Tag Archives: listening

Mindful Fox Listens Deeply

Last week, Om School’s Pre-K class learned to listen with Fox Ears.  We heard the story of Mindful Fox who listens so deeply to the sounds of the world that she can hear mice beneath the surface of the snow and, in summer,  can even hear the sound of grapes growing.

Despite her name, Mindful Fox is only mindful some of the time.  She’s cunning and clever, yes, but sometimes she forgets her mindfulness.  And on this particular spring morning, a little flower fairy caught her eye and off she ran.  Before Fox knew it, she was lost.  Thank goodness she remembered her mindful listening.

By opening her ears and listening with her whole body, she recognized the sounds of home — her little kit brothers and sisters, the hens of the nearby farm, and the sounds of the farmer’s children at play.  By listening deeply, Mindful Fox found her way home.

405After the story, we took a “listening walk” around the farm discovering sounds — bees, wind, water, and hens.  Then we made glittery fox masks to remind us to practice listening with Fox Ears at home.

To listen like Fox,  it helps to put on our Mountain Bodies — our quiet, mindful bodies.  We can be mountains sitting, standing, walking, or lying down.  Being mountains means being aware of our bodies.  Then we open our Fox Ears.  This means that we listen all the way into our heart and tummy.

Mindful listening is an exercise in training our attention.  It’s also more than that, though.  Through listening deeply we can help relieve suffering in ourselves, in one another, and in the world.  When we listen to someone with the single purpose of allowing them to empty themselves completely, we create a space for compassion to grow.

To learn more about deep listening, check out this short interview with Thich Nhat Hanh.

Ocean Breathing, Mindful Breathing

IMG_1594Last week at Om School, the children practiced mindful breathing and enjoyed drawing what they discovered in their Mindful Schools workbooks.

First we put on our Mountain Bodies.  Then we opened our Fox Ears.  Next we just breathed normally… in and out… calm and at ease.  We call this our Ocean Breathing.

After a moment of breathing like this together, kids put one hand in the air — then placed it on their belly.  We continued to breathe like this for a few moments.  Some children noticed that their hand was moving up and down, in and out, with their belly.

Next, we placed one hand on our chest.  Breathing normally, some children noticed that their chest expands and contracts with each inhale and exhale.  Some children did not feel any movement here… so we tried something else.

mindful breathingI asked children to place a hand under their nose and see if they felt anything.  This one worked for everyone.  We breathed together like this for three breaths.  Then I asked the kids to draw what they experienced.

Why mindful breathing?  As Deborah Schoeberlein, author of, “Mindful Teaching and Teaching Mindfulness,” writes in this article:

“Practicing mindfulness enhances cognitive functioning (including memory, concentration and performance), improves emotion regulation and resilience, increases self-awareness (including of one’s own stress level) and promotes relaxation for the body as well as rest for the mind (including sleep).”

To my Om School kids and families — don’t forget that, in honor of President’s Week, we don’t have class this Wednesday, February 19th.  Until then, I hope you’re enjoying your practice!

With metta,

Mindful Bodies, Mindful Listening

IMG_1551Last week at Om School, children began working with the Mindful Schools workbooks.  Lesson One of this research-based curriculum introduces kids to mindful bodies and mindful listening.

We began by sitting upright and tall like a solid mountain.  Children sat like this for a moment with eyes open and then tried sitting like a mountain with eyes closed.  We noticed that it became very quiet while we sat with eyes closed.

This led us to the second part of the lesson, Mindful Listening.  To help us listen mindfully, I gave the kids the image of putting on Fox Ears.  Fox listens very deeply.  He can hear the sound of mice deep beneath the snow… and in summer, he can even hear the sound of grapes growing.  We have to be very still to listen like fox.  We also have to listen not just with our ears, but also with our heart and way down into our belly.

Mindful BodyNext we listened with the bell.  We listened with eyes open and then with eyes closed.  When we couldn’t hear the sound any more, we raised our hands.  With eyes closed, the bell seemed to sound for a very long time.

Finally, we closed our eyes and listened to the sounds outside of our classroom and inside our own bodies.  We heard the sound of the rain, an airplane going by, and some children even heard their own heart beating.

At today’s class we’ll explore mindful breathing.  We’ll also continue to expand on the themes of mindful listening and mindful speech with folk tales, and discover what’s happening on the farm.

I’m posting more photos of the children’s work on our Facebook page.  Be sure to stop by and enjoy these little treasures.

With metta,