Try a Listen Meditation as a Mindfulness Practice
Instructor Sally Kempton is a spiritual guide who teaches yoga and meditation at her Carmel, Calif.-based Awakened Heart Meditation (sallykempton.com). She authored The Heart of Meditation under her monastic name Swami Durgananda.
What is it? While many meditation techniques require solitude and silence, this one has you engage with the sounds all around you; it invites you to work with and use the noise instead of fighting it. Listening meditation also encourages you to harmonize with your surroundings, and, by extension, the universe. The intent is to experience sound as vibration, rather than information. The listening practice is a way of interacting with the environment that allows you to take in the whole energy of the present moment, says Kempton.
What’s it good for? Especially adaptable and portable, listening meditation can be practiced in crowded, noisy situationson a bus, at the office that would be hard on other styles. (Kempton once led a listening meditation workshop in the middle of a busy Whole Foods store!) People with particularly chattering minds may need to couple this practice with a mantra or breathing meditation. However, many people welcome the chance to focus outward rather than inward and find that listening meditation is one of the easier techniques to undertake. You’ll come away from it feeling refreshed, expanded, and at ease with your environment, declares Kempton.
How long does it take? Try for five minutes at first, then add a minute or two until you can do it for 15 or 20 minutes at a time. Set your Chime Meditation Timer by Now & Zen for five minutes and then increase as you get better at this practice.
How Do I Do It?
1. Set your Meditation Chime Timer for 5 minutes (increase the minutes as you improve). Sit in a comfortable position and close (or half close) your eyes.
2. To get centered and quiet the mind, first bring your awareness to your breath, noticing but not trying to change it.
3. Now open your ears and bring your awareness to the sounds around you. The goal is to listen to the whole range of sounds, without favoring one over another and without identifying them. Hear the quiet sounds and the silences as well as the dominant sounds.
4. When you find yourself identifying sounds (there’s a fire engine; thats the cat scratching the rug), gently redirect your attention from listening to a specific noise back to hearing the whole spectrum of sounds.
5. To end, slowly open your eyes, stand, and carry this heightened awareness with you for as long as you can.
Tip: Do a one-minute mini-listening meditation while standing in line or sitting at your desk, or anytime you feel frazzled: Close your eyes, breathe, and listen to the sounds around you. Like the practice of counting to 10 when you’re in the heat of an argument, this will help you pause, center, and regroup.
Zen Meditation Timers, The Digital Zen Alarm Clock in Solid Walnut
adapted from Natural Health Magazine
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