Dr. Chad Sato
Hawai‘i Herald Columnist
Playing off a line out of William Shakespeare’s Hamlet, “to be or not to be, that is the question?” How important is it to listen? Listening takes many different forms and is an admirable skill set to master, since it aids in proper communication and knowing how to respond or react appropriately. I recently held my energy healing workshop, E = Me2, where I taught my attendees different exercises to connect with their own healing energy and learn ways to listen to their body cues and use stress/tension in their bodies and lives to become more whole and well. The first exercise that I started with was a listening exercise, where I paired up people and one person shared an experience, good or bad, while their partner had to just focus and listen to them. After five to 10 minutes of sharing, the person listening paraphrased and gave their impression of what they just heard. Then they switched roles and repeated the process. Becoming good listeners allows you to not only validate the other person but to also create a connection and greater rapport with the other. Don’t we all like to be heard?
Learning to Listen
When I first started my practice 24 years ago, I was very inspired to help people become more connected to their bodies, trust themselves and to live life in the present. At the onset, I will admit I wasn’t the best at listening and had a set agenda to help them transform their lives and feel better. But after my third year, the more time I spent asking my members about what was going on in their lives and what stressors they were experiencing, opened a whole new set of awareness about how the mind, our emotions and body works. I began to recognize that a particular pain in the shoulder or low back often correlated with some challenging situation in their lives. So, for the last 21 years, I learned to become a better listener in order to ask my members the right questions that would prompt them to discover what is truly causing them to be in a state of unease or dis-ease.
Listening is Key
I feel that listening is one of the key methods to achieve increased awareness, not only for yourself, but for others as well. How often do we tune out a significant other, family member or friend when they start sharing the same problem or story repeatedly? It’s only human nature to do this, but just think if you really focused your attention on them and asked them questions about why repeating a certain story is so important to them that it might get them to deal with what happened and then be able to move on. The focus of this article is to share ways to increase your ability to listen to your physical, emotional, mental and spiritual energetic bodies in order to find more ease and harmony in your body and life.
Your body is amazing in so many ways and is constantly giving you feedback all the time. Whenever you feel your muscles tightening or a restriction in your breathing, it is your body letting you know that something doesn’t feel right. A simple quick analogy is eating something that is stale or old; you immediately spit out that piece of food. How often in the past when you were tired and started yawning instead of going to sleep you chose to drink coffee or an energy drink to keep you awake? When you are younger it is easier to override your body, but as we get older the ability to do this gets harder. Hence, we blame it on old age, when in actuality your body just gets tired of being ignored and essentially throws a tantrum so that you will listen. That is why one day during a visit at your PCP suddenly, your blood pressure is sky high or your cholesterol or sugar levels are no longer in the normal range. If you want to start listening to your body do this simple exercise when you first wake up in the morning or just before going to bed: sit quietly for a minute to three minutes and begin to pay attention to any areas of tension or areas of ease you feel in your body. Locate and identify those areas and make a mental note. Like anything in life, the more often and consistently you do this, the better you will get at listening and identifying your body’s cues. Over time you will notice when your body gets tight and when it relaxes; this awareness will help you to know when a certain situation is impacting you positively or negatively.
The best surveillance mechanism for emotions is your body’s gut. The idioms, gut instinct, are your body’s response to an emotional charge. I’ve discovered that your emotions are extremely powerful and they are simply just energy in motion or e–motion. A perfect example is when you are told to do something, an inner conflict arises and you feel that uncomfortable sensation at your solar plexus or in the pit of your stomach. This is your body communicating to you to listen to your emotions or pay attention to your gut instinct. You probably do this instinctively, but have you ever noticed that anytime you override this feeling and don’t listen to it something always goes wrong? Emotional exercise: next time you feel that knot in your stomach or it feels unsettled, and your mind is trying to convince you to do the exact opposite of what you feel, go with your gut feeling. If not, the experience alone will make quite an impression that will make you listen the next time around.
The difficulty with listening to your mind is sometimes you can convince yourself to do something you really don’t want to do. This is where trusting your intuition comes into play. Intuition is a connection with your inner knowing and with your higher self. Just learn to recognize that when your mind tries to override your intuition, all the “shoulds, ought tos, have tos, need tos, and musts” show up. All the justifications of why you must do or not do something when deep down inside you know that the opposite is true. When you decide based on your own inner knowing, you will feel balanced and equilibrated – mentally and emotionally. Mental exercise: use your breath and by learning to feel your heartbeat, will help you to build this trust. You will feel a state of ease even after dealing with a challenging situation, because your intuition guides you to do it.
I’ve discovered that spiritual listening is a combination of the physical, emotional and mental energetic bodies. When you listen to your body’s cues and are balanced mentally and emotionally, goosebumps or the hairs on your arms stand up. Serendipitous and synchronistic events occur and you feel that you are in the flow or what athletes describe as being in the zone. Putting aside your rational mind and justifications, your listening to spirit unlocks an awareness of unlimited possibilities. Spiritual exercise: begin a practice to quiet your mind by sitting quietly for at least five minutes or more each day. If sitting for a while is difficult, taking a walk in nature will help you to get grounded and centered.
The art of listening doesn’t have to be a difficult undertaking, but a worthwhile investment of your time. Listening to your body and your inner self will help you keep centered when the outside noise of fear and societal pressure gets too loud and obnoxious. Know that listening will help you stay true to yourself and over time create stronger relationships with your body and clearer communications with friends and loved ones.
Dr. Chad Sato graduated from UCLA in 1995 with a bachelor’s degree in biology and earned the Doctor of Chiropractic degree with honors from Life Chiropractic College West in 1998. Sato founded his practice, Aloha Chiropractic (drchadsato.com), in Mänoa valley, O‘ahu, on Oct. 1, 1999. He is a sought-after educator, speaker, author and mind-body specialist who helps people reach new levels of empowerment when it comes to their health and wellness by staying present with their body signs, making appropriate life choices and utilizing stress instead of managing it.