World Listening Day | 5 Practices to Encourage Listening to Your Inner Voice

July 18, 2023

Everyone listen up – today is World Listening Day! Started in 2010 to celebrate the birthday of composer and environmentalist Raymond Murray Schafer, today we invite you to consider the benefits of listening more fully and deeply. Created by the World Listening Project, this day is meant to provide an opportunity to “[understand] the world and its natural environment, societies and cultures through practices of listening and field recording.” 

While we often think of listening in the context of interactions with others, the Center for Mind-Body Medicine provides practices that encourage listening to ourselves, taking time to be mindful of our inner voice and reflecting upon our wants and needs with an emphasis on self-care and mental health. This World Listening Day, try these five practices to promote slowing down, quieting our minds, and listening to our inner voices.

Soft Belly Breathing

Our signature technique, Soft Belly Breathing, is a great place to start for bringing awareness to your inner voice. The practice promotes relaxation and quiets the stress response, allowing you to gain perspective on your emotions. Through regular practice, you can little by little learn to react less and respond more to your emotions. 

To get started, find somewhere quiet and peaceful, such as a cozy spot in your home or a beautiful garden or park. Take long, deep breaths in through the nose and out through the mouth. You can try thinking “soft” as you breathe in and “belly” as you breathe out. Your mind and body will start feeling calmer as you reach a state of “concentrative meditation.” As you go through the practice, you may find that some negative emotions come up. Listen to those emotions and reflect upon why they’re surfacing. Honor your practice by leaning into any discomfort. After a few minutes of Soft Belly Breathing, you’ll start to feel your nervous system calming, your belly relaxing, and that your breaths are deeper and fuller. This can also be an opportunity to listen to the world around you, such as a singing bird, a babbling brook, the wind in the trees, the hum of a radiator, or the whoosh of a fan. Appreciate these sounds and what they add to your environment.

Guided Imagery

Guided imagery can be a powerful tool when trying to access our inner voice. Start by using Safe Place Imagery, a place your mind can go if troubling memories or stressful feelings surface. Draw on happy memories to create a feeling of calm and peace. After finding your Safe Place and achieving this peaceful state, you may be able to meet your Wise Guide, an Inner Guide and manifestation of your wisdom and intuition. After tapping into this Inner Guide, take note of what comes up. What is your inner voice expressing? Really listen to your Guide and don’t disregard anything. While something may seem out of place or insignificant, it is all part of the message your Guide is trying to convey. This practice may help you to recognize and confront negative or painful thoughts and can be a step on your journey to healing.

Self Expression

Sharing our emotions and feelings can sometimes be difficult. If this is something you struggle with, drawing can be a fun, easy, and safe way to express yourself. Not an artist? No problem. Approach this exercise with a playful and child-like attitude to invigorate your imagination and intuition. Allow your mind to wander and give yourself the freedom to draw whatever comes up, giving your inner voice the chance to feel completely free. If you need some inspiration, look around the room and pick out intriguing lines and shapes of objects. With those lines and shapes in mind, start drawing a pattern. It is oftentimes when our minds are engaged with something else that our inner voices feel safest to emerge and we receive the most revealing results.   

Body Scan

Our minds and bodies are inextricably linked and practicing body scans can help us listen to both. Sometimes our bodies try to communicate with our minds (or vice versa!), but the message gets lost. Body scans help bring awareness to the body, and facilitate exploring, inquiring, and dialoguing with the parts of our body that our intuition guides us to. As you embark upon this journey of self-discovery, feeling your mind and body communicate, you may be surprised by what you discover. 

Shaking and Dancing 

What better day to listen to your favorite music than World Listening Day? Throw on your favorite playlist and get your body moving! Shed stress and loosen up your mind and body by Shaking and Dancing. Movement is a great way to find a mind-body connection. During this three step practice, you’ll first take a few minutes of intense, disruptive effort (“Shaking”), pause for a breath, and then spend another few minutes moving freely (“Dancing,” or simply “Movement”). While engaging with this practice, you may feel a release of emotion, which can help you to reach a place of relaxation, balance, and acceptance. If you choose to move through these practices in order, Shaking and Dancing is the perfect way to conclude, as your inner voice is quieted and a place of acceptance and peace is achieved.

Be sure to check out our Mind-Body Resource Library for more practices to try on this year’s World Listening Day.