Friday, 10 December 2021

Mindful listening

We're all different and that's why it's important to find the methods of mindful practice that work best for us. 

Yesterday we looked at Mindful Observation. Today we're exploring mindful listening. 

The exercises below will help you notice the sounds around you and help you develop the skills to listen more mindfully and without judgement or preconception. As you practise more, you will find it easier to listen without your mind wandering off and you will find it easier to gently guide your wandering focus back to listening. 

A wandering mind creates thoughts. These thoughts are not reality, but we often treat them as such and they affect our emotions. Negative feelings result from negative thoughts. Learning to let your thoughts come and go, gives your mind a rest from its wanderings and it is these rests that can help reset the stress mechanism.

Exercise 1 - Mindful listening - Open your ears

Try this exercise, developed by Alfred James at Pocket Mindfulness

  • Select a piece of music you have never heard before. You may have something in your own collection that you have never listened to, or you might choose to turn the radio dial until something catches your ear.
  • Close your eyes and put on your headphones. Try not to get drawn into judging the music by its genre, title, or artist name before it has begun playing. Instead, ignore any labels and neutrally allow yourself to get lost in the journey of sound for the duration of the song.
  • Allow yourself to explore every aspect of the track. Even if the music isn't to your liking at first, let go of your dislike and give your awareness full permission to climb inside the track and dance among the sound waves.
  • The idea is to just listen, to become fully entwined with the composition without preconception or judgement of the genre, artist, lyrics, or instrumentation.

Exercise 2 - Listening and thoughts

Listen to this mindfulness meditation by Professor Mark Williams of the Oxford Mindfulness Centre. It's a great introduction to listening mindfully.

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