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Posts Tagged ‘Listening’

Watching Over Everything

Wednesday, June 28th, 2017

The birds – they see everything. They fly overhead seeing everything. The birds have a different view.

View. The view of the heart. Does that not watch over everything too? How do we watch over? With love? With judgment? With peace? With an open heart?

Is there a being of love watching over everything? Perhaps this is my faith calling me back. Maybe I am ready, listening, and remembering to return.

Returning to light and darkness. Day and night. Doesn’t that watch over us too?

The night sky – looking up – watching over everything through the stars. The lights blinking, glowing, soaring through the sky. What do the stars see through their lens of light?

The light passes. The darkness opens me up to more light. Here I am shining. Here we are shining.

I have learned how much is watching over me. In the end, it is love, always love, watching over me. Here I AM: SKY, SPIRIT, STARS, LOVE watching….

Watching over everything.

This essay was inspired from the Prompt a Day Program with Cynthia Morris.

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The Courage to Connect to What Matters

Monday, March 6th, 2017

spring_flowers17Where does our courage come from? How is it that even when we are scared, we do things afraid?

In thinking about courage, I dug deep into the birthing of my own courageous experiences. I noticed that I had many courageous moments, and at times, and just as equally, moments when I held back from being brave. What I discovered was:

Not only am I inherently courageous – I tap into my courageous self in order to connect to everything that really matters.

Courage is the doorway that opens up to other rooms in my life. I need all these rooms to step fully into my life. Others rooms that open up once I tap into courage are:

Curiosity, Connection, Compassion, and Creativity.

Courage is needed to cultivate all of these qualities. These qualities are the antidote to fear, anger, impatience, and apathy. I noticed that when I am courageous, I’m often afraid in the exact same moment.

Who are you when you are feeling courageous and who are you becoming?

Keep doing it afraid!

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Be Present and Lean In

Thursday, July 25th, 2013

Be present. Lean into discomfort.
Bring the light to each experience.
Listen for the open mind – the free mind – the fun mind.
Let go of exaggerations and delusions of the mind.

Ask: What am I saying no to? What am I saying yes to?

Exhale stress. Inhale light.
Be present. Let go of the past. Release the anxiety of the future.
Be present with each experience and lean in.

As Pema Chödrön says, “The next time you lose heart and you can’t bear to experience what you’re feeling, you might recall this instruction: change the way you see it and lean in. Instead of blaming our discomfort on outer circumstances or on our own weakness, we can choose to stay present and awake to our experience, not rejecting it, not grasping it, not buying the stories that we relentlessly tell ourselves. This is priceless advice that addresses the true cause of suffering—yours, mine, and that of all living beings.”

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We Have What We Need

Thursday, January 17th, 2013

“This is a work in progress, a process of uncovering our natural openness, uncovering our natural intelligence and warmth. I have discovered, just as my teachers always told me, that we already have what we need. The wisdom, the strength, the confidence, the awakened heart and mind are always accessible, here, now, always. We are just uncovering them. We are rediscovering them. We’re not inventing them or importing them from somewhere else. They’re here. That’s why when we feel caught in darkness, suddenly the clouds can part. Out of nowhere we cheer up or relax or experience the vastness of our minds. No one else gives this to you. People will support you and help you with teachings and practices, as they have supported and helped me, but you yourself experience your unlimited potential.”

~Pema Chödrön, Taking the Leap: Freeing Ourselves from Old Habits and Fears

{Photo by Mary Anne Flanagan}

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Give and Receive

Wednesday, August 29th, 2012

My meditations have shifted from listening to receiving. I find it so much easier to give and have struggled with receiving. I have lived from a place that dreads asking for help. My role as a giver comes from my work as “a giver” and my role as a healer, a coach, a mentor, and a teacher. And now I am ready to shift it. It’s time to receive. I’m open to receiving.

As Byron Katie says, “Have you noticed how many times you try to control what comes in by giving rather than receiving? What happens when you just stand there and receive? The receiving is the giving. It’s the most genuine thing you can give back. When someone comes to hug me, I don’t have to hug them back. To receive it—you can die in that! To receive it is to die to pain, and to be born into love and laughter.” 

How are you at receiving? What are you open to receiving? 

Mantra: I am open to receiving as a form of giving.

And I am ready to receive a hug too!

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Lead By Listening

Thursday, August 2nd, 2012

After a lot of hard work, you have been made the leader of your team or your organization.  And now, as a leader, you are anxious to start performing.

First, there is a level of excitement and then the pressure is on – to not only lead, but to lead well. What lessons have you learned along the way to get here? What leaders inspired you?

At those moments there’s a natural tendency to immediately start forging ahead – after all, you are all up to speed on the organization/team, vision, plan, and now, the strategies and tactics that will be needed to move forward.

And that tendency can easily lead to believing the thought, “Since I know the way and I can just push forward, my teammates will just follow me, and they’ll figure it out.”

There is however another voice as well. It’s the voice that says, “Wait, slow down. Is everyone on team in alignment to what is happening?”

When that voice speaks, the best response is to lead by listening.

People and organizations cannot move forward without being heard. The phrase lead by listening is very important – its representative of the one thing a leader has to do before they push forward.

Alignment – of vision, of plan, of strategy, of tactics, of metrics, roles and responsibilities – all of it can only happen if we listen first.

And it is not just listening to your immediate reports – the listening has to go all the way down the line, to every employee.

Listening is not a leadership assumption, as the impatient parts of our brain may love to think.  It doesn’t happen without effort.

A leader must take the time to make this happen, the old-fashioned way – person by person, meeting by meeting, and conversation by conversation.  

A good leader listens first before becoming a teacher who prepares his or her students, and then a coach, making sure everyone is ready to move forward.

Listening is a culture that may feel new, but it is critical for visioning and taking action. What’s happening now and where do you want to go are questions leaders need to ask and listen for answers. What is the company mantra that people are saying?

Serve your organization and team by asking key questions. Serve yourself by listening to the answers.

They are ready for you to lead.

And now, so are you, as you have listened to those around you. You are really ready to move forward.

Don’t succumb to that pressure to race ahead and get a lot of tasks completed before you take time to listen.

That way, you’ll never have to look behind you as you climb upward and bring others with you.

Lead well by listening!

Mary Anne


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Another Growing Edge and Sacred Journey to Peru

Thursday, May 24th, 2012

On May 24 I fly to Peru to take part in a sacred journey. I will travel to the sacred sites of Cuzco, the Sacred Valley, Lake Titicaca, and the Crystal City of Machu Picchu. The journey is an opportunity to deepen my practices as a teacher and student of the Andean Master Path of the Inkan Cosmology. I have wanted to go for years.

My growing edge is calling me to South America. And my mind is turning up the voice of doubt. I hear my doubt voice as a constant question: “Are you sure you want to travel for 11 days on a trip that you don’t know anyone and in a country you don’t speak the native language?” Then, there is the travel within Peru itself. I will be traveling by plane, bus, and train with at least 15 strangers and staying in at least five hotels.

Maybe our growing edges are the places that call us to do more and be more. Maybe our growing edge is ready for us to reach out our arms and stretch father than we have before. Maybe our growing edge is beyond our limited mind (thinking) and calls us to listen to our unlimited heart (being).

Maybe our growing edge wakes us up to who we really are in the world. My growing edge is inviting me to be adventurous, curious, and courageous. Machu Picchu here I come!

What is your growing edge saying to you?

Mary Anne

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Lessons Learned from Uncertainty

Thursday, May 17th, 2012

I have been listening to the message of uncertainty lately. There is some uncertainty about some of my projects ending and where to grow in the next phase of my business. I have noticed that when I am in my head, I want immediate answers. And when I am in my heart, I allow the universe to show me where to go next. Blazing the next trail requires me to align my head and heart in both the knowing and unknowing parts of  life.

And as always happens when I am open and willing to listen (without solving), the universe provides more clarity and a message. This time it came through my friend’s, Joe Monkman, blog post. He wrote this week:

“Are you open to believing that the next step awaits? Are you open to knowing that the path you have chosen is absolutely in line with your highest good? Are you open to continuing to forge what may seem to you and others to be an unusual path?

The unusual is calling. The extraordinary is beckoning. The road less traveled awaits.”

Yes, the unusual is calling me. I am certain of my uncertainty and open to seeing the next step that awaits. The road of more joy, growing edges, and bliss awaits me – for that I am certain!

Mary Anne

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Befriending Ourselves – Again

Tuesday, March 27th, 2012

As we enter a new season here on the East Coast, I am reminded of all the new growth that is (always) possible. It’s a season of renewal and new life emerging from the earth. I catch myself in awe of the beauty of Spring and its bursting of colors. Perhaps because it seems earlier than usual, the trees and flowers look brighter. I find myself asking, “Was that magnolia always that pink?” And I have found myself befriending Spring. What or who else is there to befriend? 

I want to emerge from the earth the way the flowers do – slowly, effortlessly, and with joy. To emerge, I must befriend myself. But how? In her book, I Will Not Die an Unlived Life, Dawna Markova speaks about personal renewal and living with purpose. She writes about entering the abyss and entering life with wholeheartedness. One of Markova’s paragraphs spoke powerfully to me: 

So many of us are afraid of meeting ourselves, alone, without distraction. We have been taught to fashion an image of who we think we are supposed to be and show that to the world. Through the fear of knowing who we really are we sidestep our own destiny, which leaves us hungry in a famine of our own making. Each of us is here to give something that only we can offer, and when we avoid knowing ourselves, we end up living numb, passionless lives, disconnected from our soul’s true purpose. But when you have the courage to shape your life from the essence of who you are, you ignite, becoming truly alive. This requires letting go of everything that is inauthentic. But how can you know your truth unless you slow down, in your own quiet company?

How can I befriend myself like I am this Spring season?

Yours in friendship, Mary Anne

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Life Is Speaking, Are You Listening?

Thursday, November 4th, 2010

“You cannot truly listen to anyone and do anything else at the same time.” –M. Scott Peck

As I stood in the subway car, a lady started talking to me and I realized after a few moments I had stopped listening. She was complaining about the delays and it seemed like she would never stop talking. By the time I reached my office, I realized I heard what she was saying, but not really listening to what she was saying.

There are days when listening seems more difficult – due to the noises outside and all the chatter going on inside. Some of my best listening happens when I am using my whole body – when I can let go of any response of what I need to say and just listen.

As Peter Senge says, “To listen fully means to pay close attention to what is being said beneath the words. You listen not only to the ‘music,’ but to the essence of the person speaking. You listen not only for what someone knows, but for what he or she is. Ears operate at the speed of sound, which is far slower than the speed of light the eyes take in. Generative listening is the art of developing deeper silences in yourself, so you can slow our mind’s hearing to your ears’ natural speed, and hear beneath the words to their meaning.”

When we are truly listening, we become present to all that is around us. Noise can transform into sounds. Listening requires us to pay attention and gives us the ability to have greater focus. Are you willing to listen below the noises?

Practice: Close your eyes and listen to the sounds surrounding you. Can you hear the leaves, the birds, or a sunrise? What is your heart saying?

And remember the advice of Native American seers: speak only half as much as you listen.

Life is speaking, are you listening?

Mary Anne

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