Blue School teacher Annabelle Baylin leads young children in a mindful listening exercise, bringing attention to the sounds in and out of the body.
Meditation - Mindful Listening for Children
DAWN WILLIAMS: Welcome to On Balance, a podcast for parents created by Blue School educators. We know that even in ideal circumstances, finding balance at home and in life can be a challenge. And now, we’ve been called on to be 24 hour a day parents while balancing work responsibilities and our own emotions during this difficult moment in time. If you're finding it particularly difficult, we’re here to partner with you. Together, we will find our way.
This is a bonus episode to our interview with Blue School teacher Annabelle Baylin in which Annabelle will share a mindful listening meditation for children.
ANNABELLE BAYLIN: So this practice is a practice that kids can do. Kids of all ages. It’s a practice that I’ve done with four year olds all the way through, I’ve done it with seniors in high school, and I’ve done it with many adults as well. So this is really a practice that anyone can try. It’s great to do with the whole family, with siblings, kids can do it on their own. So this is mindful listening, where we’re going to really practice bringing our mind to the sounds that we hear in different places. We’re going to practice focusing on just one thing at a time. And see what happens when we can get our bodies very still. Noticing how when we get still, there’s a silence that takes place that allows you to notice new things. So I invite you to practice this with me, and see what you discover when you get into a still place in your body.
For me, I like to sit criss-cross, or on my knees if I’m sitting on the floor. Or if I’m sitting in a chair, just sitting with my feet touching the floor or dangling. And seeing if I can put my hands on my knees, or resting in my lap, one on top of the other. Seeing if I can just slow down. If I can find a moment of stillness in my body. Where I start to notice that the only part of my body that is really moving is my breath. So see if you can try that now, of getting into a position. It doesn’t really matter the shape, as long as you’re able to sit up nice and tall and find some stillness in your body. You know what feels comfortable to you. It’s important though that you can sit up nice and tall, because when our spine is straight, it actually helps us stay alert and focused. When we lie down like when we’re going to go to sleep, it sort of tells our body that it’s time to go to sleep, which is sometimes important, too. But right now we want our bodies to be alert so we can focus. So now that you’re in this mindful body, try closing your eyes. It really helps when we’re doing mindful listening to close your eyes if that feels comfortable. Or you can just look down towards the floor, but try to keep your eyes in one spot if you’re going to do that. For me it really helps to close my eyes.
You’re going to listen in three ways. The first listening that I’d like you to try is listening to sounds that are coming from outside. So you might be near a window, or maybe it’s sounds coming from another room that you’re not in. See if you can get so still and quiet that you notice sounds. You might not know what they are, and that’s okay. You can have a curious mind, a curious stance. Just noticing. And you can bring attention back to my voice, and just take a minute to remember what you heard and if you’re doing this with somebody else, you can even share some of the sounds that you heard.
Now we’re going to listen to the sounds that we hear inside of the room where we are. So if you’re in a room with other people, you might be hearing sounds that their bodies are making. Maybe you hear a sound of a clock, or a fan. Sitting very still. When we get still, we get quiet, we can notice. Okay, coming back. And take a minute to remember what you heard or share with somebody you’re with, what you noticed.
Okay, now this is the one where you have to get probably the quietest of all. You’re going to listen for sounds inside of our body. So see if you can get so still in your body, that maybe you can hear the sound of your breath coming in and out. Maybe you notice a sound coming from your belly. From inside of your mouth if you move your tongue around. Maybe in this place of stillness you can even feel your heartbeat. Maybe. You can notice. Now come back to the sound of my voice. And take a moment to remember what you heard, what you noticed, and if you want you can share it with somebody.
So what you just did was called mindful listening. And you practiced bringing your attention, your mind, to focus on one thing at a time. And I know that when I’m feeling a little bit overwhelmed, like there’s so much going on, or maybe it’s really loud in my house because so many people are doing lots of things, and there’s a lot of noise and activity, when I focus on just one sound in the room or outside or even in my own body, I start to feel a little bit more settled. And I can start to just notice one thing at a time instead of feeling like there’s so much going on. So give it a try when you’re feeling that way. Hope this helps.