Do You Hear What I Hear?

Via on Dec 23, 2011

Pssst! Pay attention or you’re going to miss it!

When I was in fourth grade, my music teacher taught us a sweet song called Do You Hear What I Hear  to sing in our holiday program. (If you’d like to listen while you read, click here.) It gave me goose-bumps every single time we practiced it, and, if I’m honest, I still get a little shiver when I hear it today. The melody is as sweet and simple as the story it tells.

Do You Hear What I Hear
Lyrics by Noel Regney

Said the night wind to the little lamb
Do you see what I see
Way up in the sky little lamb
Do you see what I see
A star, a star
Dancing in the night
With a tail as big as a kite
With a tail as big as a kite

Said the little lamb to the shepherd boy
Do you hear what I hear
Ringing through the sky shepherd boy
Do you hear what I hear
A song, a song
High above the tree
With a voice as big as the sea
With a voice as big as the sea

Said the shepherd boy to the mighty king
Do you know what I know
In your palace wall mighty king
Do you know what I know
A child, a child
Shivers in the cold
Let us bring him silver and gold
Let us bring him silver and gold

Said the king to the people everywhere
Listen to what I say
Pray for peace people everywhere
Listen to what I say
The child, the child
Sleeping in the night
He will bring us goodness and light
He will bring us goodness and light

The child, the child
Sleeping in the night
He will bring us goodness and light

But what really tugged at my heart as a child (and continues to all these years later) is its soft, yet urgent message. “Psst,” it whispers over and over again. “Look. Listen. Wonder. If you don’t pay attention, you’re going to miss it!” Each verse offers a different sign of the season – a star, a song, a child. As a child, I could imagine the world going about its business that long ago Christmas eve and missing these signs. I could vividly imagine being so wrapped up in whatever I was doing that I missed seeing that star or hearing that song. My little heart hurt at the idea of being right there, but missing the chance to see the child, missing the chance to kneel in wonder, missing the chance to witness everything changing that winter night.

Flash forward to today’s world, and the signs of the season are decidedly less simple than the ones memorialized in the song. We have lights, trees, wreaths, and bows. We have carols on every radio station, Christmas every time you turn on the television and Santas in every shop you visit. The signs today are beautiful. They put smiles on faces and a festive spirit in hearts. They add magic to the season. But they can be distracting. We can get so wrapped up in the signs of the season that we may miss the message all these signs are trying to convey. This is why the message of our song remains so moving. “Psst,” it whispers. “Pay attention. You’re going to miss it.”

Paying attention is a learned skill. Paying attention takes practice. The time we spend moving and breathing on our yoga mats is an opportunity to hone our attentiveness. We learn to fully experience each moment. We learn to focus on the each muscle touched by a posture. We learn to discern nuances, gradually coming to better understand our body and our mind. We learn to notice little details which would have escaped us earlier. We learn to explore beyond the obvious. We come to understand that sensations we initially thought were the entire experience of a pose are just the tip of the iceberg.

As our practice deepens, we learn to drop so deeply into our experience that we begin to understand that the postures we move through on our mat are merely signs or trappings. They are the wreaths and the lights of yoga. The message that the signs of yoga are conveying is to love, to cherish, to respect and to honor. We start with ourselves on our mats – setting aside judgment of all the things we notice, instead appreciating our bodies and our practices in whatever form they take. This is a powerful shift that feels good and right and true. It is so transformative that we soon find ourselves approaching others in this same, attentive, loving way. And, so, our lives change.

Like the trappings of the Christmas season, the signs of yoga are beautiful. The postures make us feel good. They can add a sense of well-being to our days that feels almost as magical as the sparkling decorations that surround us in December. For all their beauty, however, it would be a shame to get so wrapped up in these “trappings” that we miss the meaning of the practice. Fortunately, the attentiveness that yoga teaches us is ever-expanding. As our attention develops, it is quite natural for us to “look up,” to seek a deeper understanding of why yoga makes us feel so very good.

It’s at exactly this moment that we grasp that the “star” which has so absorbed our attention, which has drawn us ever closer to our destination, is but a sign. Yoga has drawn us to a quiet, inner place where It is quite natural for us to trust a deeper knowing than anything we’ve ever studied or learned. We see that to love, to cherish, to respect and to honor is the way. In awe, we bow down to the brilliant One who loved us into creation. In wonder, we intend to emulate that powerful love in each relationship in our lives. And, so, our lives change.

The signs of this season are beautiful. Enjoy each and every one. Let them sparkle brightly in your holidays. Enjoy the festive spirit they inspire in your heart. But, pssst, remember to look up to see where they’re leading you.

Merry Christmas!
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About Amy Nobles Dolan

Amy lives with her husband and three children in suburban Philadelphia. She discovered yoga when her third child was still a baby as she searched for a way to reclaim her body as her own. Very quickly, yoga went from a weekly two hours of "me-time" to a life-changing passion. It is Amy’s great joy to be able to share the very real, every-day gifts of yoga with others—through both her yoga classes and her essays about the practice. Become a fan of "Yoga Thoughts" on Facebook. You can read more Yoga Thoughts essays on her website.


2 Responses to “Do You Hear What I Hear?”

  1. Barbara says:

    This. Is. Gorgeous.
    What a beautiful message.

  2. Tanya Lee Markul Tanya Lee Markul says:

    Posting to Elephant Yoga on Facebook and Twitter.

    Just posted to "Featured Today" on the Elephant Yoga homepage.
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    Tanya Lee Markul, Yoga Editor
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