How often do you stop and sit in quiet still awareness, open to listening to what your inner voice is saying to you? For some, this might be too confronting, perhaps afraid of what they might hear. However for the majority, it seems our busy world distracts us from this important human task. Those who practice regular meditation will have some idea of what it is like to sit in quiet still awareness, and be open to receiving new insight into what the body and mind needs at any particular point in time. For those with no time to do nothing – you could be missing out on so much more that life has to offer!
Before I moved to the Northern Territory, I had been told by two different employers that I should “stop and smell the roses occasionally”. This is difficult to hear by one who is passionately driven in their work. Then I came across the words of Miriam-Rose Ungunmerr-Baumann, an Aboriginal Elder from Nauiyu (Daly River) who talks about Dadirri like it is the essence of human life.
“Dadirri is inner, deep listening and quiet, still awareness. Dadirri recognises the deep spring that is inside us. We call on it and it calls to us. This is the gift that Australia is thirsting for. It is something like what you call ‘contemplation’.
When I experience dadirri, I am made whole again. I can sit on the riverbank or walk through the trees; even if someone close to me has passed away, I can find my peace in this silent awareness. There is no need of words. A big part of dadirri is listening.”
“In our Aboriginal way, we learnt to listen from our earliest days. We could not live good and useful lives unless we listened. This was the normal way for us to learn – not by asking questions. We learnt by watching and listening, waiting and then acting.”
These words really struck me. And I have carried them with me from the moment I stepped onto Aboriginal land to work with the Tiwi people. For the first four months, I hardly spoke a word. I sat around with women Elders drinking cups of tea and listened as they generously poured out their stories – about them, about their community, about their people, about their hopes and dreams, and about what they didn’t want whitefellas doing to them anymore. I learnt a lot by keeping my mouth shut.
Since injuring my back in January this year, I have had a lot more hours lying around in quiet still awareness, listening to what my body needs. This has tended to be more reliable than the advice from doctors, physios, chiros and even well intentioned friends.
Dadirri doesn’t have to take a long time out of your day or be some mindblowing, life course altering transformation. For instance, today I stopped to contemplate an out-of-the-blue email from an interstate colleague I’ve never met face-to-face, suggesting I read a book called “Leadership Beyond Good Intentions”. She courageously suggested that “this book might help you look after yourself…as you continue your social leadership journey.” I didn’t even realise I was on a social leadership journey! I wondered whether others would have laughed off this observation, made a polite response and hit Delete. But her insight got me contemplating. What can she see that I can’t? Where am I being lead? Well, there was only one way to find out. I ordered the book.
Anyway, it was all this contemplation that led me to write this blog…..
What are the signposts in your life that you haven’t noticed because you’ve been too busy?
What do the sights, smells and sounds around you have you feeling and thinking?
What is that piece of music or the bird that pooped on your head, really saying!
Stop and take notice. Chances are your thoughts will be a reflection of what is important to you, who you really are and what you need. It’s your inner wisdom talking.
“[Dadirri] is in everyone. It is not just an Aboriginal thing.”—Miriam-Rose Ungunmerr-Baumann