Are You (Really) Listening?

by Patricia Spadaro

“I wish to learn, will you teach me?” a man once asked the Sufi teacher Libnani.

“I do not feel that you know how to learn,” answered the teacher.

“Then can you teach me how to learn?” countered the man.

“Can you learn how to let me teach?” was the reply.

What sometimes keeps us from learning—whether from a sage, from our relationships or co-workers, or from the ups and downs of daily life—is that we don’t know how to let others teach us. We don’t know how to shut off our own mind and hear.

Listening Is One Thing, but Hearing Is Another

True listening is an art—one that involves what renowned physicist David Bohm called the ability to “suspend your assumptions.” Bohm worked in the field on quantum physics and was also a champion of dialogue. For him, dialogue was an application of the key quantum themes of interconnectedness and flow.

Dialogue, in the way Bohm means it, takes place with respect and the suspension of judgment as one listens to others. Read the rest of this entry »

Lessons from a Majestic Mother (and Father)

by Patricia Spadaro

Want a quiet thrill to boost your springtime mood?

Put this at the top of your list:  watch this live webcam of a mother and father bald eagle and their newborn eaglets. The three babies hatched about 10 days ago and you can watch (and hear) them live 24 hours a day  (see more links at bottom of post too).

The non-profit Raptor Resource Project has live webcams of several birds’ nests, and the hottest one right now—high in a tree in Decorah, Iowa—will make you smile. Guaranteed.

WARNING: if you start watching this when you have something you really need to get done, you might be sorry. It’s hard to take your eyes off the tender, magnificent scene unfolding before your eyes.

While I was watching on and off yesterday, the father eagle arrived a couple of times with some fresh prey while the mother—constantly moving her head, watchful and protective—kneaded the nest with her huge talons and fed, cleaned, and tucked those little ones under her immense, warm body.

Why we can’t take our eyes off of you…

Why is this play of nature so fascinating to watch? There’s something deeply moving and resonant in watching the mama eagle gently rock back and forth, back and forth as she hovers over and snuggles her young beneath her. Something unbelievably heart-opening in the way those vulnerable little fledglings stumble and tumble over each other as mother and father take turns feeding them bits of fresh fish. And something awe-inspiring and comforting as the father spreads his enormous wings and lifts off from the nest on his next tour of duty—and then swoops down to visit and drop off a fresh catch.

Most of all, there is something grandly archetypal in this scene that touches our spirit and reminds us of beautiful, majestic, selfless motherhood in the deepest sense of that word.

We all long to be nestled by the great mother. And there is a part of each of us that is compelled to be “mother.” The mother is that part of you that nurtures and protects the emergence of new life. As we watch the mother eagle nourish her young with such majesty and aplomb, it reminds us of our own calling to nurture and protect what’s growing inside of us—and inside those who are in the circle of our care.

We are continually giving birth to something new within ourselves—whether it’s a budding sense of needed change, a seed of creativity waiting to be expressed, a recognition of a long-denied truth. We don’t always do it as well as we’d like to, or perhaps we didn’t have good role models. So it’s deeply satisfying to watch this beautiful mother (and father) energy playing out so naturally and masterfully before our eyes.

The mother eagle shows us what it means to be attentive, patient, wise—enfolding everything that matters under her broad, strong wings.

One has to prepare oneself for each new energy. Every expectant mother thinks about her future child. How then can one not think about the energy that lives within each of us? One has to think about one’s innate possibilities.”
Agni Yoga

Watching the sharp-eyed mother eagle and listening to the helpless chirps of her babies makes me think:

  • What possibilities am I giving birth to?
  • What part of me is the mother eagle?
  • What part of me is like those eaglets, needing nurturing and protection?
  • Am I giving that to myself—and feeding myself what I need to grow?
  • Am I giving that to my loved ones too?

It’s a clear night in Decorah now, and through the night vision camera of the webcam I can see the mother nest her head into her feathers and finally take a nap as one of her restless little ones peeps its curious head out from under her feathery tummy. Time for me to sleep, too—if only I could tear myself away from watching them. I wonder what they’ll be doing in the morning . . . and what dreams I’ll have tonight.

Some fun links:

Links to the live webcam of the Decorah eagles:

If you want to see the third eagle emerging from its egg:

Other nest cams:

Note about the image above, which is a screen capture from Ustream TV: Eagle, Falcons, and Osprey Cams (Raptor Resource Project ) / CC BY-NC-SA 3.0

Your Heart Is Wise

by Patricia Spadaro

Do you turn to your heart when making decisions? The world’s traditions are filled with poignant lessons that point to the wisdom of the heart. We learn from the sages that the voice of the heart will always tell us the right way to go in any situation. In the ancient Brihadaranyaka Upanishad, when the […]

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Tips for Transformational Giving

by Patricia Spadaro

Today, more than ever, we are showered with media messages vying to convince us that gift-giving is all about buying more and buying bigger. I’ll never forget the sobs that came from a niece of mine one Christmas morning when she had finished unwrapping the two gifts my husband and I had given her, only […]

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Do You Know How to Receive?

by Patricia Spadaro

“We must make the choices that enable us to fulfill the deepest capacities of our real selves.” —Thomas Merton Giving is great, but is it always better than receiving? Is giving better than receiving if our giving ends up knocking us flat on our backs, compromising our ability to give with resilience to others? When […]

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Creating Spaces in Your Togetherness – Part 2

by Patricia Spadaro

Are you honoring the paradox of dependence and independence? We honor ourselves when we ask for the support we need. And yet there are times when life compels us to rely on ourselves because flying solo is exactly what we need. The following story from the Hasidic tradition of Judaism highlights why self-reliance is indispensable. […]

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Is Giving a Gift Always the Best Choice?

by Patricia Spadaro

You give but little when you give of your possessions. It is when you give of yourself that you truly give. —Kahlil Gibran Let’s face it—many of us are still rushing around to buy the people we love the most their holiday gifts, huffing and puffing all the way.  Here’s a story that’s a perfect […]

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The Power of Focused Attention

by Patricia Spadaro

One of the most significant gifts we can give in this modern, busy time of ours is our time. With so many demands placed upon us, we often find ourselves talking or listening to someone who needs us while we are also driving, watching TV, answering our cell phones, text messaging, making dinner, going through […]

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Giving the Gift of Your Heart

by Patricia Spadaro

Better than bigger is the gift of the heart. As little children size up their stack of birthday or holiday gifts, bigger and more always seem better. I’ll never forget the sobs that came from a little niece of mine one Christmas morning when she finished unwrapping the two gifts my husband and I had […]

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