When I speak of listening in this context, I am referring to the act which brings you to the present moment, the awareness which allows the stone to simply be, and the understanding that your role as stone-worker is one of facilitator.
This type of listening relies on all of your senses being attuned not only to your present outer environment, but also your inner space. When I build with a clear mind and heart, it allows me to listen to stone in a way that is not accessible when I am busy thinking about other things. For the sake of this article I will call this deep listening.
For those of you who have worked in the craft for many years and developed a familiarity with it, you have most likely reached a point where the physical actions of building are second nature. That is, when you swing a hammer or pick up a stone, you aren’t engaging your conscious mind to make this happen. You simply pick up the stone, pick a line and cut it, place it in the wall, etc. When you are in this state of openness when building, it allows deeper intention to come through into your work. I have found that this state of flow and space really only comes with practice and experience. It is hard to settle into this kind of rhythm when you are new at something as it engages the part of your mind which needs to lay things out and go over the steps multiple times before committing to an action.
What becomes possible after you have reached this point of familiarity with the materials and process is something much greater than one might think. It is, in fact, more of a place of allowing than thinking. Most of the time we have a running commentary in our thoughts about the things that make up our lives. This is the mental chatter that can fill up every moment in the day. I suggest that as you work and find your place in the flow of the day, this can be an opportunity to invite in the wise part of yourself to the job. As you are swinging the hammer and laying stone, instead of using that mental space to think of something or somebody else, consciously invite your wisdom to come forth. Allow that part of yourself that knows without question, that trusts in the process and in the inherent good in your heart to come forth. Open the doorway to the part of you that other people love and celebrate to be a part of the work you are creating.
This is the opportunity we have when we allow the silence within to hold the space for who we are. I find that only through deep listening is this part of us accessed. Building can be a meditation of a different kind, and through our movements we can bring forth the deeper joy of making something beautiful and useful.