane moment of life become fertile soil for insight and growth.

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