Listening

By Adarsh Kaur Khalsa

Part of doing something is listening. We are listening. To the sun. To the stars. To the wind.
— Madeleine L'Engle

 

In the ancient scriptures, listening is described as the highest practice. Listening is known to be healing and cleansing, and it is equivalent to bathing at sacred pilgrimage places. Listening is said to bring wisdom, patience, protection, honor and grace. It removes all errors and pain. Listening can transform a human to be great and courageous—a hero, a saint, a giver. How did the ancients discover that all of this could come from listening, one of the seemingly simplest practices? These gifts do not come from the most complicated meditation, physical strength, or great mental challenge. These results cannot be gained from intelligence or talent. Is the greatest virtue and gift something that we have overlooked? Let's begin with considering listening in everyday life...

Whenever we have a communication breakdown with a loved one or colleague, the blame or the challenge is usually first named as listening. We say, "he is not listening to me.” We do not feel heard or understood. And if we are being honest, we are probably not hearing or understanding that person, either. Our ears may be closed, our bodies turned off or away, and we may even be interrupting and speaking over our friend or partner. Listening is the first step in communication. It is the first step to softening our own wild thoughts and perpetual mental patterns to become aware of what is happening in ourselves, the other person, and the entire situation.

We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak.
— Epictetus

 

Often, there is resistance to listening. Particularly, there is resistance to listening to people with whom we do not agree. It's a challenge to listen to what we see as false perceptions or incorrect conclusions. It can also be difficult to listen to someone’s emotions (which feel uncomfortable to us) because we have not faced these emotions in ourselves. It can be especially painful to listen to how we have hurt someone or how they might feel about us.

What we usually do rather than listening is interpret or project. Instead of deeply listening directly to the person or the present moment, we interpret what someone is saying. Or, we project our own thoughts and feelings onto what someone else is saying. There may be some really good reasons why patterns of non-listening have developed. If we lived in families as children where there was yelling, violence, lies, secrets, or constant criticism, then we likely shut out part of our listening mechanism. However, as with all things, we shut out listening to the good stuff too, we shut out listening to our own inner voice, and to all of the wisdom and support around us, when we aren't open to listening. Even if it feels painful or unfamiliar, listening is the way through to healing.

To begin to experience the benefits of listening, I recommend starting with this simple practice of listening in a neutral space. It could be in nature, or it could be anywhere, with a little or a lot of noise, it doesn't matter. All you need is 5 minutes:

  • Sit in a chair or on the floor, take a few long deep breaths and let yourself slow down and become still.

  • As you sit, begin to open your ears. Take a few deep breaths and consciously relax your ears - from the inside, to the muscles around the ears.

  • Consciously relax your face, jaw, neck and shoulders.

  • Feel more awareness around your ears, open both ears to listening.

  • As you listen, identify each sound that you hear individually. It could be - clock ticking, breath, sound of traffic, voices in the hallway, breeze in the leaves of tree, birds chirping, etc.

  • Whatever you hear, neutrally identify it, recognize it, and allow for this sound to be part of your experience. No need to stay on any one sound too long, just move on to the next, with no preference for the different types of sounds.

  • Once you have identified all of the sounds, begin again, and listen more deeply.

  • You can continue in this way for five minutes, or longer if you like. At the end, inhale deeply, then exhale letting the breath go. Acknowledge gratitude for the sounds, your experience, and taking the time to do this practice.

To begin your increased awareness around listening, there is nothing else that you need to do. Simply taking this time every day to listen will affect how you listen to your own inner voice, and how you listen to others. See how it impacts your other communication and experiences.

Listening

Over time, we can develop the capacity for the kind of deep listening that ancient sages spoke about. There is a word, "Suni-ai," which means deep listening, a true listening from the heart. The subtleties and depth of this kind of listening extend to listening to the vibration of the whole Universe. At any given moment, there is an orchestra of nature playing its tune. Some sounds of the universe are pleasant, and some are grating. And yet they all are a part of us at our essence. If we can listen to ALL sounds, we learn more about ourselves and more about this world; it is all teaching us something. Usually we listen quite narrowly: to what we like, what is familiar, what fits into our agenda. There is a humility and a softness to listening without bias and to include all.

There are times of day where it might be easier for you to listen—in the early morning hours or the middle of the night are both times when there is more stillness on the earth. Find your times, and tune in. Also experiment listening when life is most chaotic; it might slow you down and give you answers you didn't know you had questions for. In listening, the messages will come that would have been missed, and the teachers in unexpected places. Literally everything is speaking and vibrating all of the time, and it's time to discover what can be borne in the "silence" of listening.

When we stop crowding our minds and thoughts with new information, we can be more nourished. We are fulfilled with quality, not quantity. When we deeply listen to nature or a beautiful piece of music... wow, what a gift that is. We really experience it, feel it, and enjoy it. The same goes for a rich conversation. With deep listening, we savor the moments. We don't need to rush to the next activity or fix. It turns our interactions and experiences into a gourmet healthy meal, rather than junk food. Creativity and intuition are activated with deep listening. Solutions are discovered, beauty is made, fun is explored. What a gift to yourself and the world to deepen your listening practice.

Other practices to try:

  1. Listen to one of the many amazing musical recordings of the “Suni-ai” poetry from Japji Sahib. By listening to this vibration, you can deepen your listening practice.
     
  2. Try this meditation practice to listen without fear.
     
  3. Audio record yourself for an entire day. Then listen. Learn more about yourself, how you express yourself, and how you share yourself with the world with your words. Warning: this can be pretty intense, and revelatory!
Deep listening helps us to recognize the existence of wrong perceptions in the other person and wrong perceptions in us.
— Thich Nhat Hanh

adarsh-kaur-khalsa

Adarsh Kaur Khalsa lives in Los Angeles and loves teaching Kundalini Yoga, Naad Yoga and Celestial Communication. She is also a member of the Aquarian Trainer Academy and the Director of Yoga West, home of Yogi Bhajan. Adarsh Kaur believes the opportunity for spiritual growth is found in the everyday work and relationships of life. She teaches with clarity, grace and kindness, and shares practical tools that students can use outside of class. Follow her on Instagram here


To learn more meditation techniques and practices to ease your life, join us next month for Holding Home in the Annapurna Living Inner Circle


How do we rise?

I saw an image the other day that really struck me, from the hurricane in Texas. It was of two women—one was crying, and the other woman was holding the face of the crying woman.

The feeling I got from the photo was:

We’ve got to be strong here
We’ve got to keep up here
We can get through this
Keep moving forward
I’m with you here
You are not alone.

I have that image in my mind of that woman holding that woman’s face and I believe that we are all both of those women. And so I encourage you and I invite you to nourish both women. They live within you, they live within me.

We are grieving and we are powering through
We are nourishing and we are doing the work
We are breathing in
We are breathing out.

I was  looking through some videos that I had made for Annapurna Living. It was like looking at old photographs. It felt like so long ago, and looking at it, I could feel the hope that I had at that time.

I still do have that hope, but I feel like the times we’re living in right now—what’s happening in the world, all the things that we’re dealing with, all the things that are happening to people—it really is a lot to hold. And I can feel for myself the wearing down, the heaviness, the weariness.

I’m sharing this because I’m sure many other people are all feeling the same way. There’s just so much going on and we are seeing so much of what’s happening. We’re seeing it in a new way because we’re able to see everything with social media and news and the internet. It’s a lot for us to hold.

We want to be compassionate. I know I do. I want to be helpful, and I want to be thoughtful, and I want to be generous and find ways to be supportive; then I have this deep feeling that we need to keep steady and hold the light as though our lives depend on it.

I say that with fierceness right now. The weariness is there—it’s acknowledged, it’s cared for, it’s nourished. And then the fierceness comes in and says ‘I’ll take care of this.’

Coming into this month, I feel that I need more discipline; I need direction and focus and clarity. I don’t want to waste time. I feel like I need a plan. I need to bring in that Fierce Grace I speak about so often.

Rise Up

The divine feminine is fierce, she is not complacent. We have a lot to carry as women. We are so compassionate; we care so much, and we feel so much.

We feel the burdens of this world in our hearts, and we carry them on our backs, and I just wanted to say I’m feeling it too. It’s so important to take care of ourselves right now by really nourishing ourselves, and what’s coming through for me is how essential it is to create really strong systems that I can lean on.

My systems are:

Meditation
Waking up early so I can get things done
Eating well
Sleeping well
Moving my body
Connecting to like minded soulful awake people

(You know, the stuff that flies out the window when we feel stressed and worried.)

We can keep up. We can keep going. We can take care of ourselves and be fierce and be soft and be graceful and be strong and be true and full-on. We can be all of it.

We just need to know when to back off and take a break, and when to step forward. That’s the dance right?

These times need me and they need you.
They need us.
Us light warriors, the pissed-off-and-not-going-to-be-silent warriors.
We will rise up, because if we don't we will decay into the dark.

How do we rise?
We keep shining
We listen
We act
We give
We connect
We insist that we grow
We face our own stuff
We keep on keeping up.

There are so many places you can give financially. Find something that aligns with your heart and give what you can.
Then look around you and find ways to be of service.
Ways to be that change we all know must happen.
Don't let these trying times paralyze you with sadness and despair.

The world needs us.

 

Love,
Carrie-Anne


Join me in 2018 for Fierce Grace:


Decadent Intimacy

For me, images of the goddess
are rooted in the real.

I see her in the woman at the grocery store.
Her authenticity pierces me like an arrow of truth.
And gives me pause and affirmation that aging naturally, beautifully is breathtaking.

I see her in the grace of a woman stepping into her power for the first time, giving room for her voice, and her truth.

I see her in the young woman navigating her purpose aligned with what matters to HER rather than what others think.

I see the goddess in the mirror and then on other days I see nothing.
The days of nothing are the days that need my dear attention.

If I can breathe into me,
And feel into me,
I can transform the moment in a breath.

It's easy to look like a goddess dressed in flowing perfection.
But what about the mundane realness of this life?
What about walking from the bed to the kitchen?
How about in the way you make yourself a meal?
Or in the way you think about yourself?
Can I bring compassion to the weary bits of myself?

Us modern women need to look within ourselves to feel the goddess that lives inside. Looking like a goddess is nice sure, but feeling like one is true heaven.

There is wisdom here in the moments that are hard.
There is wisdom in the dark of the moon, my dear teacher Paramatma reminds me.
There is information here.

In the dark we can see what needs shifting, what needs our attention. What is achey and whiney is a signal for what we do need, crave and desire.

Carrie-Anne Meditation

The more I sit to meditate, the clearer I become.

Every morning as it sit, I get the message and the wisdom to simplify my life so that I can hear my own wisdom.

Simplifying for me is an inside job.

It's letting go of all the thinking, the figuring out.
Sure, it's clearing out physical spaces, closets and drawers, but
Most importantly to me
It's the clearing of my mind.

It's in the living::

I want to live fully :: deeply :: connected and in my grace.
I want to be present and not whirling through all the things I think I need.

Ahhh
Mental space is luxurious
And ultimately...
Makes me feel like a goddess

Next month in the Inner Circle I will be talking about the inner goddess, so this is on my mind lately. 

The eclipse last week :: wow:: got me :: I felt emotional watching the two (sun and moon) merge.

I’m feeling so much gratitude and a wee bit tired.

I’m creating content for next month’s #annapurnalivinginnercircle

It's a real pleasure for me to support the women who alongside me crave lives aligned from the inside out :: there is so much going on out there and my life is ramping up and I want it to; so the clearer I get to simplify the inner workings of my mind, the more expansive and free I feel.

Clearing away the worry, the doubt, and the chatter is true self care for me. Being able to be with my family/friends without BEing somewhere else in my mind is

Decadent Intimacy ~

Join me if you feel inspired::

Love,
Carrie-Anne



Softness

By Adarsh Kaur Khalsa

Softness is relaxed, softness breathes, softness listens, softness understands, softness acknowledges the moment - both pain and pleasure, softness allows and creates space, softness yields to movement and flows with the momentum of the current.

In our modern world, we move quickly, focus on outcomes, and frequently shut ourselves out to our own emotions and senses. We rightly feel the need to protect and  cushion ourselves from pain and suffering. In this paradigm, we may feel tough, or strong or accomplished, but are we experiencing as much enjoyment as we could? There is an element called softness, for which we have to be intentional about creating the time and space in our lives.

What is softness?

Softness is relaxed, softness breathes, softness listens, softness understands, softness acknowledges the moment - both pain and pleasure, softness allows and creates space, softness yields to movement and flows with the momentum of the current.

And what are the inner qualities that give us a state of softness?

  • Trust.
  • Vulnerability.
  • Inclusivity.
  • Allowing.
  • Compassion.

If this sounds like a state you would like to experience, then why do you think you aren’t able to be soft more often? I have found that it is because there is a fear to experience our own feelings and not be in control of them or what is happening to us. There is an insecurity or fear about being who we really are, and we wonder if we are enough. Before the relaxation can be enjoyed, we will likely feel very uncomfortable when we attempt more softness. We may feel that we are not doing enough, and that we are not protected or productive.

The nature of softness is receptivity. Receptive is different than passive. With receptivity, you are actively allowing, actively accepting. You choose to be soft, which is empowering. This is not an act of submission to any person or outside thing. This is a relationship with the the universal energy, and it is through this relationship that everything else is filtered and processed, so that what you receive is what is meant for you. In this way, you can be sensitive and soft while being protected.

When we protect ourselves so we won’t feel pain, that protection becomes like armor, like armor that imprisons the softness of of the heart.
— Pema Chodron

The irony is that we resist being soft and revealing the sensitivity of our soul and who we truly are in order to feel safe, when it is the allowing the softness that provides the most protection, love and joy. The infinite, the divine, the universe protects us the most when we are innocently vulnerable, just as the instincts are for humans and nature to protect a baby who cannot protect herself. Have you ever finally taken the courageous step to speak up for yourself or to bring a creation to the world that comes from your vulnerability, and found that you are granted with an abundance of support that you never knew you had? New resources show up, and you can feel the buoyancy of the universe’s support when you have laid yourself bare with your truth. The more we do this in every part of our life, the more we are willing to be that soft and vulnerable, the more this support will continue to show up.

Softness is about being focused more on the inner than the outer.  We develop the inner to create the outer. That is why it is so feminine, and sometimes feels so foreign in our modern world. You might not feel that you are “doing” enough, it might not feel exciting enough, or valuable enough. But when we value our inner world, the outer world will support and reflect that. The inner world is where our self-respect is built. And what we develop on the inside is something that no one can take away on the outside. What is more protected and real than that?

fiercegrace33.jpg

When we haven’t developed ourselves from the inside out, a more familiar posture we take is a hard shell of protection. We put on a cloak of tension and a preservation mask, that doesn’t show our true emotions, to feel safe. Though we think we are helping ourselves, these veils take a toll on our energy, it is tiring to keep these up. And being tense is not the best place to respond from or to protect ourselves if we are indeed in true danger. Even in martial arts, there is a certain amount of softness you keep, a relaxedness so that you can better respond to any enemy. If you are too tense, then you waste your energy, and are slower to make a move. Another benefit is that when your energy is more soft, you can choose your response more clearly—you might get out of the way (“bob and weave” for the boxers out there), rather than attack back. It can save you energy, and take more from your opponent.

“To be soft is to be powerful.”
— Rupi Kaur

The protection as a spiritual warrior originates from her inner strength and connection to the divine energy—or you could call this universal energy or nature energy. Connecting to the universal energy requires you to be receptive. This gives you the power and support to know that you are not in this alone, that you will have what you need when you need it. You will know what you need to know when you need to. When you connect powerfully with your inner energy and the universal energy, then you can be more soft. When you already feel this protection, you can relax, you can feel the support, and you have the trust to keep stepping forward in action, with softness. You can trust in your more subtle aspects like your intuition to protect you and support you as well.

The qualities of inner strength and connection to universal energy are inherently part of you, and can be developed and revealed as you access and rely upon them. They both begin with self trust and self worth. Do the actions that build your inner strength—whether that be quiet time with yourself each day, physical exercise and challenges that build your physical strength, or repeating affirmations each day to remind yourself of your innate gifts and values. You can build your connection to the universal energy through your breath, through a trust in something bigger than yourself, and believing that you are worthy of being supported and loved.  

Softness is being aware there is a bigger picture, it is being fluid. Softness is knowing that if this one thing doesn’t work out, there will be something else around the corner. Softness is being willing to make “mistakes”, being creative, vulnerable, or trying new things. Softness is a willingness to be fully alive. Softness is knowing and accepting yourself. Softness is being able to joyfully receive. Softness is knowing that you are a magical, powerful woman, and a co-creator of your life and future, and that you have an infinite supply of resources to support and nourish you and your life.

Recommended yogic practices:

  • Stretch pose
  • Sat Kriya
  • Any aura building exercises with the arms
  • Long deep breathing
  • Grace of God meditation
  • Meditation for Bhrosa (Trust)

Other practical tips:

  1. Do a body scan every night before bed and identify where you are holding tension. One at a time, breathe into those places, and on the exhale release the tension in your body. Continue this practice until all of the tension is released. Be sure to check in to the area of your breasts and chest to release tension, as well as your ovaries and the entire pelvis and hip area.
     
  2. When facing a challenging situation, notice if your response is to attack back. Ask yourself, is this the best approach to the situation? Will I get the outcome I want? Or, is there a way to try a softer approach (and not have your defenses up so strongly) to this situation that could create an equal or even greater outcome? You could ask questions, rather than immediately attacking back. Or, you could attempt a more collaborative solution to the challenge, rather than feeling isolated or that you must handle it yourself.
     
  3. After your response, assess if the outcome was different or better than your normal pattern. What felt good about it, and what didn’t? What could you try next time?
     
  4. Every week, commit to trying one new thing that is uncomfortable because it is vulnerable for you. This could be sharing with a friend how you feel about something, or creatively expressing yourself in an art form. Journal about your experience as you begin to share more of yourself.

adarsh-kaur-khalsa.jpg

Adarsh Kaur Khalsa lives in Los Angeles and loves teaching Kundalini Yoga, Naad Yoga and Celestial Communication. She is also a member of the Aquarian Trainer Academy and the Director of Yoga West, home of Yogi Bhajan. Adarsh Kaur believes the opportunity for spiritual growth is found in the everyday work and relationships of life. She teaches with clarity, grace and kindness, and shares practical tools that students can use outside of class. Follow her on Instagram here


For deeper conversations and online Kundalini meditations, sign up for the Annapurna Living Inner Circle and join a growing community of amazing women. Led by Carrie-Anne Moss, the Inner Circle provides reflection, growth, and conversation. 

There are certain lessons that I continue to learn

I am on lake today, in a beautiful old home that's been lovingly, simply restored. I love old things that are cared for and valued. I am with my family and friends and extended family. I am surrounded by trees and water.

Did you know that the trees around a lake are there to act as a filter? Nature is so smart and true.

I sat round a table laughing and sharing with my husband and some dear friends; the children were hanging out and the conversation we were having was peppered with giggles from the children and from the grown ups.

There have been moments on this part of my summer that didn't go quite as planned. There were moments of stress or meltdowns... but still, I work on myself.

I work on myself with care attention and fierce grace. I want to be awake. I want to be true. I don't need to be right. I lean on teachers and I meditate daily. I have good friends who offer themselves to me in such grace and generosity that I'm in awe that I brought this into my life.

In the middle of a stressful moment of our vacation, I walked my talk, and I was reminded why we do the work.

We do the work so that when the shit hits that fan, we can keep steady. The saying, "There is a way through every block" has been living in me ... it's gone from something I read to art on my wall. A constant reminder to a way of life oozing from within me.

there is  way through every block....

I bow to my teachers.
I bow to life for  showing me where there is work still to do
Gently, fiercely, I walk through the days of my life laughing and crying and being all that I am: imperfectly perfect. 

I will face this life with my heart open.  

There are certain lessons that I continue to learn over and over again. Lessons on trust, connection, and letting go. It almost sounds cliche to write that down. (Again). But this is the dance I do that heals and transforms me and my life.

This summer has been filled with work, family, and creativity, and it has nourished me in so many ways. Just walking through NYC, a city that is alive in a way I have never felt anywhere else, does something to my spirit.

I have deepened friendships in during my time here in NYC, and I’ve found the community I’ve been craving. I took a Reiki class from my dear friend Malin … I always knew my hands could heal, and this helped me put it into action. I have made friends with so many people in my neighborhood here in NYC that it will be hard to go back to Los Angeles when I complete this job.

I moved to LA 25 years ago this week. At the time, I had a dream in my heart and few bucks in my pocket. I had no idea how I was going to become an actor, but my dream and my will were so strong, I knew it would happen. I also knew if I didn't try, I'd always regret it. I'm a wee bit reminiscent today thinking of that young girl and her brave heart, and as I head into my 50th year of life, I marvel at the life I have led. The gratitude I have is huge.

I am grateful for this life.
For the trees.
For the tea in my hand.
The honey that sweetens it.
For the clothes on my body.
My sweet mother and my lineage.
My brother and his family.
And my dad.

I'm am grateful for this breath.
And the this breath and this one, too.
I am grateful for my husband.
My children.
My friends and co-workers.
And the animals and plants that are constant reminders to me of the sacredness of this world.

I am grateful to my teachers:
Steven
Owen
Kaden and Frances
And Guru Singh and Paramatma Siri Sadhana.

I am grateful for the women I lean on and I am grateful that I have the wisdom to see the power in being there for them. Gratitude is one of my favorite tools::

I opened my journal today to this:
If every moment opens to something new
"Who will I be?"
Can I breathe into this moment
Fully
Simply
Can I see who is in front of me?
Can I see who I'm with?
Can I notice the gold in the fray of my life?
The pop music on my phone instead of mantra, DJ'd by my 8-year-old ...
I chose to see the magic here.
I choose to surrender.
I let go.
I choose connection.
And instead of wishing for something else,
I can dance with my daughter
I can see her.
 

And because of that
I can truly see me:::

Love,
Carrie-Anne