A 10 minute guided meditation on mindful listening with Theo Koffler, founder of Mindfulness without Borders
For this meditation, I invite you to find a position that makes you feel comfortable. It can be sitting in a chair or laying down on the floor.
To get started, take a moment to bring your attention to your present surroundings. I invite you to move your eyes around the room and notice your environment.
If you want, you can move your head from side to side, wiggle your body, raise your shoulders up to reach your ears and then drop them. Do that a few times, just to relax into your body and settle into a posture that’s most comfortable for you.
Feel the places where your body makes contact with the chair or the ground.
And if you’re comfortable, gently close your eyes or look for a reference point in front of you, where you can return your eyes. When they get distracted.
Now, bring your attention to the flow of your breath. You don’t need to breathe in a special way. Your body knows how to breathe. Simply notice each breath coming into the body with an in-breath and leaving the body with an out-breath; breathing in with an in-breath, breathing out with the out-breath.
And if you notice your mind is caught up in thoughts, concerns, your to-do list, know that that’s normal. That’s what our minds do. They distract us from the present moment. Simply notice what is distracting you and gently let it go by redirecting your attention back to the breath.
Now I invite you to direct your attention to the experience of mindful listening. Stretch your listening to the farthest sounds you can hear.
It may be the whispers of someone’s voice in the distant background, a door shutting, or the rush of a car passing by. Notice the movement of these sounds outside of the body. Allow them to come and go just like the breath comes and goes.
For some of you, the sounds you may hear may be comfortable; for others, the sound may be neutral; and for some, it can be unpleasant. The idea is to be okay with the experience just as it is, whether pleasant, neutral, or unpleasant comes. Just notice it and know it’s fleeting.
In aligning yourself with this quality of attention, you can get a fuller experience of the moment. Rather than judge your experience, just accept it as it is. Hang out with the experience with kindness.
Now I invite you to direct your attention to more immediate sounds that surround you. It may be the sound of a bird chirping right outside your window. Perhaps there’s music in the background, or even the sounds of the hum of your computer. Notice these sounds around you and just listen, experience each sound as they appear linger and vanish.
Don’t judge. What you hear, just listen, observe, and let each sound be just what it is without wanting to change it.
Now I invite you to bring your attention to the sounds from within. Listen, gently, to the sound of your own breath. Listen to the sensations in the body. You may be aware of the sound of your breath entering and leaving the tip of the nose. You may be aware of the sounds of your heart beating or a stomach that is grumbling.
You may even notice that a sound comes from a sense of silence.
The intention is to pay attention to the sounds and the sensations with an attitude of curiosity, as if you’re becoming aware of these experiences for the very first time.
And if you get restless or impatient, notice these feelings. And as kindly as you can, turn your attention back to the experience of listening to the feelings, the thoughts, the emotions, and the sounds from within.
And for the last few sips of breath, notice the arc of sounds. Notice how they arise, linger and fall away.
Knowing that one of the greatest gifts of meditation is noticing, noticing what you are feeling and not giving into the impulse of judging it, holding on, ignoring, or pushing away. Let each in-breath be a new beginning and each out-breath a letting go.
And as you are ready, open your eyes and return your attention to your surroundings. Stretch the body again, in ways that are comfortable and notice how you feel.
I acknowledge your choice of taking time out of your day to practice mindful listening.
And as best as you can bring this expanded and accepting awareness to the rest of your day.
Written and performed by Theo Koffler
Audio mastering by Christian Parry and Chris Boulton