Bird Droppings September 24, 2020
Can we listen through our heart?
It has been several years since I found on my many excursions to Barnes and Nobles a small book that I would like to share some passages from. I found many of the thoughts and passages to be of significance and for me sharing words of wisdom with others is part of who I am. I have several students in advisement who are interested in going into nursing and many thoughts in this little book relate to health and spiritual care as being one and the same. The little book, Listening with Your Heart, is written by Dr. Wayne Peale MD, a medical doctor, and Iroquois on his mother’s side.
“As a medical student I was being trained to hear hearts with my stethoscope, but found I was missing a great deal by not listening with my heart” Dr. Wayne Peale
Several years ago, I was proctoring an End of Course Test during the afternoon. One of the questions was from a poem or passage about a colt that was not winter-broke. I liked that term winter-broke. For those of us in the south perhaps it has little meaning and perhaps a culturally difficult passage. The term winter-broke is about being used to the winter, snowflakes, cold, steam from your breath and other idiosyncrasies of the cold. Today in Georgia many of those shy of snow in our area are visible. A baby horse new to the world would be spooked with a new snow fall. Maybe chasing snowflakes or running from them as in the case of the story.
However, as the question was answered for one of the answers was the author empathetic to the plight of the colt. Other answers used words such as was the colt afraid and words similar. One of my students asked me quietly what is empathetic. Being a language arts test and such I could not impart or tell the definition of an answer. I saw my little book on the table when I returned to my room and pondered as to why it was so hard not to say the answer because I too lived by empathy.
“The white man talks about the mind and body and spirit as if they are separate. For us they are one. Our whole life is spiritual, from the time we get up until we go to bed.” Yakima healer
It has been nearly twenty years that I agonized about a situation and a student who is on the verge of being expelled and much if it from my own fault. The student was refusing to do a required program. In refusing to do the assignment he was getting irate and argumentative often to a point of school disruption. When you carefully look at the student’s disability each aspect of it is in responses that are given, lack of control, obsessive behavior, emotional issues, anger management issues and authority issues. A slight change and the problem could be solved. Why not do the same work in a different manner? Of course, it is not in the confines of “program” which would upset administration. Should empathy for the student stand up to, trying to stay in the box? As Dr. Peale learned and points out sometimes you need to teach from the heart as well.
One day perhaps I will study linguistics and language. As I looked through Dr. Peale’s book a Navajo word caught my attention.
“Hozho (HO-zo) – A complex Navajo philosophical, religious, and aesthetic concept roughly translated as “beauty”. Hozho also means seeking and incorporating aesthetic qualities into life, it means inner peace and harmony, and making the most of all that surrounds us. It refers to a positive beautiful, harmonious, happy environment that must be constantly created by thought and deed. Hozho encourages us to go in beauty and to enjoy the gifts of life and nature and health.” Listening with your heart
In a recent writing seminar, the lead teacher offered that reading a passage can aid in eliciting descriptive phrases and sentences, and to encourage students to illiterate and expound on ideas more so. Here is a word that has so many meanings. A simple word is hozho, yet so much meaning. I end each of my daily writings with a Hindustani word and have several times offered the translation when people ask. Within its own language there are different meanings for different people. For some it is a salutation a simple hello or goodbye. If you go a bit further south in India you would only use namaste with reverence and literally bow your head pressing your hands together honoring the person you are speaking with, with your simple salutation.
It has been a few months since I wrote about making a rope strand by strand. A dear friend from up north wrote back thanking me and later in the day responded with this note.
“Thank you for sharing them with me. I sent this one on to my husband, my sister and sister-in-law and my best friend. Thru this most difficult year losing my beloved son, they have been constants in my life united we stand thru this valley of darkness. Without their love and support, my grief would be unbearable. Peace my friend.”
Empathy is assisted healing from the heart.
“…healing is a partnership with others – family members, community. A Native American healer once paraphrased Abraham Lincoln to me: ‘you can heal some things all of the time,’ the healer said, ‘and you can heal all things some of the time, but you can’t heal everything all the time alone.’ Everyone needs a coach, a family a community.” Dr. Wayne Peale MD
Sometimes when I receive a note from the heart it is difficult to answer immediately. I have to sit sometimes even sleep on it. My dear friend lost a son. Many the times since hearing of her plight I have wondered what it would be like to lose a son, a daughter or anyone close to me. Empathy is a difficult word at times like these. It is a much bigger word than most would imagine.
Our house is such that our two of our bedroom’s rooms are upstairs and two are downstairs they literally go from one end of the house to the other. Being that my writing and reading time do not always correspond with normal sleep patterns the family when home will be asleep when I am about to write or read. Listening to the sounds of my family asleep is a peaceful and wonderful feeling. Knowing they are safe and here at home. Then the so many what ifs have crossed my mind as I walk through the house early in the morning thinking about what if the rooms were empty such as today when even my wife is away for the week.
Lost in a moment of melancholy I come back to teaching in my thinking. Teaching is about healing, it is about community, and it is about family and most of all it is about empathy. It is about seeking and engaging constants in our lives so we can move forward and or change directions if need be. Teaching is always about learning. Sometimes as I came to realize yesterday and have so many times before our nice boxes we are supposed to teach from are not always the right ones. Sadly, far too many teachers do not use heart as a teaching tool. Far too many parents do not or cannot use heart as a parenting tool. As I look at the title of Dr. Peale’s book, listening with your heart, what a powerful message.
I am doing an exercise using a black and white picture of a bridge most will simply see a picture, while others have created fantasy worlds of trolls and fairies. Some simply explain their perception and how we each are different in what we see and hear. Often, I will play the devil’s advocate and argue both sides. It is just a bridge to elicit responses or what if it was a work of art created by an immigrant iron worker as a tribute to his or her new freedom. Thinking back to, Hozho, my new word I should take pause.
“Every action should be taken with thoughts of its effects on children seven generations from now.” Cherokee saying
If only we would deal with kids with life that way. What if people in general looked at life that way? Please keep all in harm’s way on your mind and in your hearts. It is about being in your heart. It is about speaking from your heart. But most of all it is listening with your heart and always giving thanks namaste.
My family and friends I do not say this lightly,
(We are all related)