LAYERS OF SOUND: This mindful listening practice asks your students to explore what they can hear around them in an intentional way. Our hearing is so sensitive. We don't have any way to block out sound the way we can close our eyes to reduce what we see. All of the sounds around us are competing for our attention all of the time. Learning to attune our hearing to the sounds that are most important at the moment is a life skill that children are called upon to exercise from the moment they enter school.
- First find a still and comfortable position with your body. It's fine to sit in a chair, or lean against the wall. The most important thing is that you are comfortable enough to be still just for a few minutes. It may be helpful to close your eyes for this activity. If it doesn't feel comfortable to close your eyes, let them rest on the ground right in front of you.
- Now that you are still and comfortable, take a deep breath or two to help you get ready for what is going to come next.
- The first thing that we are going to listen for are the sounds that are far away from us. Open your ears as wide as you can make them, and imagine stretching your hearing way out beyond the room you are sitting in, and maybe even the house that room is in, all the way to the outdoors. Listen carefully and find the furthest away sounds that you can hear.
- When you start hearing sounds, don't worry about identifying the sound, or figuring out what it making the sound. Just notice it exactly as it is. (Give your students a few minutes of silence here).
- Now that you have heard the farthest away sounds you can find, bring your hearing in a little bit closer, and find the sounds that are in this house. Again, don't worry about figuring out what is making the sounds, just listen for them.
- Next we are going to bring our hearing even closer, to find the sounds that are in this room. Reach your hearing into each corner of the room and see what sounds you can find.
- After you have found all of the sounds in the room, we are going to bring our hearing to the closest place of all – our own bodies.
- Pull your hearing all the way to your body. Pull it out of the room and turn it to the sounds that you can find your own body making. Listen carefully. Your body might have a lot to say.
- After a few moments of listening to your own body, gently open your eyes.
Share the Experience Together: Ask your kids how they felt while doing this. How do they feel afterwards? There are no right or wrong answers. This is about learning to feel comfortable with some stillness and noticing how they react and how they feel.
Tips on the Environment / Saftey: Let your kids know that they do not have to close their eyes if they don't feel comfortable doing so. You can explore doing this with eyes open (looking down in front of you) and eyes closed to see if they notice which may be better for them. And if they do close their eyes, you can let them know that you will have your eyes open making sure they are always safe. The point is they feel they can do this practice while learning to be explorers within their own bodies and minds.
See this and many more activities in LFY founder Jennifer Cohen Harpers book, Little Flower Yoga for Kids: A Yoga and Mindfulness Program to Help Your Child Improve Attention and Emotional Balance.
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