THE LISTENING SEED
The student of a master gongfu tea master, upon asking why his master’s tea consistently tasted better than his own, always got the same answer: “I just love tea.”
This sounds like a story from the ancient Chinese text, the Zhuangzi, but it’s actually a true account shared with now tea master, Wu De, in his recent article published in the June 2017 Global Tea Hut Tea & Tao Magazine. In it, Wu De writes about the noticeable difference in the taste of tea brewed in antique pots, using antique cups and antique utensils, as opposed to using modern tea ware.
“When you love tea, you love the vessel it’s prepared in, and you know that after you’ve created the [tea ware] piece, some tea lover will take it home and appreciate it as you have, as much for its beauty as for its ability to improve his or her tea.”
This is such an eloquent way of explaining “Do what you love.”
When you do what you love, it not only brings you joy and fulfillment, it makes you intrinsically good at it.
View, Georgia O'Keeffe's beloved Ghost Ranch, photograph by Brea Fisher
I studied with a healer who became a mentor of mine for several years and she used to tell me, “You at your worst is better than someone else at their best.” This used to comfort me when I lacked self-confidence, but my understanding of what she meant took years to fully comprehend.
At their most basic, her words spoke of the potency of the techniques she taught me. Beyond that, she was really referring to Love.
The more you love what you do, the better you are at it.
Or, perhaps it’s better stated this way:
The more you cultivate a loving relationship with that which you engage yourself, the more available you make yourself to the power of that Love to instill in you an excellence in whatever practice you do.
Remember that time your friend made you dinner and even though it was just a simple rice and vegetable dish, you couldn’t get over how good it tasted? You had to ask— what was the secret ingredient?— and they told you: Love.
If you see everything as energy, this answer is totally acceptable. And even if you’re more physically oriented, it has a reasonable explanation.
When you find something you love to do, you tend to do it often, and all that practice makes you really good at it.
So maybe your friend loves to cook. Or maybe she loves to make that particular dish. Perhaps she loves making meals for friends. Or maybe it’s a combination of all those. The end result is that you can taste her love. And love tastes damn good.
Witnessing someone doing what they love is an experience that is more enjoyable than seeing someone do it who feels just so-so about it— and it’s way more fun than seeing it be done by someone who doesn’t like doing it at all.
The more you love to do something, the more others love to witness you doing it.
This qigong form is called Breathing from the Heart. It’s a form that uses the body to rebalance the give and receive flows. It’s very beneficial for those who tend to give more than they receive, but it’s also a really good way to use the body to tap into the love you have to share with the world.
When you move through this form, imagine opening your heart and allowing your Love to flow beautifully from you.
To equalize yourself from there, and to help you experience the love others have to give, use the palms to gather back into your heart.
I usually have these free mini lesson films ready to go for you with narration and form notes on the screen, but this is one I’m working on for my upcoming Lesson Film Subscription Series, so stay tuned for the full-length version.
I encourage you to follow along, and if you do, here are some form notes that will assist you in the movement:
Breathing from the Heart to Balance the Give and Receive Flow
1. Begin with feet parallel, anywhere from hip- to beyond shoulder-distance, knees soft, spine straight, shoulders relaxed, and the tongue touching the palate.
2. Inhale, lift palms to middle dantien (heart center) level, turning them inward gradually; arc them as the arms open and the elbows draw earthward.
3. Exhale, lift the chest and the chin as the palms draw toward the earth, skyward facing, knees extended.
4. Inhale, bending the knees, draw the palms back up and around to face each other at the level of upper dantien (brow center); the chin drops to level.
5. Exhale, turning the palms earthward as you draw down the front on the body, extend the knees and end with palms at lower dantien level (2" below navel).
6. Repeat at least 3 times, ideally 9 times, and 36 times if you really need a self care treatment.
When someone finds joy, fulfillment, or peace from seeing you do that loved thing you do, they are actually receiving a transmission of your love, which is why it feels so good.
Doing what you love is actually a loving act for others.
It not only boosts your heart, it brightens anyone who witnesses you, and therefore lifts us all. When you do what you love you radiate Love to all those involved.
Where have you experienced the feeling of witnessing someone else’s love of their art? I’m so interested to hear about it. And, if you know someone who could use some encouragement to keep doing that thing they love, please forward this along their way. I’d love it.
I was listening to an NPR news broadcast the other day and the reporter was talking about how, now that the high intensity moments have for the most part passed, and the adrenaline has decreased, people in Houston and the other flooded areas impacted by Hurricane Harvey are just beginning to realize that the everyday things still need to be addressed amidst the backdrop of catastrophe— things like the phone bill, paying rent, “the day-to-day minutiae of normal life.”
Hearing that those dealing with the aftermath of the hurricane are beginning to remember that they have regular daily-life obligations and responsibilities really brings it home that this could happen to anyone, and that we all need to do whatever we can to help.
So maybe you’ve donated to the Red Cross, or maybe you’ve committed to daily mediations or prayers for those affected by the damage. Maybe you’re there, in Texas, giving on-site aid work.
Hearing stories of others who are suffering can bring up a lot for those standing witness. When you’re not the one in the thick of it, whether that it is a national state of emergency or just someone else’s really bad day, there are a number of ways you can help.
Our hearts go out to those suffering, we wonder how to help, maybe we take action to do so, but it’s also common to feel a sense of relief— relief that it’s not happening to you.
This is an uncomfortable thing to talk about, this relief that it’s you and not me.
I certainly have a hard time writing about it in a way that makes me feel like I’m not being completely insensitive when others are in pain, trauma, and distress. Our culture wants us to believe that in order be good, righteous citizens, we need to cloak ourselves in an empathy that equalizes us out with those suffering.
If “I feel your pain” is what society says we are supposed to say, then “I’m grateful not to be in pain myself” is what we are taught is the response of someone selfish, self-centered, and insensitive.
But here’s a different perspective:
What if feeling grateful it’s not you is actually a very loving, heart-centered, helpful state to embrace when watching someone navigate difficulty?
Hang with me here, I know this seems backward.
The thing is, it’s a natural response as humans to see something undesirable— anything undesirable, whether in another’s experience or in our own— and to feel a magnetic repulsion to it. In other words, when we see or experience something we don’t want, something that makes us feel bad, everything in our beings say, “No, thank you, please; I’ll take not that.”
So what do you do with that? Say your friend needs surgery, or is going through a breakup, or having a particularly challenging year in general— whatever the degree of trouble it may be. Chances are, your responses would be something along the lines of, “Oh no. That’s not good. I’m so sorry. What can I do?”
But laced into those words, which we may mean whole-heartedly, may be an underlying sense of gratitude to not be in that same situation as they are.
The truth of the whole life thing is that when one of us goes through difficulty, we all feel it.
Photograph by Brea Fisher
If everything is made of energy and that energy is vibration, then we are all just vibrating clumps of qi singing subtle rhythms around each other. And vibrations that come near each other will meet, making resonant or dissonant frequencies when they do.
So if your friend is all stressed out because she’s working two jobs and still unable to pay her bills, that stressy frequency is bumping into your vibration and putting a new beat in its flow.
If it’s true that everyone’s qi is always affecting everyone else’s qi, then holding space in the energy of gratitude is actually standing as a beacon for those who currently cannot take that post because they are in the thick of something dense.
The hurricane in Texas, the monsoon flooding in Bangladesh, India, and Nepal, the wildfires in Oregon, Montana, and Idaho— the other, innumerable ways in which the world is in turmoil right now--
What can you do to help?
You can feel grateful.
Counting your blessings while others are suffering is not a selfish act.
Counting your blessings while others are suffering is an act of compassion.
Counting your blessings makes everyone richer.
When you count your blessings you put to the forefront of your awareness all the reasons why life is beautiful, good, and worth living. Going into gratitude changes your energy field and you instantly begin to throb out a higher quality of vibration. And this new, brighter, finer vibration affects the collective frequency of the whole.
When you're in a habit of counting your blessings and you’re appreciating that your body is working well, that your life is rolling along, that you’ve got a home and friends and people who support you, those points of gratitude all do something huge: they make space for you to actually go out into the world and do something to help your fellows.
Counting your blessings inspires you to get up and take action toward helping others in situations less fortunate than your own.
There are those who are in great pain, difficulty, and turmoil right now. The people in Houston whose houses have been flooded, whose cars have been washed away, whose loved ones are missing— these are your global neighbors.
The next time you hear about someone in trouble and you think, What can I do to help?, you can begin by counting your blessings.
And do it without a trace of guilt about having while others have not. Life is ever in flux. You may be down when they are next up.
Make counting your blessings a sacred act— consecrate it as a practice of service.
And then see what you feel inspired to do out in the physical world, to help further, from that place.
Let yourself feel grateful for your blessings when others are experiencing hardship. Don’t make yourself wrong for the subconscious “I’m glad it’s not me” response. Recognize that it could be you, and realize that when you’re vibrating out a frequency of appreciation, you’re far more likely to be inspired to take action and get out there to help others in other, more concrete ways, also.
Celebrating that it’s not you this time, is actually being true to the natural response of your spirit— to be grateful.
Did you like this article? If so, I’d love to hear it and I would be so very grateful if you shared The Listening Seed with a friend.