Spiritual Insight

Learning to Listen

Spiritual Guidance is always available. We need only make ourselves available to hear it.

When I was a little girl I knew who I was and why I had come. I felt as if I had access to all the answers, that I could tap into something in the Universe and find out anything. I was ready to tell the world all that I knew, or thought I knew. I was spunky and outgoing and was not afraid to talk to anyone.

When I was five years old I looked forward to going to school, to share more of my wisdom. There is no memory of fear as I boarded the big yellow school bus that would take me to the parochial school located outside the small town where I was born. I loved my yellow vinyl book bag with the felt ducks on the side. I felt proud in my rust colored jumper with the white collar, my white knee high socks and my new brown mary jane shoes.

My good friend, Dennis, was in my class and we were happy to lay out our braided rugs at naptime right next to each others. You see Dennis was a little boy with a lot of questions, and I was a little girl with a lot of answers. So it was a wonderful friendship and we had a lot to talk about.

But I remember the moment that everything changed for me. I remember the moment that I lost my desire to share. I remember the moment I became quiet and shy for I remember the moment the teacher walked across the room, opened the top drawer in that big oak desk and took out a roll of masking tape and a pair of scissors.

Then she marched over to me and my friend, Dennis, and she taped our mouths shut.

That moment stands out clearly in my mind to this day. In that moment as she covered my mouth with that thick, sticky tape, I felt something saying to me, “No one wants to hear what you have to say. So be quiet.”

And for the next 30 years I felt that message inside me every time I tried to speak. When I would feel some wisdom rising to the surface, I would push it back down. Every time I thought I knew something that no one else seemed to be mentioning in a class, I would hear those words and those words kept me quiet. Every time a teacher asked a question, I remembered no one wanted to hear what I had to say. And I remained silent.

Many times I felt like I wanted to explode. There was something inside me that wanted out. There were answers that no one else said, and I wanted to scream from the rooftops what seemed so obvious to me but that no one else seemed to notice. But I remembered the message and in a very short time I became painfully shy. I was afraid to open my mouth.

As a result I spent a lot of time listening. I listened to everyone. I listened well. I took things in and contemplated what I might have said, if I had the nerve. I allowed philosophies and ideas to flow through me, sometimes speaking for hours, as I stood at my bathroom mirror safe behind a closed door. I listened as I spoke, and sometimes was amazed at what I knew.

I didn’t know how I knew it, but words flowed and I learned a lot listening to what I now know is spirit being channeled through me. But I was just a girl. As that girl in grade school I spoke out passionately in my bathroom on pollution, our depleting resources, and the need to conserve. I talked to my mirrored audience on the meaning of life, on death, on our soul’s journey. And I talked about the need for everyone to be heard. As I grew up I learned a lot in front of that bathroom mirror.

After growing up and having children of my own, I began to have mystical experiences that led me to take new kinds of classes. I was enrolling in anything that would help me understand the psychic impressions I was having, and anything that would help me develop the part of me that still wanted to express something.

Thirty years after kindergarten I was sitting in a class at a new thought church. I felt just as shy and reserved as I did the day after the tape was put on my mouth. But the frustration inside me was so great that I knew it was time to say something. And I was finding that although there were more than fifty people in the class, on most subjects there was no voice for the thoughts and insights I was having inside. I felt determined that this class was going to mark a turning point for me and I would find the courage to share some of my thoughts.

Each day that I came to class I was determined to make that the day I would speak. Many times I began to raise my hand, but it remained in the air for such a brief time, the teacher never noticed. As the weeks rolled along the teacher stopped looking in my direction altogether and I blended into the background.

One day in the hall during a break the teacher’s assistant walked right up to me. She was an older woman who had ministered for many years and now assisted some of the newer ministers and teachers. She looked me in the eye and said, “You have to get it out. You have something in you that has to get out, I can tell. You have to do it.”

I felt teary eyed already that I was unable to let my hand be seen. I was disgusted with myself that I had been too afraid to share. I had told myself I had to, yet I once again slinked out of the room without saying a word. This wise woman reminded me of my own grandmother, and I didn’t like to think I was letting her down, too.

“I know.” was all I could say to her. My eyes were looking at the floor for I felt ashamed to look at her.

“Do it. Do it today. You have to.”

She knew it and so did I. I had to speak.

We marched back into class and with her eagle eyes watching me, I finally managed to raise my hand. She pointed out my raised hand to the teacher before I could put it back down, so I had no way out. And I did it. I offered a new viewpoint on an old topic. It wasn’t much, I don’t remember what I said, but I remember the look on the assistant’s face more than anything. She was relieved. And so was I.

In the following weeks I found a healing place to really let my voice be heard. I attended “Speaking Circles,” a wonderful place to learn to speak, something Lee Glickstein has taken and shared around the world. In his ‘speaking circles,’ one learns that listening is the most important part of speaking.

I was thrilled! I already was an expert on listening. Lee taught us to stand in front of people, to take a breath and to remain there, present, looking at others, and taking it all in. He stressed the importance on listening and to not think about what you’ll say, but to just be present.

At my very first speaking circle, I went to the front of the room, took a deep breath and looked into the eyes of everyone there. One at a time, i just breathed and looked into their eyes. Then I opened my mouth and let whatever wanted to come out, out.

And amazingly what came out was a story about when I was a little girl and the teacher put masking tape on my mouth. But at the end of the story, as I stood in front of everyone, taking breaths and taking my time, I found my body had relaxed completely and words were flowing like they did in my bathroom long ago. I was enjoying my audience. I could hear them as I listened. I could hear spirit and a new ending wanted to emerge to the old story. As I spoke I heard myself say that the kindergarten teacher had been one of my angels. For the real message was, “Shhh. Be still. Listen. It’s not time yet…”

For in that speaking circle, suddenly the time to speak was upon me, and I knew I would always know what to say, because I had learned to listen first.

What needs to be said will come through. And always I listen first before I speak. I listen to my clients, I listen to spirit and I wait until the words come into my mind, I hear them and then I say them. I listen first, speak later.

At the end of the class at the new thought church we were asked to demonstrate something we had learned, to show the class what we had gained as a direct result of the class. I stood in front of all fifty of my fellow students and demonstrated what happened in kindergarten. I told the story and covered my mouth with the tape. I then looked into all those eyes, with the tape in place. And I listened. I listened to their thoughts and I listened to Spirit. Then I ripped the tape off and let them know it was off for good.

Tears rolled down my classmates faces and they cheered for me. I had used a bottle of sparkling cider to demonstrate how I felt. I shook the bottle up to show the pressure that had built up inside me, then I popped the top off and we poured it round and celebrated my new freedom.

All those years I endured of painful silence, I was learning some of the most important lessons of being a spiritual teacher – to be able to remain silent, to know how to be still and to know how to really listen. In the silence we hear the truth. In the stillness we can know spirit and when we listen we hear what isn’t said, and we will hear for certain what needs to be said.

What happens in our lives happens for us, not to us. We must learn to see everything as an opportunity for spiritual growth. Those who seem like enemies, who seem to want to bring you down are present in your life to help you grow. Take an old story and find a new ending. See what you have learned and what you have gained in every life experience.

Through my own life experiences I have become who I am meant to be. Because of my kindergarten angel, I have learned to be careful and to listen before I speak. Sometimes I make a mistake, and speak before I think. Sometimes my words come from my ego or my fears, and I remember the lessons of my younger years. Then I go back inside and think about what really needed to be said. I go back to the bathroom mirror and find the truth that wants to come through me.

In your life, find the truth that lives inside of you. Listen carefully. Listen before you speak. Be sure it is the right thing to say. For it is in the listening that you will know the truth. And we must all be comfortable in our silence.

When you find your truth, then share your voice. When you have found the wisdom that lives deep inside, then let it out, let it come through you. It’s there for you, just listen. Always listen. And then let yourself be heard.


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To contact Cat RunningElk or learn more about her classes and tours, you can visit her website here or at www.catrunningelk.com

3 thoughts on “Learning to Listen”

  1. Lee is a dear dear person— I met him when I was an active member of National Speakers Association.

    I was doing a special concert/talk for a genreal session and Lee gave me some coaching—it was invaluable. I was only on for about 10 minutes or so but the whole thing had so much more impact with his guidance and sharing. And i have used that same coaching for over 18 years.

    THe above story was wonderfull–thank you for sharing it.

    I read your book about 5 years ago. (all in one night–that is a rarlity)

    I ran into you while looking for a worker in my wellness center—I also found Reiki TUMMO that weekend–this is a deep work–not for everyone—but as I have continued to do and live the practices of Reiki TUMMO and the heart work that this is all about—my life went in such an amazing direciton—so much more than what I ever dreamed of—

    Life is sooooo good!

    be well my dear heart–

    With Love and Light


  2. You continue to grow and amaze me each and every day. I love hearing about your life even from this distance, Glad that you are sharing your gifts.


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