My Heart Echoed His Heart

If You Really Pay Attention
by Paula Underwood

When I was a little bitty kiddy, about five, my Dad began a process … anytime somebody came and said something to us, my dad would say, "You remember what he said, honey girl?” I would tell my father what the person said until I got so good at it that I could repeat verbatim even long presentations of what the person had said.

And he did this all the time.

Finally, one day there was this old gentleman, Richard Thompson. I still remember his name, he lived across the street. And every time my Dad started to mow the lawn, there came Mr. Thompson. And so I would stand out there.

Dad says, “You might come and listen to this man, honey girl. He’s pretty interesting.” And so I listened to him, and then my dad would say, “What did you hear him say?” And I would tell him.

Well, eventually I was repeating all the stories he liked to share with my dad verbatim. I knew them all by heart.

And my Dad says, “You’re getting pretty good at that. But did you hear his heart?" And I thought, what? So I went around for days with my ear to people's chest trying to hear their hearts.

Finally my Dad created another learning situation for me by asking my mother to read an article from the newspaper. He says “Well, I guess if you want to understand that article, you have to read between the lines."

I thought, "Oh, read between the lines. Hear between the words."

So the next time I listened to Mr. Thompson’s stories, I tried to listen between the words. My Dad said, “I know you know his story, but did you hear his heart?” And I said, "Yes. He is very lonely and comes and shares his memories with you again and again because he’s asking you to keep him company in his memories."

It just came out of me. In other words, my heart echoed his heart.

And when you can listen at that level, then you can hear not only the people. If you really pay attention, you can hear what the Universe is saying.

--Paula Underwood, clan mother of the Turtle clan, Iroquois nation

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posted by ashley


Attention is like Water

michael directed my attention to this provacative article by stephen dinan, Attention is like Water
Attention is like water – it brings life to whatever it touches. Whether it is a neglected child who is acting out in school, or a weary body thirsty for a vacation, everything that exists needs attention to thrive. The Second Law of Thermodynamics says that the universe is winding down, tending towards increased entropy. Attention winds the universe back up. It’s the turbine of evolution, the Godforce within us, creating businesses, families, communities, relationships, even social movements.
This month, I’ve been thinking more about how much actual attention I have – how much water is in the watering can? If I spread it too thin, everything wilts eventually from inadequate attention, including me. If I focus it too intently, I find myself impatient, wanting to see more happening more quickly. What do I include in the garden of my life, knowing that each and every thing in the garden will need attention in order to thrive and result in a harvest?There’s an art to knowing precisely how much attention we have and therefore how much we can care for in our lives.
what are you giving your attention to? what in your life needs your attention?


Ah! I tend to be a wild scatterer, rather than a focused concentrator, of attention. And I've noticed that I swing in approximately 2-yr cycles, first feeling limbo-ish and in-waiting, and then saying yes and yes to invitations and casting the net out wide, then deciding it's all too much to pay attention to (mmhmm, that's exactly how I experience it, too)and I start to "push things off my plate," choosing to stay home more and tend to homey family details. Then the charisma of the "outside" world catches my eye again and starts a new cycle.

Right now what needs attention are my Angel Trumpet (out on the deck, should have brought it in the house last week), some dishes to put away, and a sudden craving to be immersed in warm water!

love to you, Ashley

GravatarI just wanted to thank you for posting these excerpts and questions. They inevitably give me much to think about . . . my one complaint is that these small comment boxes seem nowhere near adequate to hold the weight of what you ask! But thank you, truly. This blog is such a joy.

GravatarOooh, what an apt analogy! Here's the cultivating That which nutures our gardens!

Love you so much!


GravatarI turned myself to face me. What wasn't there is what I am missing giving my attention to. Right now my attention in on fear, which is not so bad when I am just paying attention and not engaging or running from it.

Living art, breathing art, being art. Beautifully. Just like you Ashley, just like you.

Gravatarexceptionally helpful response from christy:

I am guessing that you are a "Fire" constitutional type (and maybe more
specifically a "Triple Warmer" which is one of the Fire organs, along with the Small Intestine, Pericardium, and Heart). Fire is all about passion, relationship, creativity, joy, humor, intimacy, communication, leadership (& sometimes control issues), interpersonal boundaries, etc.

So, if that's your "constitutional element" then it would make perfect sense that you crave warmth, and warmth (inner & outer) is a good and important quality for you to radiate and to receive (though not in excess or to the exclusion of coolness--Chinese medicine/culture is so all about moderation in all things after all!). Easy ways to gather warmth if you're feeling too cool: warm water, saunas, hugs, a little cinnamon or cardamom or ginger or cayenne in your food, spicy tea (chai), little or no ice cream or ice in your drinks. On the other hand, it's easy for Fire types to get overhot--scattered, insomniac, sweaty, a little "fried" or "burnt-out" feeling, in which cases it's important to slow down and avoid the above warming influences for a while.

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posted by ashley

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