Monday, May 9, 2011

A Listening Meditation For Artists and Solo Creatives

I've always loved just going into parks and sitting quietly with the elements of nature around me. Even if I was still right next to a busy street! A few years ago, I began to develop a "listening meditation" while sitting in the park that I realized was fun as well as calming. I found it to be a great way to take a breather from intense work or when feeling anxious, tense or in need of a break in general. It is the kind of meditation that can really deepen the more you do it.

Read through it first. This is a long description, because I wanted to describe the subtleties and nuances of it. But the actual meditation is simple and easy to do.

First of all, start by going for a walk. That is always a great way to decompress from tension or worry. Breathe deeply from your belly. Walk to a place where you can be in nature. This can be a park, even a small one...You can actually do this anywhere, even a coffee shop, but it's especially nice out near some trees. Just be sure you can sit quietly without being disturbed. Let your eyes focus in a relaxed way as far into the distance as you can, such as at the sky, down the road to the furthest house you can see, or at the tops of trees. We usually do work that is close up, so this distance-focusing will help balance and relax the eye muscles. Be very gentle about it.

Keep breathing in a relaxed, yet deep way, down into the belly. Whenever you feel ready, start to listen to the sounds around you. Very slowly, and with gentle attention, begin discerning what you are hearing. Use your attention to distinguish the different bird calls you hear. You may be very surprised to realize there are quite a few different birds in the trees around you, all making different sounds. Then focus on what else you hear. Is there a road near you? What sounds are there? Different motors from trucks and cars, the sound of brakes or car doors? How about human sounds? Laughter, babies, women, men? How many dog sounds can you hear? There are also things like tree branches rustling, a paper bag blowing by, a chair being scraped across concrete. See if you can give your attention to actually counting the different sounds you hear (this is just a guide, no need to try to be exact!) Just sit quietly, listening and gently attentive for as long as you like.

This meditation can have a few benefits.
- It quiets the mind (in spite of being about sound!)
- If you feel agitated or anxious, it gives you something specific yet calming to focus on outside of yourself.
- It demonstrates the incredible abundance that is all around you all the time. All you need to do is draw your attention to it.
- It can give you a tremendous appreciation for the subtleties of the sense of hearing.

That's it! I hope you enjoy playing with this "listening meditation." Let me know what you think after you've tried it by leaving a comment. I would love to hear how it worked for you.