To live well you have to understand who you are, where you want to go/who you want to be, and how to get there. I am interested in ideas of stepping into who we want to be (becoming) and honoring who we truly are (authenticity); I am curious about the particular form of truth telling that is understanding your authentic self and moving through our intricate earth with that guidance. These ideas have been resonating with the verbs navigating and listening. In my life, my wellbeing is a practice of navigation and listening.
“I am sitting under a sycamore by Tinker Creek. I am really here, alive on the intricate earth under trees.” Annie Dillard
Listen: To Pay Attention
Adam Grant writes, “Your scarcest resource is not your time, it’s your attention. Your best work flows from paying undivided attention to the projects that matter to you. Your deepest connections come from listening with rapt attention to the people who matter to you.” The English word listen comes from the Old English hlysnan, meaning ‘pay attention to.’ When we listen, we channel our most valuable resource (our attention) and use it to extend care to those we are in relation with, and most importantly, to ourselves. When we listen to ourselves, we become capable of creating wellness in our lives, wellness that is personalized and meaningful.
Listening is about holding space for the emergence of big and beautiful things that are in alignment and come from places beyond our small selves. This sort of inner posture to the world connects us to things that are greater than our individual selves, it is a spiritual practice. It is about having our antennae on the station of authenticity. Listening is paying attention and it provides us with accurate information to formulate our movements. Listening is practicing insight and awareness – it is understanding who we are. (More on this in “Do the Work: Knowing Who You Are.”)
In order to understand the experience, insight, and data that comes from paying attention to our inner and outer worlds, we have to have the language to make sense of it all. Brené Brown writes, “Language is our portal to meaning-making, connection, healing, learning, and self-awareness. Having access to the right words can open up entire universes. When we don’t have the language to talk about what we’re experiencing, our ability to make sense of what’s happening and share it with others is severely limited.” When you listen, you are sensitive to the data telling you about your internal and external worlds. Once you are collecting data, the next step is being able to understand and interpret what it all means. Being able to transform data into knowledge requires literacy; you have to have the words to make sense or your emotions and your experiences and integrate them into your navigating.
“Our connection with others can only be as deep as our connection with ourselves. If I don’t know and understand who I am and what I need, want, and believe, I can’t share myself with you. I need to be connected to myself, in my own body, and learning what makes me work.” Brené Brown
Navigate: To Skillfully Guide
After collecting the data and using it to create information and knowledge, the next step is integrating it. Humans experience the world through our emotions – we feel the worlds and our experiences. Brené Brown talks about how our emotions and experiences are layers of biology, biography, behavior, and backstory. She says, “Every single day, our feelings and experiences show up in our bodies, they’re shaped by where we come from and how we were raised, they drive how we show up, and each feeling has its own unique backstory. Understanding these emotions and experiences is our life’s work. The more we learn, the deeper we can continue to explore.”
Navigation is all about taking the insight we gained from paying attention and understanding what we heard to accurately understand where you are and where you are going. In this way, we can understand ourselves and our worlds in deeper and deeper ways.
Maps are tools to help us in our navigation. Dr. Kirk Goldsberry talks about how “the interaction between the layers is the story of the map,” meaning that to understand the story of the map we have to see the relationships between the elements of the map. We can understand our location and where we need to go by understanding the story of the layers. Our work in our wellness journey is to understand the relationship between our biology, biography, behavior, and backstory. Brené writes, “The interaction between the layers of our emotions and experiences tells our story.” Our story is our map, it is what gives us information about place and space and gives us an orientation. When we listen to understand the pieces of ourselves, have the language to interpret it, and the map to navigate, we can connect the pieces of ourselves to understand who we are and how to be well.
When you pay attention (listen), have the competency to understand (literacy), and ability to understand where you are and where you are going (navigate), you are able to handle anything that comes your way. You don’t have to fear getting lost because you can find your way. You are able to traverse all that you are as a creature driven by insight and basking in resiliency.
“Adopt the mindset of an explorer; healing is the discovery of new spaces within you, realms that were once ignored, areas that are newly flourishing – to be able to traverse all that is you will require patience. Let your healing move organically.” Yung Pueblo