by Sonia Choquette –
When my mother was a young woman, she suffered a severe case of rheumatic fever that caused her to gradually lose her hearing in both ears. By the time I was born, the loss was pronounced, so I grew up with a mom who was nearly deaf. She took it all in stride and used to tell us, “It’s not a problem for me because Divine Spirit gives us two ways to listen-with our ears and, more important, with our heart.” In my family, the second approach was emphasized. “It’s interesting,” my mother would say, “that when you use your heart, your ears work better, too.”
My mom’s lesson gave us a six-sensory perspective from our earliest years. It influenced how we took in information and helped us become aware of not only the content of a message, but its intent or essence as well. I learned to listen from my heart both by noticing how my mother tuned in to her own inner guidance, and by experiencing her great attention to what I had to say. Although she struggled at times to discern my words, I always knew that she was keenly interested in understanding me. In short, I felt heard.
Sometimes when we talked to my mom, she closed her eyes and energetically sensed our communication. Her heart-based orientation opened pathways between all my family members-one that conveyed connection and meaning that mere speech failed to register. This channel was open even when we said nothing . . . it was as though our dialogue had moved up an octave and we conversed on a purer, telepathic level.
Inner knowing is actually the art and practice of listening with the heart, for that’s where the voice of higher wisdom speaks. I believe that we all start out in life attuned to this source. Just reflect on kids’ acute perception and natural ability to absorb whatever comes their way-both content and intent-in its entirety. They pick up absolutely everything that’s “in the air.” In fact, I’ve seen them register the truth of a situation, whether good or bad, faster than the adults around them. And babies naturally relax around people who are at ease with them, while they fuss or scream at those who may smile and coo but are really uncomfortable or afraid. Infants feel the difference in their hearts.
I recall that when I was about five years old, I came home from kindergarten one day and was filled with a strong sense of dread and sadness. I worried and wondered what was wrong. Even though there were no obvious signs of trouble, my heart felt something wasn’t quite right.
That evening, my grandmother, who lived with us, had a stroke in the backyard. I’ll never forget that when the ambulance came to get her, I wasn’t surprised. I’d felt that something was about to happen, even though I wasn’t sure what! Now I realized that it was about Grandma. I don’t know whether she or my parents were aware that she was ill, or if her stroke was a shock for them, but I do know that my vibes had warned me.
Our inner source of wisdom is centered in the heart and offers us a broader, deeper perspective and understanding. It brings our attention to the unseen, subtle aspects of life and directs us toward a more creative, loving, and insightful approach to difficulties.
We all feel heart-based connections from time to time because it’s our nature to do so. The problems arise when we tune out or doubt this awareness and surrender to the world of outside appearances and opinions instead.
Many people fear having a point of view that’s different from others’. Therefore, even when their heart gives them clear guidance, they’ll often discount or ignore its message. For example, my husband used to amuse himself by playing a goofy game he made up called “10:15.” When Patrick went to parties, he’d ask other guests, “What time do you have?” No matter what they answered, he’d reply, “That’s funny . . . my watch says it’s 10:15.” Then he’d observe how many of them would question the accuracy of their own watches before doubting his. Sometimes the number was as high as 80 percent! It just goes to show how easily we can be thrown into uncertainty, believing that someone else knows better.
Children are especially vulnerable to losing their faith in themselves unless you teach them otherwise. They need to learn from you that it’s important to tune in to and trust their inner guidance and not be afraid to express what they feel-even if it contradicts what others tell them. When you show kids how to listen to their hearts and honor what they know, you affirm their intuition.
My daughter Sabrina is a naturally spontaneous girl when it comes to following her vibes because we’ve always encouraged her to do so. She never hesitates to communicate her feelings. When she was only three years old, she attended preschool; and one time when I went to pick her up, her teacher shared this story about what had happened that day: Ms. Agnes thought that her young students were being difficult and unruly, and she was having a hard time being patient with them. Finally, she sent the entire class to the corner to take a “time-out.” There they sat, hanging their heads in shame for several minutes, when suddenly Sabrina whispered something to them. They all nodded in silent, enthusiastic agreement.
A moment later, Sabrina stood up, very gently tiptoed over to the teacher’s desk, and quietly said,
“Ms. Agnes, I’m worried about you. We’re all feeling fine in the corner. Would you like to sit with us over there until you feel better, too?”
Sabrina smiled meekly and then tiptoed back to her corner and sat down once again. Her teacher burst out laughing, feeling as though she’d been caught. She ended the children’s time-out and took a break herself.
Ms. Agnes told me that the truth was that the kids hadn’t misbehaved more than usual. In fact, she was the one who had been out of balance. She’d had a big disagreement with her husband that morning and was still agitated when she arrived at school. In spite of her efforts to get on with the day, the argument continued to bother her and made her very cranky. She admitted that Sabrina had been right in sensing that it was her teacher who needed to feel better and that the preschoolers weren’t the problem. She also said that she admired Sabrina’s awareness and courage in expressing herself.
It’s important to understand that children naturally listen with their hearts. As parents, we need to follow their good example and affirm for them how intuitive this is, even if the rest of the world has forgotten how to do so.
If kids aren’t censured or subjected to an environment in which inner awareness is discouraged-and if they’re allowed to feel and freely share their deepest emotions-they’ll establish an extremely solid connection to their higher wisdom. They’ll remain conscious of the vital messages of their sixth sense and look to their hearts for verification.
It Begins with Listening
Learning to listen with the heart begins with training yourself to focus on what someone’s trying to communicate. I recently tuned in to a radio program that reported that most people hear only 50 percent of what’s said, and retain just 20 percent of that information for more than an hour. I wonder what percentage of true attention parents have available for their children.
Real listening means just that-it’s not interrupting, fixing, solving, cutting off, or shutting down your kids before they fully express what they have to say. Don’t let impatience cause you to start speaking before they’re finished, for the great majority of all problems in relationships (including the one with your own intuition) stem from someone’s feeling of not being heard.
When your children are upset or angry, or simply need to share something with you, practice giving them your full attention.. If they’re squabbling with their siblings, listen to each individual, one at a time. Make a rule in your home that when people are mad or need to speak, they can talk about everything that’s bothering them, without censorship or interruption, on the condition that they use a calm tone of voice. They shouldn’t be allowed to scream or insult anyone while expressing their problem. This doesn’t mean that you must always agree with what they say, but you do need to care enough to allow your children to openly communicate their feelings.
I realize that it can be very hard to listen sometimes, especially if you’re overtired or in a hurry. Unfortunately, these are usually the moments your kids will approach you. Because it’s often inconvenient or even impossible to truly pay attention when you’re feeling harried, agree with them in advance on a regular time-perhaps just before bed-when you’ll actively concentrate on what they want to tell you. Then honor that commitment. Pick the best and most realistic time of day, when you can be completely present and won’t be uninterrupted.
Establishing this routine takes great effort and patience, but it’s highly worthwhile and is a terrific catalyst for awakening intuition. In order to become balanced and grounded, we all need to get in touch with and express our feelings-including anger-and be heard. This ritual will clear the air, keep you attuned to your inner voice and your kids’ true needs, and help build the basis for a solid relationship with your own “Inner Teacher.”
excerpt from ‘Intuitive Spark’