I remember in my training for Qi-Gong (Energy-Discipline) certification, where we learn to sense and regulate our energy body, my instructor would say, “if you’re listening, you cannot be thinking.” I wanted to understand what he meant by that and carried his thought into all of my other meditative practices, my training in dance and acting, and the state I brought to conversations when relating with friends and family. It took some time, but one day I finally came to a real understanding.
This understanding was that the sense of hearing was a feeling state in and of itself. Biologically speaking our ears are built to absorb sounds- wavelengths of vibration. When I hone in on that sense specifically and allow myself to feel or sense my ears absorbing sounds or wavelengths of vibrations around me, it changes my state. Heightening my sense of hearing in-turn heightens my sense of feeling and as the two heighten together, my state becomes a pure state of absorption. A very deep state of flow.
Working in meditative practice to develop listening and feeling senses is a gateway to accessing a flow state. In order for our Junior Golfers to understand these capacities we’ve been practicing exercises to sense the difference between thinking and listening. Being able to notice that your body and mind feel is quite different when you’re thinking as opposed to when you’re listening. This is, what I believe, may be a first step to being able to hone into one or the other on demand.
To develop your awareness and skill of thinking and listening being sensory experiences that feel different, my suggestion is first to practice paying attention. Pay attention any moment you catch yourself heavily caught in thought and notice what’s going on with your sense of hearing and/or allow yourself to transition into a listening state by soaking up the sounds around you. Playing with transitioning between the states of thinking and listening will help you distinguish the difference between the two, heighten your ability to transition on demand, and better understand the feeling state associated with each.
See if you can deepen your sense of listening to a place where it drops you into a state of flow.