Mindfulness Booster: Listening

As life continues to inch towards some semblance of normalcy there will be a natural tendency to lose sight of some of the good habits we built during the pandemic. Whether we miss a day in our newly found exercise streak or the late night snacks start creeping back in, a regression to the mean is normal. Acknowledging that, we here at the RRT want to provide some encouragement to keep up one healthy habit – mindfulness based practice. Today we start with a return to one of the more basic skills, mindful listening.

It is natural for humans to want to analyze every sound we hear and integrate it into what we think we know about what is doing on, consider the implications for the future, and so on. While the can be helpful at times, at other times we want to approach all the sounds in a non-judgmental way, just noticing what is there.

Most of what we hear, or at least what we attend to, is influenced by past experiences and expectations. With mindful listening, we can achieve a neutral, present awareness and so reduce our level of reactivity, leading to a lower sense of distress.

For this exercise, we encourage you to find a piece of music you have never heard before. Having a hard time coming up with one? Check out this list of 38 Classical Hidden Gems or check out the lesser known work by Haydn below, String Quartet in E-Flat, Op. 20/1.

If you have headphones, putting them on may add to the experience. Once you are ready, close your eyes and hit play. Do not judge the music by its genre, artist, or title. Let yourself focus on the song you have chosen, note by note, instrument by instrument. Follow the piece where it takes you, and notice what thoughts, images, or sensations arise in your body.

The idea is to just listen without preconception of the lyrics or instruments. Keep listening, and let yourself be intrigued by what you find!