Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Mindful Listening in the good old summertime

I love summer as I love all the seasons but each is special for different reasons.  Mindful listening in summer is about the birds, trees, bugs and water sounds.  In winter I love to listen to the silence that comes during and after a big snowfall, the absolute stillness.

“A bird does not sing because it has an answer, it sings because it has a song.”
 – Proverb

I love summer.
I love the smell of the air, the warm air temperatures, the veggies in my garden, wearing flip flops, and of course, the beach.  Certainly the temperature is what makes summer, summer.  But there is something present in summer that is largely absent in winter and this ingredient is key for our summer mindfulness recipe – unique summer sounds.

Birds singing, frogs croaking, cicadas buzzing, leaves blowing on the trees, and the warm ocean waves as they break at the shore… the sounds of summer make it come alive.

One of my favorite mindfulness practices is the art of listening.  Sound is always in the present moment – we can’t experience it in the past or the future. So sound becomes a wonderful anchor that we can use to practice being in the present.  Mindful listening is not about TRYING to hear anything.  It is instead about simply allowing whatever sound waves are in the air to rest on your ears.

Steps to practice mindful summer listening:

1.    Pick a place where you can listen to summer sounds – next to a window, outside, or at the beach.  You can set a timer for 5-10 minutes to start.
2.    Close your eyes, and allow your experience of listening to take center stage in your field of awareness.  Begin by noticing whatever sound waves are in the air.
3.    Call your mind back to listening each time it wanders.  It might take a minute or a moment for your mind to wander, but it will likely do so. This is normal.  Your task is simply to notice that your mind is wandering, and bring your mind back to the experience of listening.  You might have to nudge your wandering attention back to sound over and over again.  This is part of the practice.
4.    Continue holding the experience of sound in the center stage of your awareness.  Notice the birds, the trees, or the waves.

Although mindfulness is about being with what is, whether it is pleasant or unpleasant, being mindful of summer sounds brings a great opportunity for a pleasant experience (that is, if you’re a nature lover!).  It also helps us to slow down and appreciate the summer, for we know it can go by fast.

Contributing Author:
Corinne Zupko  – Founder of and

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