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Laguna Beach

 Volume 12, Issue 56  |  July 14, 2020

Guest Column

The habit of listening to find our purpose 

By Dr. Vidya Reddy

“Let yourself be silently drawn by the strange pull of what you really love. It will not lead your astray” –Rumi

Hello this week, I welcome you to the Purposeful Corner with Dr. Vidya.

Nowadays, our lives are so filled with busyness and effortful distraction that we have no space to actually listen to what life is calling us to do.

I urge you to consciously think about your day so far, and your day yesterday – how much of it was spent in busy-work and distraction or diversion? Messaging, social media, Netflix, watching news, reading favorite websites, answering emails and doing errands, replying and reacting.

I want you to stop and reflect, do you in the middle of this madness, ever have space for silence? For creation, contemplation, reflection? And for a practice that I think we do so little of most of the time – listening.

The active practice of listening is about creating a little space for silence, and then listening to what you need to do right now: 

--What have you committed to doing that you’re not doing?

--Why is what you’re doing now important? 

--What do you need? 

--What do the people you care about need?

--What are you being called on to do? 

--What would be the most impactful or meaningful thing you could do right now? 

--How do you want to spend the next month of your life? 

--What do you care most deeply about? Are you willing to commit yourself to it?

The habit doctor

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Photo by Johnny Antezana 

Dr. Vidya Reddy

These are the kinds of questions to ask in this purposeful listening practice. But more important than the questions is how you listen:

--Create some space by taking a break from devices and busyness. Stop and get somewhere where you can have stillness – a walk in nature, dropping into sitting meditation, dropping into child’s pose on the floor, having a cup of tea, sitting out on your porch, finding a bench in a park.

--Now just find silence and stillness and ask a question. You can ask any of the questions above, or whatever feels important for you right now. One of my favorites is, “What am I being called to do right now?” 

--Keep yourself in that stillness and silence and listen for the answer. Breathe deeply. Feel how your body feels right now. And then listen to the answer that comes up for you. Your gut has an answer. Maybe it’s not the perfect answer, but it’s something to start with. Listen until you have clarity.

It’s that simple. Pause in a moment of stillness and silence. Ask a question. 

Listen for the answer.

This can be used in all areas of your life: your relationships, your health, your finances, your work, your meaningful contribution to humanity.

How can you practice this throughout the day?

I created the Naturally Happy podcast as tool to help as a reflection exercise and for building spirit muscle. Please listen to it at Use the podcast guide to find episodes to create some catharsis in your life.

The habit pose

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Photo by Pieter Baetens

Listening for Our Calling 

The voice of your own soul 

Purpose: The Practice of Listening for Our Calling. When you take the time to draw on your listening, on imagination, you will begin to hear this gentle voice at the heart of your life. It is deeper and surer than all the other voices of disappointment, defeat, unease, self-criticism, and bleakness. All holiness is about learning to hear the voice of your own soul. It is always there and the more deeply you learn to listen, the greater surprises and discoveries that will unfold. To enter into the gentleness of your own soul changes the tone and quality of your life. Your life is no longer consumed by hunger for the next event, experience, or achievement. You learn to come down from the treadmill and walk on the earth. You gain a new respect for yourself and others and you learn to see how wonderfully precious this one life is. You begin to see through the enchanting veils of illusion that you had taken for reality. You no longer squander yourself on things and situations that deplete your essence. You know now that your true source is not outside you. Your soul is your true source and a new energy and passion awakens in you. 

Don’t aim at success. The more you aim at it and make it a target, the more you are going to miss it. For success, like happiness, cannot be pursued; it must ensue, and it only does so as the unintended side effect of one’s personal dedication to a cause greater than oneself or as the byproduct of one’s surrender to a person other than oneself. Happiness must happen, and the same holds for success: you have to let it happen by not caring about it. I want you to listen to what your conscience commands you to do and go on to carry it out to the best of your knowledge. Then you will live to see that in the long run – in the long run, I say! – success will follow you precisely because you had forgotten to think about it.

The central task of the religious community is to unveil the bonds that bind each to all. There is a connectedness, a relationship discovered amid the particulars of our own lives and the lives of others. Once felt, it inspires us to act for justice. It is the church that assures us that we are not struggling for justice on our own, but as members of a larger community. The religious community is essential, for alone our vision is too narrow to see all that must be seen, and our strength too limited to do all that must be done. Together, our vision widens and our strength is renewed. 

In Peace, Love and Gratitude. 

‘Til next time. 

Dr.Vidya Reddy, ND, AMS, DAC, CLC


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