Beginners Series: Beginning to Listen

Welcome to week three!

How did you do with the first two exercises in the Beginner Series? Do you feel like you are becoming more in control of your posture and your breathing? Did you notice any differences between the time of day, week or month you practiced?

This week we are going to begin to listen.

We are all constantly listening to something, but just how often do we really hear?

The world is so full of beautiful sounds – birds singing, children laughing, music, the whoosh of the wind, even silence has a sound. But in our busy lives noises become intertwined are they rarely get the attention the deserve. For example; I am sitting right now and the TV is on, three kids are playing in the room next to me shouting and whooping. The back door is open and I can hear the traffic going up the street. I am paying attention to my computer screen, the noise is in the back ground and all the sounds are blending into each other.

“Let go of your mind and be mindful, close your ears and listen” – Rumi.

Listening mind fully it is about paying attention, in the moment, to the noises going on around you. It may just be that you are sitting in your garden paying attention to the noise it makes or it may be you are listening to your friend or colleague speak – giving them your ear.

  • Set your posture (seated, kneeling or laying down) and if you wish, close your eyes.
  • Simply inhale and exhale for a few moments.
  • Now, bring your attention to the noises around you, pick one to focus on and give it a name.
  • After a few moments choose another sound, focus on it and give it a name.
  • Continue this way for ten minutes, choosing sounds, focussing on them and naming them.
  • Note now what sensations the sounds brought to you. It could be they brought a feeling, a memory or even a smell.
  • Practice this excercise each day this week and see how your skills of listening change.
  • If you are keeping a journal, makes some notes on your experience.

Next week we will lay the practice down with a simple body scan, exploring how the body feels as you examine it from toe to top.

I hope you will enjoy practicing this basic listening exercise.  We love to hear about your personal experiences, so if you would like to share or have a question, leave a comment below.

Have a wonderful, mindful week everyone.

~x~

Learn more about Mindfulness.

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Beginners Series: Beginning to Breathe

Welcome to week two!

How did you do with the first exercises in the Beginner Series? Do you feel like you are becoming more in control of your posture? Did you notice any differences between the time of day, week or month you practiced?

This week we are going to begin to breathe.

The breath runs through the foundations of mindfulness but so many of us forget our breath, the life that runs within us all.

When we become upset it is quite normal for our breathing to be come rapid and shallow and for our thoughts to scatter. It is part of our evolutionary design and activates our fight or flight response.Learning to calm the breath in reactive situations will all the mind to calm naturally and bring clarity to the situation. Mindfulness is often described as a whole life practice and those who live mindfully learn to know the signs that they are reacting mindlessly to a situation before it becomes unmanageable.

“Breathing in, I calm my body and mind. Breathing out I smile.” – Thich Nhat Hanh.

This short breathing technique is really good to help you learn to fully observe your breath and the sensations that arise whilst you are in observation. It should only take about few minutes. Begin by reading through the routine to familiarise yourself, or work with a partner.

 

  • Set your posture (seated, kneeling or laying down) and if you wish, close your eyes.
  • Observe your breath as it is now.
  • Begin to slow the breath gradually but don’t over inhale, gulp or puff the air back out.
  • Simply inhale and exhale
  • If you feel it would help, adopt a counting method for each inhalation and exhalation. i.e. inhale – count 1, count 2, count 3, count 4 then exhale – count 1, count 2, count 3, count 4.
  • Don’t worry at this stage if your inhalations and exhalations are of different length. The main point of this exercise is observation.
  • Continue your inhalations and exhalations for at least ten rounds of breath.
  • When you are ready, bring your attention back to the room and if you had your eyes closed, open them.
  • Note any sensations that the breath brought to you.
  • If you are keeping a journal, makes some notes on your experience.

Next week we will open our ears and do some listening.

I hope you will enjoy practicing this basic breathing exercise.  We love to hear about your personal experiences, so if you would like to share or have a question, leave a comment below.

Have a wonderful, mindful week everyone.

~x~

Learn more about Mindfulness.

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