The Listening Mind

When was the last time you really listened to a piece of music? I mean really listened, you gave the piece of music your undivided attention, without expectation or judgment.

An intellectual once approached a Zen Master because he wanted to learn more about Zen. The Zen Master poured the visitor a cup of tea. When the cup was full, the Zen Master continued pouring and the tea began to flow over the brim of the cup. The intellectual said, "Stop, my cup is full, it cannot hold any more!" The Zen Master replied, "Yes, and like your cup, when your mind is full of your own ideas, I can't give you anything more. You must first empty your cup before I can give you anything."

The Listening Mind Exercise

Choose a piece of music you are not familiar with. Preferably something from a New Age, Classical, Indian, Ragga, or Middle Eastern Genre. Find a place to sit quietly to listen to the piece you have chosen.

In order to prepare for this exercise, grab a notebook and do a mind dump, just write down anything and everything that pops into your head. When you think you have cleared your mind. Sit quietly with your eyes closed and take a deep breath. As you inhale, imagine a cool breeze moving into your head. Feel it as it swirls around reaching every part of your brain, emptying it of all its contents. As you exhale, imagine the breath removing your memory, your thoughts, everything. Empty your bowl completely.

Inhale the clean slate, exhale every thought, let it all go.

Now, with an empty, active mind, listen to the music you have selected. Preferably with headphones on. Experience the music on a sensual level. Allow the sound to penetrate every cell. Receive the rhythm, the energy, the emotion. Allow the piece to move you in unexpected ways. Listen with your whole self.

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