Meet Heart's Path Explorer Carin Cullen
Explore: True and Also True

Explore: Listening

Last week during the Artist's Way Meetup I attend most months, I learned about Coffitivity. (If you're interested in my Meetup story, see Learn: What a Community Can Offer.) A web site that provides a coffee shop soundtrack, Coffitivity was developed in response to research showing that moderate ambient noise improves creativity.

During the same Meetup conversation, some talked about wanting to be creative in close proximity to loved ones while others craved solitude. Another group member commented that, for her, the practice of writing inspires "deep inner listening."

All this got me thinking about the varied environments in and modes by which we practice listening.


Our senses reign over the environments in which we practice listening to our hearts. Part of listening to my heart includes listening to what environment I need during a particular situation or for a certain task.

Noise plays an important role: Do I need pure quiet? Music? (What type of music?) The din of a coffee shop or of traffic? The refreshing sounds of nature? My own soundtrack includes all these noises, depending on the day and my mood and what my heart asks for during a particular moment.

The setting in which I place myself becomes a character in my listening practice. If I am journaling in public I am, on some level, often aware that I am connected to the larger scene around me. If I'm in solitude in nature, I sense that I'm connected to the entire universe. When I'm in solitude at home, on the other hand, I tend to focus more inwardly.

labyrinth, Millenium Garden, Plymouth MN photo by Heather at

Back to coffee shops ... personally, I like the smell of brewed coffee but don't care for the smell of coffee beans and, thus, coffee shops. Some people like scented candles and/or use aromatherapy when they practice listening.

Physical touch plays a role as well. There's a difference to listening with a favorite pen in hand while seated at a desk in an office chair compared with doing the same in a comfy chair or on a plush sofa. Sitting on a firm cushion in meditation results in a completely different type of listening.

Taste didn't seem to apply until I considered the difference between listening with a glass of wine at hand compared with a cup of tea or, during a steaming summer day like these last few here in Minnesota, a cold glass of iced tea or ice water (or a cold beer)!


The modes of listening seem to fall in just two categories (though I may view this topic differently later on): stationary and in motion.

Stationary can mean sitting: in a chair or sofa, at a desk or table (or not), on a meditation cushion or park bench. Being still can also mean lying down: in bed while waking or before sleep, in savasana during yoga practice.

In motion involves more variety: crafting or creating, cooking, writing, mowing the lawn, swimming, running, folding laundry and so many more repetative and meditative activities. When I think just of walking, I think of walking on a wooded path or around a pond or along my neighborhood streets or through a labyrinth.

While listening marks an important guidepost for discovering and living my heart's true path (see Learn: The Five Guideposts), you can see how there are myriad environments in and modes through which to practice listening. How do you listen best to your heart? Do you have a particular environment or mode that works best? Or does your practice vary as mine does? Share your experience in a comment below, in our community Facebook page or via twitter.

To read more on listening, see Learn: The Value of Inner Listening or the Listening category.


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Heart’s Path Discovery Sessions

If you’re seeking your heart’s true path, join me for a 3-week in-person Heart's Path Discovery Sessions this fall in the Minneapolis area. Heart’s Path Discovery Sessions offer a set of guideposts for discovering and living your heart's true path, a strategy for finding what activities you love and then living with intention and with a greater sense of meaning.