Often we use the sensation of the breath as an anchor in meditation. However, focusing on the sounds around you can also be a comforting way to ground yourself. Try this guided practice to gently focus awareness when in need of a moment of calm.
A 6-Minute Guided Meditation for Focused Awareness
1. Let’s start by bringing our primary attention to the sounds in the room, wherever you are. Right now I’m hearing a clock somewhere. A window is open where I am, so I’m also hearing some birds.
2. Notice any thoughts that arise. While I’m listening to the sounds in the room, I’m not blocking the thoughts and emotions that come up.
I think of this kind of like driving a car: My primary attention is on the road in front of me, but I’m still aware of what’s happening in my peripheral vision, what’s happening in my rearview mirror, and if I have kids in the back seat of the car, what’s happening there.
Our primary attention is on sound, but we don’t block the thoughts and emotions that show up, we just don’t get caught up in them.
That’s what we do with this meditation. Our primary attention is on sound, but we don’t block the thoughts and emotions that show up, we just don’t get caught up in them. We notice they’re there and gently, with soft attention, keep our primary attention on listening.
3. Keep going on your own, listening to what’s happening around you, and allowing what comes up in the equivalent of your peripheral vision to come and go, just like pedestrians along the road when you’re driving. Remember, if your mind wanders, that’s okay. That’s what minds do. The moment you notice that your mind has wandered, that’s a moment of awareness. That’s something worth celebrating. And then, bring your primary attention back to the sounds in the room.
4. Before we finish, check in with yourself and see if there’s something bubbling up. An emotion, maybe something you’re grateful for, maybe a strong feeling. Whatever it is, see if you can bring that same soft light of awareness to being with that emotion, not thinking about it, not engaging in it, not getting caught up in stories around it, but just feeling that emotion, with a broad floodlight of awareness. If it’s too much, you can move back to noticing sounds. Sit with what comes up, notice if there’s any tension in your body. You don’t need to change anything. Just noticing the tension usually will soften it. Stay with this emotion for another second or two, and rest.
Want to learn how you and your kids can become more mindful? Check out the Inner Kids Collaborative, a pay-what-you-can online resource offering mindfulness classes for kids, families, and educators.
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