Listening is a skill that we often need to cultivate and develop. In using this program, you stand to gain the most benefit by listening actively.
From the selection and sequencing of the music to the sonic neurotechnologies incorporated into the soundtracks, MFM II has been carefully structured to invite active listening, which implies mindfulness. Simply put, mindfulness is the art of paying attention. In today’s world of busyness and distractibility, we do few things mindfully or with full attention. We talk on our phone while cooking dinner, we read a book or watch TV while exercising, and we seldom pay attention to what our mind or body is doing while we are involved in a task. A primary goal of this program is to facilitate the listener’s awareness of and attention to auditory stimulation so that listening is no longer a passive process but an active one, the benefits of which can carry over into all aspects of our lives. Although the content and structure of MFM II has been formed with the goal of active listening in mind, the listener’s participation plays a key role in this process.
Suggested Activities for Adults
It is only partially true to say that it is easier for adults than children to just listen and pay attention to the music. Children always want to be doing something, but the truth is, so do most adults! Resist the temptation to feel like you must be doing something else during your listening session to feel that you have been productive. Just listen. Pay attention to what you are hearing—the beautiful music, the interesting nature sounds—and the emotions it induces within you.
Let this be one of the times during your day, or perhaps the only time, when you take time out to be mindful of just one task at a time. Many people reported that they looked forward to the relaxing and energizing islands of time spent with MFM during their hectic days. You will be surprised how quickly your listening sessions seem to pass when you are simply listening mindfully, which is the ideal way to listen to this program.
If you prefer, you may also use this time to undertake some creative endeavor that you would not normally make time for, such as drawing, painting, or some sort of craft. Stick with activities that allow you to continue to attend to the music.
Activities such as reading, writing, working on the computer, or watching TV are not recommended during listening, as they tend to be attention-absorbing and will detract from your active listening.
Suggested Activities for Children
Although some children are content just to sit and listen to the music, many may want to be occupied with something else while they are listening. This is fine, keeping in mind that you want their listening to be as active a process as possible. The best activities during listening are those that do not absorb too much attention, such as coloring, drawing, puzzles, or finger-painting. Massage may help to keep your child relaxed during listening, especially for an anxious child who resists wearing headphones.
For children who are a little older, quiet games are also fine during listening. Games that require frequent verbal interaction are less ideal, but can be used if needed. Again, reading, watching TV, and playing computer games are not recommended, as little attention will likely be paid to listening. However, watching a familiar video that the child has previously seen multiple times is acceptable. Since the child is already familiar with the original soundtrack of the video, watching familiar visual input and having novel auditory input may help to promote active listening. Just remember to turn the volume on the video off!
If you would like to enhance your listening experience further, try stimulating other senses while you listen, such as burning a scented candle or using massage or deep pressure. Continue your practice of mindfulness and attention in your other activities throughout the day, remaining aware of your auditory world and reducing random noise in your environment, such as turning off the radio or TV when no one is listening or watching. Practice the art of conversation around the dinner table rather than eating in front of the TV. Practice singing (the shower is always a good place! and being in silence—a rare treat for most of us. It is good auditory health to let our ears rest.