A friend recommended a book to me called “Noble Listening”. I’ve always wanted to be a better listener and I dove into the 52 “practices” on listening. I quickly realized that listening is a skill, one that we can cultivate and master. Listening is not only about how we hear and know others, but it is our ability to tune in to and know ourselves. Listening is profoundly healing……as I learned from this incredible story in the book from Dr Christine Hubbard. She shares her experience with an indigenous New Zealand Maori tribe and her conversation with their medical doctor:
She asks the doctor just what medicine is used for healing the illnesses on the island. He said they used no medicine whatsoever. None. If a Maori is sick in any way, from a cold to cancer, they would call the entire community and all gathered round, including the children. They would position the ill person in the center and the community would sit. The person would be asked one question and one question only “What is it that you are not saying?”. The community would all sit and wait for days until this person would reveal all of what he or she was keeping to him or herself. The doctor reported a 98% healing rate.
What is it we are not saying… to ourselves and others? Could unexpressed emotions lead to dis-ease in our minds, hearts and bodies? How does feeling heard affect the healing process? Could connecting to our innate wisdom, remembering who we are and speaking our truth be the one of the biggest secrets to a life of happiness and health? These are the questions that arise from this true story of the Maori Tribe.
As a student of life and as a physical therapist and co-founder of a NYC physiotherapy and wellness center – I am incessantly curious about humanity’s power to heal from suffering and pain, I have traveled and explored many ancient wisdom traditions. I have always been fascinated with the teachings of Buddhism, Taoism, the Veda’s, ancient Egyptian, Native Americans, the Mayans and Polynesians. Exploring their common themes helps us to look at the deeper meaning of how answering this simple question “What is it that you are not saying” can have such profound effect for all of us, not just when we are sick, but simply when we are feeling stifled, stuck, or just depleted and tired.
I began contemplating this question myself and asking others “what is it that you are not saying”. At first it was hard to find the answer – I realized this was because many of our deeply held emotions of anger, jealousy, desire, pride and ignorance (the “5 poisons” described by Buddhists) and our unfulfilled needs of love/connection, variety, significance, certainty, growth and contribution are often suppressed and held in our subconscious. On the journey of being human we constantly encounter challenging situations – mini traumas to our psyche and only when we are aware of them can we heal them. In one of my favorite Taoist wisdom text “The Secret of the Golden Flower” we are taught the technique of “turning around the light”. Light is another word for awareness. When one is aware of something one sheds light on it. When one is not aware, it stays in the dark. “Turning around the light” means turning one’s awareness, which is normally focused on the external to shedding light on one’s inner world – to do this we must cultivate stopping, observing and listening. Once our dis-ease is brought into awareness, we can further transmute the negative emotion by saying it out loud and asking for forgiveness.so we can fully release it. Expressing these emotions instead of holding them inside begins the process of “letting go” When these emotions are witnessed, deeply heard by everyone that matters to us and we use the power of forgiveness, and turn anger into love, pride into humility, ignorance into wisdom inner healing can start to take place and we can become whole again.
Imbedded in this question and its healing capabilities we can also find a deep misunderstanding of who we are. Answers to the question become statements like : I’m Alone, I Don’t Belong, I’m Different, I’m a Failure, I Don’t Have, I’m not Loved, I’m Inferior. I’m Wrong, I’m Powerless. These beliefs are learned from others and a culturally distorted society that alienates us from our essential qualities of love creativity and joy, the only source of our inner power.
What if instead of “I’m alone” I heard myself say “I am not born alone. I came here to love and to be loved and I have the power to create deep and meaningful connections with others”.
Instead “I Don’t Belong” I heard myself say: “I am part of all that is, deeply related to all beings, and profoundly necessary to the wellbeing of the whole”
Instead of “I am Wrong” – I heard myself say “There are no mistakes in nature. Who I am and what I have to contribute is profoundly necessary to the wellbeing of all”
So next time you are feeling a little dis-ease, stop and ask yourself… “What is it that I am not saying?” Then open your heart and sit quietly with yourself, with compassion and maybe invite a few people who matter to you and you feel safe with and let your heart speak out.
You might be pleasantly surprised in the power of full expression and emotional truth, the biology of belief and your innate wisdom to heal.
Share with us how this powerful practice works for you!