Today’s mindfulness challenge is beautiful in its simplicity. How often do we find ourselves multitasking, leaving on music or TV for company or distraction, or somehow avoiding being alone with ourselves? This exercise is meant to be different from our usual ways of being, without too many detailed instructions.
To start, set a timer for 5 minutes (or longer if you’re up for it). Trust this timer to let you know when to stop. Find a comfortable, supported seated position and allow your eyes to gently close. Until the timer goes off, simply listen. Listen to the ambient noises of the space you are in. Listen for louder sounds as well as softer, subtler sounds you might not have noticed right away. When your mind drifts, as minds tend to do, notice that it has drifted and gently, compassionately guide your mind back to listening. Listen without judgment. Your sole task for these 5 minutes is to just listen. When the timer goes off, listen to that sound for a moment too before opening your eyes. Remember the point is not to feel relaxed but to engage with the world differently and to pay attention. You are invited to open up to what you might discover by simply listening.
This is often one of my go-to mindfulness exercises. It proves that we don’t need a whole lot of complexity to practice paying attention – we have everything we need in the simple sounds around us. I will often amend this to suit short moments: when I need to collect myself in 30 seconds or less I can always close my eyes and listen with my whole attention for a brief moment before proceeding with a clearer headspace. I hope you find this useful in your practice!