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Meditation as listening

My meditation practice changed a lot during lockdown. Some of the things that used to encourage me to practice had shifted, and I was given the space to notice that.

I realised that I could no longer make myself do any practice that feels trying to get somewhere, or to master a technique, or as a self-improvement project. It seems I used to be more motivated to meditate when I was trying to find a cure for emotional discomfort!

So what does that leave? At the moment (until things change again), it leaves meditation as an act of listening.

To the rise and fall of body sensations.

To the flow of emotional energy.

To the presence in the land – of the air, the ground, the plant and animal beings.

To something wiser than what my thinking mind knows.

To the insights that can only be received by the imaginative part of me.

Just listening. Not judging, or fixing, or trying to make something happen.

Listening more deeply.

There’s an indigenous teaching about the importance of ‘deep listening’, which I have come to think of as listening with the whole of my body.*

To me, that sometimes feels like like listening with my eyes, or seeing with my ears. A brightly-coloured flower seems to speak to my eyes; or a sound can bring me information just as directly as anything visual.

Going into lockdown gave me the space to take baby steps towards deep listening. Coming ‘out’ of it is giving me the desire to continue.

*My understanding of ‘deep listening’ is informed by the interviews in the beautiful documentary Voices Of The Grandmothers and by the writing of Hank Wesselman

3 Comments Post a comment
  1. Helen S #

    Thank you for this article on meditation as listening. it is inspiring hearing of your exploration of and changes in your meditation practice. I’m reminded of Dadirri, an Australian indigenous movement which basically means ‘deep listening’. If you haven’t already, you may be interested in looking it up, it was started by Miriam-Rose Ungunmerr-Baumann who was made Senior Australian of the Year in 2020. It is a beautiful way of being. Here is a link to her foundation: There are other links online.


    August 14, 2021
    • Yes, the practice you mention is referred to in the Hank Wesselman article I linked to at the bottom of the piece – it has been very inspiring for me too! Thank you for sharing an additional link 🙏


      August 17, 2021

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