What is mindfulness?
Mindfulness is awareness, it is the purposeful paying of attention to one’s experience in the present moment, non-judgmentally. This may seem simple at first, but in reality this is an intricate and profound practice.
Why practice mindfulness?
There is a growing body of scientific literature that demonstrates the incredible effect mindfulness has on psychological and physical wellbeing. These include significant reductions in symptoms such as stress and anxiety and effectiveness in treating a range of conditions including depression, psychosis and addictions. Mindfulness has also become an important component in mental training for a range of disciplines such as athletics.
However, mindfulness isn’t only about stress relief or performance enhancement. Without cultivating our skills of attention, we can be prone to sleepwalking through life, largely being lost in thought without being aware of our own minds and mental processes. Mindfulness helps to pull us out of this state, and meditation is the formal practice of observing and training our own minds.
Why listen mindfully?
The process of listening to music is in fact an ideal one for cultivating mindfulness and for developing this quality of awareness. Mindfulness is also a powerful way for us to become better and more perceptive listeners, being more present for both the music we hear as well as our reaction to it.
The purpose of this series is two-pronged, and each of these compliments and strengthens the other. This course is structured like a meditation course, beginning with introductory concepts and progressing more deeply into the practice. As we become more mindful we become better listeners, finding richer and more fulfilling experiences when listening to any kind music. As our skills of such listening develop, these in turn yield greater mindfulness both in our formal practice as well as in our daily lives.
What kind of content will I hear in the course?
In this course, spoken sessions alternate with musical tracks. You’ll find two kinds of spoken tracks: theory and practice. The theoretical concepts are essential to developing the skills of mindfulness. The guided mindfulness practices, namely the meditations, are carefully paired with the musical tracks that follow each one, and these pieces music relate to the mindfulness principles in certain ways.
How should I work through the content?
While you can listen to the theory snippets anytime, the modules are designed so that the meditations plus the following musical tracks are heard in one go. The meditations thus serve to guide us into a particular headspace to listen to these pieces of music, and the latter part of each meditation will discuss some features of the work and how one can approach listening to it, giving cues that seek to enrich the experience. While the modules are structured like a course, you can return to and do any meditation as many times as you like: they’re not bits of information you learn and move on from, but instead practices that we can keep coming back to. This also goes for the meditations you’ll find in the Additional Content section.