The listening path: The creative art of attention

The Listening Path gives you tools to become a better listener to tune into your environment, the people around you and yourself.
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Author: Julia Cameron
Book Year: 2021
Publisher: Profile Books
ISBN: 9781788167796
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The listening path: The creative  art of attention

The Listening Path gives you tools to become a better listener to tune into your environment, the people around you and yourself. Reviews note that it reiterates much of her original teachings from other titles such as the successful The Artists Way. As a new reader of her books, I found value in the reflections and tools.  Repeated reading may also be necessary before we fully absorb all the insights! 

The book is structured as a six-week programme, with tools that develop our listening skills in specific ways including daily journal writing in what’s referred to as ‘the pages’, mindful walking, and setting a weekly date with yourself to replenish your energy and creativity.

Life can be noisy, full of bustle and constant sound, not just from the external world but also inside our heads.  Cameron suggests we need to be aware of both – the noises we find pleasant and those that seem abrasive. While retreating as a form of self-care is important, we need to be aware of not getting into a habit of tuning out from ourselves and others and detaching and to find ways to stay connected. We should stay connected to both others and be attentive to our mood, gut feelings and inspiration that may well lead to creative problem solving. This self-awareness helps us reset and better navigate our often fast-paced and loud lives.

I didn’t commit to a full 6 week programme, but did tackle the morning pages on days when I woke up feeling out of sorts. This process helped me figure out what was bothering me, rather than blundering through my day and missing all the signals my mind was giving me to slow down. I found that the meditative practices focussing on sounds helped to bring me into the present. I learnt that how I react to specific sounds is a good barometer for my mood and stress levels. 

Interestingly, I discovered I am equally uneasy with silence. I seem to crave time to myself to think and focus, but on days when I have the house to myself the sudden emptiness and silence can feel foreboding.   I learnt I need to lean into this and see what I can learn about myself, rather than distracting myself by filling the space with Netflix and scrolling social media.   

Cameron doesn’t believe that not having enough time to prioritise mindful practices is a valid excuse. She argues that moments spent listening bring multiple benefits.

‘The moments spent in tuning in especially when we think we don’t have time, doesn’t take time but gives us time … and gives us clarity, connection, and direction as well.’

She asks: When you reach out to the world around you by taking time to listen, do you sense that the world is reaching back? 

Review by Kim Higginson, Library Management Specialist, MHF

The listening path: The creative  art of attention