Listening skillfully requires us to get out of our own way.
—Margaret Truxaw Hopkins, “The Healing Power of Being Deeply Heard”
Function: The stirrup is a u-shaped bone that sends sound vibrations to the cochlea in the inner ear. Its technical name is “stapes.”
Location: The middle ear, a narrow air-filled space between the outer and inner ear.
Unique Fact: The smallest bone in the human body is the stirrup bone; it is smaller than a grain of rice.
Associated Chakra: Third Eye (6th Chakra)
Sometimes the tiniest of things can impact the way you experience the world. The stirrup bone, smaller than a grain of rice and situated in a tiny space in your ear, enables you to hear. Such a useful little bone! And yet, listening is not just a physiological act, it is also a deeply emotional one. Our little stirrup bone can be vibrating away, but we may not be hearing a thing. Have you ever taken stock to notice when you “tune out” and stop listening? Are there certain topics of conversation that repel you? What about particular sounds or tones of voice? For many of us, particular childhood (or even adult) memories come to mind when we contemplate when and why we stop listening. Perhaps someone was cruel or mean with their voice. It makes sense that in order to protect ourselves, we shut down and plugged our ears. Perhaps there is part of you that is still that child, waiting for the bad sounds to stop.
If the stirrup bone is appearing to you, this may be a sign to take your fingers out of your ears. Is there something important you are not hearing because you are afraid to listen? Is there a particular truth that you’re avoiding? And how well are you listening to yourself and your inner wisdom these days? Remember that when we tune out the dissonant sounds of the world, we often tune out the beautiful sounds as well. Listening is an art form, and when you can embrace this receptive art truly and fully, you may find that even the dissonant sounds have purpose. You may also discover that you begin to attract insightful voices, beautiful melodies, and other open and compassionate ears, ready to listen to you.
- Self-Massage for the Ears: There are literally hundreds of acupuncture points in your ears. When you perform a simple massage for your ears, you are able to access all of the points. And self-massage of the ears also promotes better listening skills.
- Silent Walk: Take a walk in silence by yourself or with another person. Resist the temptation to talk or listen to music. Just be with the sounds around you, and listen deeply. What do your very own footsteps sound like? Experience the different sounds in your body. How does a garbage truck sound feel in your body compared to the rustling of leaves?
- Write: Divide a piece of paper in half either by drawing a line or folding it. On one side write down 20 sounds that you enjoy, that enrich your life in some way. On the opposite side, list 20 sounds that repel you. Is one list easier to write than the other? Are there any commonalities between the two lists? To take this exercise further, choose one sound from each column to write about. Why are these sounds either pleasant or unpleasant? What memories do these sounds conjure for you?