One of my favorite meditation techniques is a listening meditation, which I learned from yoga teacher Heather Tiddens. It’s one of the most effective ways I know to transform my experience of the moment I’m in—it slows me down, softens some ragged edges, and makes me feel more in touch with myself and the world around me. Which is pretty much exactly what I’m shopping for in a meditation technique.
The trick to this one is to disconnect the act of hearing from the mind-machine that assigns meaning, narrative, and importance to the sounds. During the meditation your aim is to, as best you can, turn off your impulse to follow any particular sound, to name a sound, to create a story around the sound, to decided if you like or dislike a sound. Of course, that’s easier said than done, and it takes practice. But even if you only bring the mind-machine down to 80 percent of usual, you’ll still feel the effects. Y’all, finally, a no-fail meditation recipe!
Try it for just two minutes. Set a timer, then close your eyes (or make your gaze a bit fuzzy) and begin to notice what your ears hear. Can you allow the sounds around you to pass through your awareness, or are you drawn to a particular sound? If your mind hijacks your attention toward one sound, that’s OK—take a breath and go back to just noticing all the sounds, subtle and strong, beautiful and discordant and neutral. Allow sound to come and go.
After the timer goes off, take another moment to pause and notice the effects. How do you feel? There are no right answers—you cannot get this wrong. Meditation, like yoga, is a tool for self-inquiry, so wherever those two minutes of listening took you (or didn’t take you) has value.
Enjoy! I dare you not to!