Listening as an act of Love…

I was listening to one of my favorite podcasts the other day called “A Slight Change of Plans“. A podcast about people and how they deal with big changes.

The host Maya Shankar was interviewing actor Riz Ahmed who is the star of the movie Sound of Metal. It’s a movie about a drummer in a rock band who is losing his hearing.

Maya asks him what he learned about the deaf community when preparing for the role.

His answer is that at the start he thought he was just signing up to learn sign language.

But what the deaf community taught him was the meaning of the word communication and what listening really is.

Ahmed says: “Listening isn’t something you just do with your ears. It’s something you do with your entire body, with your energy, by holding space for someone else with your attention. It’s an act of love and it’s an all-body activity.”

These words touch me sooooo very deeply, because…

I realize that in my life story, you could so easily replace learning sign language with learning Thai Massage, the profound skills it has opened me up to over the past 20 years and how it is the gift that keeps on giving.

When I first started learning Thai Yoga Massage I thought I was learning this new and amazing skill. I was excited to learn this specific modality because as I understood it, it could really help people and it’s done in a way that is at least as good to give as it is to receive.

But what I quickly learned and resonated with is how getting good at it is an exercise in listening. It is just as Ahmed explains, learning what it means to listen as a whole body activity.

At the start it is about slowing down so that you can quiet the noise in your head.

You focus on paying attention to the moment, to what their body is trying to communicate with you. What it feels like to make contact with a muscle, a knot, tension.

What happens when you slowly apply a technique and that muscle starts to soften and the tension starts to melt.

And then like a scientist, you continue to explore… one inch to the right, one muscle down, to another part of the body, to another person.

Like a crescendo of symphonic music, the notes start coming to you in waves. Your ability to focus grows, what you sense widens and how that impacts you is transformational.

You are no longer in this narrow bandwidth of listening with your ears, or thinking only with your mind.

You shift from your head to your whole body.

What you’ve tapped into is a whole new realm of communication that teaches you Love. You appreciate the person you are working on and the pain they may be experiencing. The complexity of reasons this shoulder or this back hurts at this particular moment.

On the surface it might be because they’ve been sitting at their desk for hours. But whether you know it or not, that might be a result of a need to pay for their child’s education, or to put food on the table, or to build a better future, or because of a fear response, or any number of reasons that go to the very soul of their being.

And so this builds empathy, compassion, appreciation for the human experience. Empathy is no longer a thought, but something you sense from head to toe. And so here you are in your way helping to hold space, offer some healing balm to help impact them on all these levels.
In the meanwhile this act of love, is working on your whole heart.

The incredible consequences of developing your listening skills outwardly is that you can’t also help but turn that gaze inwards.

You end up dedicating yourself to the experiment and experience of loving yourself

… more and more. Bit by bit.

It is not a linear progression, as so much of the time is spent exploring the energy of forgiveness when you falter or, when someone else in your life does as well. This is a soothing balm on your heart, a healing that touches you more and more with every massage, with every meditation, with every moment spent appreciating life, the challenges and the successes and finding within them gratitude, and reasons to be proud of your efforts.

Listening as an act of love, as something you do with your whole body -and not just your ears- is up there with one of the most vital skills I could ever hope to learn as a human being. For how I treat others and how I treat myself.

This skill has and continues to serve me like gold, in my relationships, when faced with immense change and challenges, when making choices all day long about the kind of person I want to be in the world.

Thai Yoga Massage taught me that and will continue to open me up to more of those teachings with every massage and every opportunity to listen until the day I die. And I am so grateful for 20 years of this gift- teaching and giving to thousands of folks around the world.

People ask me all the time how to learn this massage. If this is resonating with you just book a time to talk by clicking here and I’ll help point the way…

Whether that is with free resources or a more in depth form of training, I am here to help and would love to share what I can in a way that best fits you and where you’re at.

Thank you for listening 🙂 ❤ 🙏

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