Being present to the sounds around you is another mindfulness technique that enhances our awareness and leads to increased focus. Mindful listening practice can help to increase the length of time children are able to focus. For children entering school this is essential as they will be expected to listen and follow longer and more complex instructions.
I always start out with mindful breathing.
Start out with 5 cleansing belly breaths.
Relax your tummy. Breathe in all the way down to the bottom of your belly. Imagine it is filling up like a balloon.
Then let the air out slowly through your mouth. With each breath feel your body getting nice and relaxed.
For the rest of the activity breathe normally.
Mindful Listening Activities
Here are my favourite mindful listening activities I use with my kids and students.
- Listen to music- listen to a song three times- I love modern classical or instrumental music but it’s up to you.
- Listen with eyes open.
- Then closed.
- Depending on the age and enthusiasm of the students or child get them to add movement.
- Some possible questions to ask after they have listened to the song: What did you notice? If they talked about the instruments the first time, ask them if they can identify any other instruments after they have listened with their eyes closed? How did the music make you feel? etc.
- Sounds All Around- For one minute listen to the sounds around you. Then write or draw the sounds you hear. Compare notes. Variations: I do this sometimes at bed time to break the ‘I don’t want to go to bed’ resistance. I will say in a surprised whisper, “What’s that? Can you hear that?” Then get one or both girls to name what they have heard. Other great locations are the beach, park or while camping.
- Triangle or cymbals-Hit the triangle or clap the cymbals together. With eyes opened, or closed, get your students or child to put their hands up when the sound stops. Variations: I was recently camping. We used the call of the Kookaburra for some mindful listening practice. When it started we would stop whatever we were doing and listen until it stopped laughing at us. Then, I would start singing until Leeloo would say ‘Please stop singing!’ Clearly the sound of my voice is not ideal for mindful listening.
- Singing bowl-Your focus is to keep the resonance going, for one minute, while your child or students listen. Once they are distracted they raise their hand. Then you talk about what it was that distracted them. It may have been another sound in the immediate environment or a thought. This is the beginning of the discussion that during mindful listening or meditation we can choose to think about thoughts, sounds or any distractions like they are clouds. We try to observe them or look at them in a detached way, like they are clouds in the sky. When you realise you have stopped listening say ‘thank you’, let the thought cloud float away and return to mindful listening. The second time around practise allowing the thoughts to pass.
- Guided Meditations- There are plenty of books out there that have wonderful guided meditations for children. Starbright and Moonbeam by Maureen Garth have beautiful guided meditations. I have read and recorded some of the stories for my girls so they can listen before bed or during quiet moments in the day. If you find a meditation on Youtube or in a book that speaks to your child’s or students’ interests or needs always read or listen to them first. Sometimes the language can be confusing or unfamiliar. It’s better to be prepared so you can make prior adjustments to the story that better suits your child, family or the context where it is being delivered.
Happy Listening! May your world come to life, this week, with sound and presence.
P.S. If you or someone you know would like to have Mindful Storytelling at your school or kinder please Click on this link to find out more and book today!