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Posts Tagged ‘Listening’

Are You Taking Up a Seat?

Monday, May 17th, 2010

I have noticed more and more people sitting and taking up two seats on the subway. Most seem oblivious to the fact that they are stretched out while others are crammed into a subway car. I, like many others, have approached these folks to politely ask to sit down.  There are folks who take up only one seat and are just as oblivious. While sitting at baseball games I have seen a lot of folks in very expensive seats who are busy texting, emailing, and some even leaving for two innings or more.

These experiences led me to start thinking about all the times we take up a seat in life. What we do while in our seat, how we offer others our seat, and what we contribute while in that seat is what really matters. What will you do with your chance to sit in that seat? What value do you want to offer others – even when it is difficult – even when your voice is the opposite one of what is being said? How many meetings, conventions, or events do you want to attend and not offer anything to the conversation?

How many times have I taken up a seat and have not been present to the conversation or what is happening around me? Next time I take up a seat, what will my contribution be?

Is that seat taken?
Mary Anne

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The Power of Silence

Tuesday, May 4th, 2010

George Prochnik wrote an editorial in the New York Times entitled Now Don’t Hear This. The editorial shared that last Wednesday was International Noise Awareness Day and that in New York a grass roots organization has been educating people about the harmful effects of noise for more than 15 years. The author said that perhaps it’s not noise awareness we need, but silence awareness. We already know the consequences of constant noise to our health – physically, emotionally and psychologically.

Rather than just talk about the negative effects of noise, we can spend time educating people on the positive effects of silence. Many meditation practitioners have shared that silent meditation increases their ability to concentrate. The editorial reveals that teachers who introduce silence into their classrooms said it fosters learning. And even hospitals that have “quiet zones” received validation in recent studies linking silence and healing.

What would happen if we would take time out in our day to be quiet? Perhaps we would discover more quiet within. We might even discover some powerful listening techniques we never had before. In a society filled with loud sounds of cars, sirens, planes or even the constant hum and buzz of computers, we could think about how to experience more silence. As Prochnik says, “Even a little bit of silence can create a sense of connection with our environment that diminishes alienation, and prompts a desire to discover more quiet.”

How do you want to create more silence in your life?

Here is to connecting through silence,
Mary Anne

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My MTA Mystical Moment

Thursday, May 7th, 2009

NYC subway
NYC subway

Just when you think you have experienced everything on the NYC subway system, you wake up and realize that new experiences are there waiting for you. Last week, I took the G train to Brooklyn and realized in my almost 20 years in NYC, I had never taken the G train before. I felt like a little kid taking a ride and felt excitement come over me as I discovered new parts of the city.

I wasn’t always open to new subway moments. As a matter of fact, I have had my share (like most New Yorkers) of MTA frustrations, announcements, delays, and cancelled services. Throughout my years taking the MTA subway into Manhattan from the Bronx, I have been delayed by hours due to sick passengers, kicked off the train for unknown reasons, asked to exit through all the cars because of a fire, and left stranded at East 180th Street.

For many years, I had subway anxiety. I worried about getting to work late and panicked when the train was delayed for “traffic ahead.” Having to stand for an hour on the subway also caused a lot of distress. I decided to travel with a good book and iPod to help get me through my ride with more ease. I would tune out the announcements and concentrate on reading and listening to my favorite music or podcasts.

This past week, I had an amazing MTA mystical moment. I was listening to the Oprah-Spirit Channel Podcast – that alone is a mystical moment. I had downloaded a few podcasts that expand my thinking and spark my creativity. On this particular morning, I was listening to an interview with Oprah and Daniel Pink (his book A Whole New Mind is amazing). In the background, the conductor was making announcements about delays. At first I ignored them, but then our train stopped for at least 5 minutes, and the announcement came again, “We are sorry for the delay. There is a police investigation up ahead. As soon as we receive clearance, we will proceed.” Passengers started mumbling, cursing, and rolling their eyes at the announcement.

I thought, ‘I can handle a small delay.’ Then, there was another announcement about the delay. I made my iPod louder to block it. Finally, after the third announcement, the words “police investigation ahead” echoed in the background. I took a breath, closed my eyes, and became still in the midst of a crowded subway car. In that quiet space, I could hear a soft voice inside repeating the words, investigation, investigation, investigation. And the moment came when my mind allowed the questions to come in and I could hear myself ask, “What needs investigation in your life right now? In what areas do you need to investigate?”

I let the questions float without answering them. I began to see a screen of areas in my life that need further exploration. I started my morning by experiencing the delay as an opportunity to investigate parts of my work, relationships, and dreams.

The delay taught me the lesson of slowing down and not rushing from thing to thing. Am I in a rush or is my mind in a rush? Looking for the bigger picture in the smaller moments can be some of the greatest gifts – even with a half hour delay due to a police investigation. I am grateful to the MTA for giving me the mystical moment to slow down and investigate my life. What a beautiful way to start the day! Perfect!

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Posted in Coaching, Learning, Life, Toning the OM | 4 Comments »

Doing Our Work – One Thought at a Time

Saturday, April 18th, 2009

Recently, I read that we have as many as 65, 000 thoughts a day. Imagine if you caught just one thought and held on to it for a moment. What would the thought say? Whatever it is, it is just a thought. No more and no less – until we give it meaning.

I realized how neutral thoughts are after spending a weekend doing The Work with Byron Katie in New York City with over 3oo hundred people. We had the opportunity to inquire deeper about our thoughts after asking four simple and profound questions.

“Is it True?” (Answer with a yes or no only)

“Can you absolutely know that it is true?” (Answer yes or no only)

“How do you react, what happens, when you believe that thought?”

“Who would you be without the thought?”

Following the four questions is the Turn Around Statement. “Each turnaround is an opportunity to experience the opposite of your original statement and see what you and the person you’ve judged have in common.” (http://www.thework.com)

Throughout the weekend with Katie, I often sat at the edge of my seat, smiling, laughing, crying, sighing, and at moments holding my breath as people told their personal story. Everyone’s story became my story because there was a lesson about a thought I believed about myself that holds me back. As Katie says, “Listen for what we believe along the way that prevents us from living now.” Katie walked participants through The Work – one thought at a time.

We talked about what happens when we react to our thoughts about infidelity, lies, guilt, and even global torture. Katie challenged us to go beyond what others do to us and ask what we do to ourselves with our thoughts. When are we unfaithful to ourselves? What lies have we told ourselves? Where do we wrong others and torture others in our life? Once I believe something terrible about somebody else and it hurts me, and the hurt makes it true – that is my work. As Katie says, “Once I believe the thought, I become responsible.”

During lunch, Katie sat at a table to sign her books. (I love book signings!) As I stood on line waiting, I wondered what I could possibly say to this amazing teacher. When it was my turn, I opened up her book on the table, and in a soft whisper said, “Thank you.” In Katie style, she looked up, held my hand, and said, “Oh, honey, thank you.” Her beautiful crystal blue eyes stared into mine. I leaned in and said, “I am free.” Her eyes and mine both filled with tears as we stood for a moment in silence. Katie, holding my hand tighter, said, “I love you. I love that you are free.” A soft still moment followed by a big deep breath.

Exhale. I am free – one thought at a time.

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