Most of what I've written here, I recently shared in my monthly note with my insider crew – my subscribers. About once a month, I send a personal note about what I'm thinking about and working on. This note had such a strong response that I thought it would be beneficial to share part of it on my blog, too.
It's about listening. Or rather, being open to the idea that our minds are never really made up. Decisions, thoughts, and ideas are not, in fact, concrete. We may also have differing opinions from one another, which is okay – just because we may not agree, it doesn't mean we have to cast labels on each other.
What we think today isn't set in stone. We may even find that the root of our suffering is actually stemming from thoughts and beliefs that don't serve us – so we must be open to evolving.
Something I've been thinking a lot about recently, and have spoken in depth about during my weekly live classes with the Culinary Nutrition Expert Program, is confirmation bias. My objective in teaching this program is not to be the voice in everyone's head. I don't want anyone ever to do something because "This is what Meghan said". Instead, I challenge my students to ask critical questions and seek out the answers, and learn to trust in their own wisdom and their own thinking.
Confirmation bias is the practice of seeking out and favouring information that confirms our existing beliefs. It effectively closes us off from seeking out, let alone assimilating, new information. We are more inclined to seek information that confirms what we already believe or supports our assumptions. We look for evidence to confirm what we think – this is easier and it ensures we're right. (I have spoken about this before as it relates to creating magic in our lives.)
There are many ways this function of human nature is designed to be protective, but there are also times where it becomes self-limiting.
I've been reading a really great book called You're Not Listening, What You're Missing And Why It Matters by Kate Murphy. It has me thinking a lot about what kind of listening I am doing, and also if anyone is listening to anyone anymore, or just seeking confirmation. Basically, are we all just trying to be right?
Have we stopped listening because we're all so focussed on being right?
We live in a time when most of our daily conversations are had via keyboards and screens, where social media is anything but social, and where opinions and beliefs are becoming stronger than ever as we experience greater levels of long-term chronic fear (and with that stress), shutting down the amygdala, the part of our brain responsible for critical thinking.
The result of this is that too quickly, rather than being able to have conversations, share ideas, get clarifications, respectfully disagree without making it personal (or taking it personally), or putting someone in a box and throwing an extreme label on that box, it has become the reflex to cast a judgement, make assumptions, delete, and move on. Or sometimes even throwing a hateful comment their way first, before moving on. (Being the recipient of these on a weekly basis, they're not effective if the goal is for the recipient to actually care. A kind, respectful, human response goes a lot further.)
As such, we continue to fill our feeds and our lives only with the information and people that support our existing beliefs. This limits our own potential for growth.
We've stopped listening. And when we stop listening, we stop accepting new information into our awareness. We block the opportunity for our minds to be changed, our actions to be changed, or to accept that perhaps we have the same objective but different ideas on how to get there. We lose the opportunity to accept that maybe we're not right. Maybe we have more to learn, and that's okay.
There is power in conversation, in being able not just to hear but also to actively listen, share ideas, perceptions and experiences, and be okay with the fact that we're not all going to agree, or that two differing ideas could both be right.
We're all trying to find our way through the chaos and unknowns of life right now and to do so, we need less separation and more listening. We may need to respectfully disagree, but taking the time to understand different perspectives can go a long way.
With all the chaos out there, I've started meditating again and it has been hard. Really hard. Meditation and yoga and walking in silence and journaling and whatever else you do to calm your mind and process stress is super easy when you are not experiencing heightened levels of stress.
This is how I recognized that I needed to jump back into it. The first time I sat to listen to my breath and let my mantra come, I checked the time about 23,456 times in twenty minutes. It was excruciating, but I kept sitting. It's the bubbling. Stress coming out can feel a lot like it does coming in. But I am committing to it.
The other thing I am working on doing more of is being in my kitchen and cooking. It has always been my go-to activity for stress relief but lately, it's been all about just getting the next meal done. And so with my team functioning so well and I'm not as needed day-to-day, I can take the time to get back to creating.
Though both of these things feel like they are just for me, meditation benefits the meditator and everyone around that person, just as cooking does.
Is there something you've reconnected with in the last little while that has been a source of joy and calm for you? Do share!
It seems to me that if we can all reconnect with the sources of joy in our lives, we just might be able to remember who we are, our source, tune into that intuition and as a result, become more open to new thoughts, ideas, inspiration and each other.
Thank you for reading. Thank you for always being so open to listening.