These winter days of high winds, frigid temperatures, and ice everywhere are conducive for getting cozy and quiet. Combine the weather with the spread of COVID (or the potential spread) and hunkering down has new meaning and creates the space for deep listening.

Cathy Arnault “listening” while on retreat

“The quieter you become, the more you can hear”. – Ram Dass

The ways we can listen are endless. In yoga we reference listening to the physical body for comfort and safety. Moving from the physical to the subtle and metaphysical, we can hone our listening to include the breath, the desires and intentions of the heart, the inner calling of our spirit or soul, and to listen to our spirit guides, angels and/or our creator. My friend and listening circle host Jane Bernhardt sometimes encourages us to ‘listen to the lover of your soul’.

When we center before a yoga class, this kind of listening is often found to be accessible and helpful as we transition into our yoga space; it is a taste of deeper listening.

“Listen to everything with your heart – EVERYTHING – and be still with it before acting on what you feel”. – Mark Nepo

So how do we foster deep listening? I suppose the quick answer is we make time for it. We give ourselves the space and unstructured time without other distractions. We set aside our calendars, our devices, and our commitments to just BE. I am finally making this more of a priority in my schedule… and it isn’t easy.
For anyone who heard my story of the Cherokee Native Americans in class a few weeks ago regarding the wolves, think about this kind of listening as a way to feed the good wolf*. If you didn’t hear the story, a brief excerpt is below. While still a novice in my efforts to listen, I can tell you that it brings a sense of calm and well-being for me. Like meditation, the effects are immediate. Whatever you choose for your “Wintering” moments, I wish you deep peace and many quiet moments.

Here is my short list of ways to practice. See which ones work for you!
Time in nature: listen to water; the raindrops, ocean waves, or lakes and streams (when not frozen); listen to the wind as it moves across open spaces and in the trees. Listen to the animals and birds; listen to the silence of snow fall.
Turn off stimulation: I love podcasts and my audible books, but sometimes it really is nice to turn of all sounds while at home or in the car. The house can be so quiet that the sound of the refrigerator motor breaks my reverie.
Bring a question and listen for the answer: the answers don’t always come for me, but somehow just offering my deep questions to the universe helps me to feel a bit lighter.
Listen to your loved ones: Pay attention and listen to understand without formulating your response.
Listening Circles and/or Recorded Meditations: Subscribe to Jane’s Youtube channel for beautiful beginnings to meditation or for your listening pleasure. Check it out here and consider the listening circle:

*Cherokee Story: The story of the two wolves is an ancient tale that has been a part of the Native American tradition for generations. Although the exact two wolves story origin is unknown, historians typically attribute the tale to the Cherokee or the Lenape people. The story of the two wolves also has several alternative titles, including “The Wolves Within,” “Which One Do You Feed?”, “Grandfather Tells” and “The Tale of Two Wolves.”

The story features two characters: a grandfather and his grandson. The grandfather explains to his grandson that there are two wolves fighting within him, which is an image that serves as a metaphor for the man’s inner sense of conflict. The conversation between the two men goes like this:
“I have a fight going on in me,” the old man said. “It’s taking place between two wolves. One is evil – he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.”
The grandfather looked at the grandson and went on. “The other embodies positive emotions. He is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. Both wolves are fighting to the death. The same fight is going on inside you and every other person, too.”
The grandson took a moment to reflect on this. At last, he looked up at his grandfather and asked, “Which wolf will win?”
The old Cherokee gave a simple reply. “The one you feed.” Credit to Clarity Clinic for this story: