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Why deep listening matters

What lockdown and self-isolation taught me about the power of deep listening

I love learning, I would spend every penny I have in the quest for knowledge. Whether it is in the form of face to face or virtual training courses, self-learning through books, or lived experience. An opportunity to learn is pure joy.

The outbreak of COVID-19 meant that in the space of a day I lost all of my income, my freelance work stopped, yoga and coaching face to face came to a grinding halt. I was grateful that I could take some of my work online during COVID-19, working with clients to support them through this unsettling and uncertain time using breathwork, yoga, mindfulness meditation and coaching.

That being said, I suddenly found myself with a lot of spare time, no more long commutes stuck in traffic, or travelling between clients and sitting in cafes to catch up on work waiting for the next client.

Initially, I was super busy, helping studios set up online, and offering support to friends. I was supercharged, which was from excess cortisol and adrenaline running through my system. I had (like many) these grandiose plans of ‘doing’, ‘learning’ and ‘accomplishing’ lots during lockdown. I would come out an even better version of myself at the end of this!

After a couple of weeks, I completely crashed, I felt depressed and burnt out. I started to feel that I was wasting precious time and that I wasn’t doing enough. It took me a couple of days (or perhaps weeks) to recognise how insane this thinking was, I was still working, albeit less, I wasn’t doing nothing, and I started to think so what if I was doing nothing would that be so bad? I realised was that my sense of productivity included the time I spent rushing from A to B, moving between things. The act of moving around made me feel tired, but also that I was being productive too.

This free time I now had was actually free, I didn’t HAVE to fill it with something. In fact, what I learned was that I needed this time off. I needed time to do nothing, to simply be present. I could pay attention to what I had been supressing by being so busy. I was tired and I didn’t even appreciate how tired until I stopped.

My work requires that I hold an open space for other people to do their work. For them to dig deep and create the life they want. Listening and paying attention to themselves. And while I love my work, the way I have been working in the last year, rushing around being busy, left very little time for me.

Since lockdown hit, I have been able to slow down, taking classes with friends and wonderful teachers, sitting quietly and listening deeply to my own needs, spending copious amounts of time in nature, and working on what I want moving forward. What my new normal will look like, reminding myself that I choose what want to create.

There are some fundamental things I discovered or have been reminded of whilst sitting with myself, and not filling up the dead space:

  • Being busy does not cultivate financial security or personal well-being
  • It is only possible to support others when we first support ourselves
  • Creating a work life balance is vital for body and mind
  • Time in nature nourishes the mind and body
  • Creating a time to be present and sit doing nothing feeds our creativity, vitality and ability to connect openly with others

In our culture we place a high value on doing, and being productive, it seems that we have forgotten how to just be present and receive when we need.

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