Cultivate Deep Listening in times of great noise

December 6, 2023

by Hagar Harpak

There’s a deep listening that needs to be cultivated if we are to restructure the world. Are we listening? Are we listening to the subtlety of nuance? Do we take the time to sit in the bath of sound, to feel the pulse of a note in our bones, to let it run its course through our veins, to allow the resonance of dissonance reveal to us something new, something more?

We are bombarded with information, we take in a colossal amount of images and words, we come to conclusions fast these days, before we check all the facts, before we take into consideration the different threads that weave the fabric of the story. And we hurry up to share. Swift to comment. Quick to keep sharing things because they fit the narrative that has formed in our minds and in our communities, because they fit the persona we feel the need to project to the world. 

Not all that is spoken is true. Not all can be measured in the same exact way. Not every piece fits together to form the picture that we want to see. 

We are ruled by Social Media. Ruled by algorithm. Ruled by what we think we stand for, when in fact we are sheep, following voices that echo in the chambers of our screen. 

I don’t want to eat the sheep, but I want to be smart like the wolf.

Many of The conversations I’ve had lately have been uncomfortable. But I want to keep having them. Connecting to each other is the only thing I feel almost certain could help us through these times. My view on some matters has become more prismatic, less whole, more fractured, less pronounced. I’m less clear about what’s right and what’s left (as the BFG would say). I Know what I care about. I know what’s important to me. But the path is a blur. 

The forest of feelings is thick. The jungle of thoughts even thicker. The movement within it is serpentine. Not direct. This is not a linear process. The access to the core twists and turns. This is a story of survival. A story about never belonging. An ancient story that keeps unfolding. And finding a way. And not being ok. And breaking up with the obvious. And watching the shadows dance. 

I know clearly in my heart what wrong is. And I don’t have a clear answer to how to make it right. I know in the deep wisdom of my bones that no one should be left out. But my muscles clench when certain pieces are legitimized. 

When we are taught to think in binaries, when we draw the world in black or white, when we hold on tightly to one perspective, we carve the path of narrow mindedness, rigidity forms sharp edges around our hearts, and this is how we become exactly that which we think we are fighting against. Threads of sureness weave the fabric of dogma. 

I stand on a rock. It’s wide and it feels solid under my feet. But pretty soon the waves come. Where there was land there’s now a sea. The rock is just a tip. Water surrounds me as far as I can see. Less rock. More liquidity. The rock is slippery. Splash! 

The past few years have been a school of uncertainty. Solid rocks have gone under water. We learn to swim. Then pretty quickly someone finds an island. A new shore is revealed. There’s promise on that land. Pretty soon the safety of the ground becomes a refuge, but only for some, and soon enough the slippery slope comes after us all. 

Woke is the new fascism. 

I don’t support the war. And I’m strongly against the nihilism of terrorism. I’m really not clear on what the solution is. I’m over the shitty governments. But the revolution looks like the same old tricky trek toward the mountain peak of dictatorship, where if someone thinks differently, raises questions, doesn’t agree with everything, they are thrown off the cliff.

I roll my eyes a lot lately. And I don’t take it lightly. I wanna scream. And I do. Tears streaming down my face is an ordinary state of being. My heart is broken into more pieces than I can count. There’s an extra spice on my tongue. And it’s sharp. I am less sure than I’ve ever been. 

As a parent, I don’t often know if what I’m doing is right. Doing a good enough job never feels good enough for me, because I want the best for my kids. How do you figure this shit out? Where is the freedom and where are the boundaries? Which is the word that they’ll remember forever? How much is too much? When is it not enough? 

I hope that this constant questioning will continue to guide me on this road of continuous change. I hope that by not being sure enough I am allowing more room for breath to fill the space with love and clean the corners from the cobwebs of authoritarianism. 

Yoga teaches us that stability matters. And it does. Being too flexible can lead to injury. And I’m not only talking about the physical, I’m not only thinking of asana when I remind myself that form is important, that groundedness builds strength, and boundaries are necessary, that taking a stance is important. Discipline is one of yoga’s most core principles. 

Yoga also teaches us that we cannot force things, that we need to breathe, and that fluidity is key to the health of our bodies, minds, hearts, and relationships. Mobility, adaptability, malleability, and alchemy are at the core of yoga too.

I wish to be able to sit in the value of uncertainty, instead of clinging to righteousness. And I wish I could invite others into the sacred space of not knowing. 

Not enough self doubt is dangerous. Not enough confidence turns you into a tumble of weeds. I wanna know how to be a fallen leaf so that I can understand both wind and soil, so that I can  fly a little, nourish the roots, and weave the story of what’s deep down below the surface, into what I have seen from up above. 

As we shape new cultures, we must not harden the new versions of ourselves, we must not get too fixed.

I look at the veil that hides the future. The only way forward that I can see is together. The only way forward is if we mingle our tears, if we let our shared grief lead us into shared solutions. I’m talking about Israelis and Palestineans. But I’m talking about more than the Israeli Palestinian issue. Isolation, polarization, and hatred of the other side does not promote freedom or peace. 

I draw hope from the organization Standing Together; An Arab-Jewish-Israeli-Palestininan group carving the path forward together. Check them out. Help support them.  

As we move into the the last phase of the sun’s descent, into the last few exhales of the year, into the moments that usher us through a collective completion of a cycle, and a portal opening into a new phase, we can learn from the darkening sky about being unsure, about being less clear, about being constant in our capacity to change. 

This time of year offers us an opening, a doorway, a cave of refuge, and a ground for our roots. It offers us lessons in treasured sunlight and long nights of sparkles. We can learn to be softer, to think about hard things, to break open, and to strengthen our bonds through being courageous enough to speak about what isn’t comfortable. And maybe this season invites us to listen. In the cold, dark, quiet nights, we can turn down the volume of our beliefs, and cultivate deep receptivity. 

The Winter Solstice Somatic Ceremony is designed to help us dance with our shadows, to move with the wisdom of the season, to contemplate, to reflect on the ending year, to envision the possibilities we’d like to give shape to next, and to create space for deep listening. 

You’ll get a video session packed with stories, symbols, and archetypes that you can take with you on a walk, or a car ride, to the bath, or to your house chores. There’s a lot in there and you can listen to it all at once or little bits at a time. You might enjoy listening to it more than once. You’ll get five video sessions that bring the stories and the symbols into the body with asana, pranayama, mantra, mudra, and meditation. You’ll get one meditation and pranayama video session to sit with again and again throughout the season. And lots and lots of prompts you can use for journaling or to spark conversations with friends. 

If you’re looking to end the year with a deeply evocative, wildly transformative, contemplative, inspiring ritual, join us for this embodied mythopoetic journey. All the details are here

I recorded a few practices that could be helpful for this time. They’re all FREE. check them out:

This one is a short moving meditation inspired by Dharna #4 from the Vijnana Bhairava.

This one is a 30 minute practice infused with wisdom from the Bhagavad Gita. 

And this one is a practice to support our body-mind-heart through this time of crisis. 

Hang in there, dear one, This is not an easy time. Reach out to a loved one. Hug a tree. Sing a song. Listen to your breath. 

So much love,


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