Space Between Sample Practices
Mindful listening is the practice of paying attention to sounds around us, in this moment, with kindness and curiosity. Using our senses, like hearing, helps us create awareness of the present moment and helps still a busy mind. The more we can be focused and truly listening to sounds, including the voices and thoughts of others, the better connected we are to what is happening around us. There are practical benefits to mindful listening, including increased focus, attention and productivity; development of deeper relationships and empathy; and greater self-awareness.
Mindful Listening Practice:
Sit tall and awake. Close your eyes or look at your hands in your lap. Turn your attention to a sound around you - a bell, music, birds, or any noise where you are. When your attention wanders away from the sound, gently bring yourself back to the bell with kindness and curiosity.
Focused, aware, breathing can help people reset their nervous system, especially if practiced regularly. Our breath is always with us and therefore can be one way to anchor our attention. Mindfulness of breath has been practiced for centuries and studies show that mindful breathing can affect our emotions, memories, and cognitive abilities.
Belly Breath Practice:
Close your eyes, or let them softly gaze at the ground. Place a hand on your belly. Breathe in slowly through your nose and see how the hand on your belly lifts. Breathe out slowly through your nose and see how your belly falls back toward your spine. Keep breathing in and out of your nose noticing the hand on your belly rising and falling. Repeat for 5-10 breaths, as long as few minutes. Pause and breathe normally and notice how you feel.
GRATITUDE AND COMPASSION
Gratitude and compassion practices relieve stress, decrease pain, increase health over time, and can lower depression. Our brains are “velcro” for the negative and “teflon” for the positive (Rick Hanson) so we intentionally practice compassion and gratitude to rewire our brains to experience these benefits.
Seeing Jar Practice:
Create a jar with slips of paper for students/your family members to notice and acknowledge each other. You might prompt them with “I noticed that……” or “I am grateful to …….for …….”. Create a routine to read a few pieces paper each day. This practice of being curious and noticing others is the basis for creating empathy and compassion. For example, “I want to acknowledge Siena for getting me a bandaid when I fell.” “I noticed that James waited for me.”