The other day I was listening to a mom describe a conversation she was having with her middle school son. She was sharing some things with him that he really didn't want to hear and instead of waiting for him to react she simply ended her conversation with 3 words..."Go Process That.." Those 3 words have stuck in my brain and served as the inspiration for my antics this week. So let me start by saying that as part of my yoga teacher training I use an excerpt on listening from Steven Covey's book Seven Habits of Successful People. Those of you who practice yoga are aware that the whole practice of yoga is centered around learning to listen to ourselves. Steven Covey describes 5 different levels of listening with the first level being Ignoring. We ignore signs of being hungry or full...we ignore those gut instincts that tend to lead us down paths that don't serve us. We ignore messages from our bodies that we don't want to hear. The second level of listening is pretending... we go through the motion of listening but we don't actually process the message. We ask someone how they're doing but don't really hear the answer. Selective listening is the third level. We are listening but we only hear what we want to hear. Maybe we hear that dark chocolate is good for us but we don't hear that eating an entire chocolate cake may not be the best decision. Autobiographical listening, the fourth level of listening is listening based on our own frame of reference and/or our previous history. Examples would be taking a yoga class and basing where we choose to be in any posture on where we were on a previous day not on how it felt to be in the framework of our bodies at that moment. Or another example would be listening to a friends story about their rough nights sleep and then instead of affirming what you heard them say you make it about you by telling about your rough nights sleep as well. The fifth level of listening which is the level we aspire to is called Empathetic Listening...listening with your whole being. In yoga its translated as being present...affirming what we hear each moment without pushing any thought or sensation away...its consciously choosing to listen to ourselves with a beginners mind as if we had never experienced that moment before. In our relationships w others its a willingness to process what the other person is saying without an immediate need to formulate a response...just affirming what you hear them say. In our relationship with food its a willingness to listen to hunger cues...to eat when we are hungry and of course more challenging to stop when we are full. As simple as this sounds we are all aware that there are many factors that affect our eating habits that have nothing to do with hunger. The nutrition seminar I am offering next Tuesday, Food Cravings. Habits and Emotions addresses some of these factors and offers some ammunition to retrain our brains so that we are more likely to take better care of ourselves. So whether its our relationship with others, with ourselves or with food we can all benefit from heeding this mother's advice..to slow down...to take some time...to give ourselves permission to listen..and to "Go Process That!!"