Be a Better Listener Try Sound Mapping

I’ve written before about shutting up and listening to nature but how about going one step further and drawing the sounds of nature?
This fun activity is called sound mapping.

Why should you try this? Because it will help you become a better listener.

Don’t we all just want to be heard?

Here’s how –

Step 1

Find a comfortable and safe place to sit outside, this could be your back porch or at the picnic table in the park or if you can’t get outside sit by an open window and listen.

Grab a blank piece of paper or sketch book which is what I use and your favorite pen or pencil.

Step 2

With pencil in hand close your eyes and for 5 minutes begin to listen to all the sounds around you, doesn’t matter if they’re street sounds, just listen.

Step 3

What’s the first sound you hear? Is it a bird chirping to your right? Keep your eyes closed and place your pencil or pen to the right side of your paper. Doesn’t have to be perfectly to the right, just go in that direction.

Keeping your eyes closed continue listening for more sounds and go to that side of the paper you are hearing the sound from and draw the sound.

If you don’t want to draw you can write the word out (like I did).

sound map drawing and words of what I heard while sitting on back porch

My not so great sound map

Don’t take your pencil off the paper, instead draw a line from one sound to the next.

Step 4

Continue drawing or writing words for another 5 minutes or longer if you want.

You should end up with one continuous pen or pencil line around your paper going from one sound to the next.

Draw the sounds of street noises or man made noises if that’s what you’re hearing.

Get into a rhythm with your drawing if you want, let you pencil go back and forth to the sounds.

For example if you’re hearing a bird chirping let your pen or pencil flow in harmony with the bird song. Stop when they stop and start when they start singing again.

Just allow your hand and pencil to dance with the musical sounds of nature.

As stated in my favorite book on this topic (and many more) Eco-Art Therapy by ThTheresa Sweeney, Ph.D – Become one with and flow into the experience.

Step 5

Now open up your eyes and let’s talk about your beautiful work of art you just created.

Step 6

What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you open your eyes and look at your awesome sound map?

Did you draw or write down everything you heard or did you forget something?

Doesn’t matter if your drawing suck, that’s not the point here.

It’s more about what you heard and how present you were in the moment.

Did your mind start wondering to something else or where you able to stay present?

Once you start focusing on your sense of hearing it can help you escape the constant mind chatter that keeps you from enjoying the here and now.

You know what I’m talking about, the worrying about all the things you have to do or didn’t do or the overwhelm that comes with day to day life – job, family, friends – how to balance it all.

My suggestion is to get outside and get distracted from the day to day stuff and get into the this moment in time because that’s all we have is right now so take time every day to enjoy it, you won’t get it back.

This is also so much FUN to do with your kids or friends or do it as a family and see if everyone is hearing the same sounds. It could make for interesting conversations.

Now let’s Wrap this up!

So how did you feel listening to the sounds around you with your eyes closed?

Would you rather do this with your eyes open?

When I first tried this I wanted to do this with my eyes open because I wanted to draw perfectly but I had to get out of that mindset of being prefect because no one ever is (one of my many problems I’m working on).

And once I started doing this I’m now aware of nature sounds every time I step outside and I’m finding this to be a great way to start my day.

This is also a great way to practice how to listen better without trying it on humans first.

Of course your goal then is to try it on humans at some point and see how well you do with listening.

Maybe try it out on that next conversation you’re in with someone you don’t agree with. Are you able to really listen to their side of the story or not?

And if you could understand them better how might you be more civil in your response rather then always on the defense or having to be right all the time?

Don’t give up if you don’t get this right the first couple of times because you most likely won’t, just keep practicing.

It’s worth it in the end for you to hear others because others will start to hear you too.

Like I said in the beginning, we all just want to be hear, validated and valued.

It’s amazing what you’ll learn once you stop talking and start listening.

The other side of this coin though is to be too quiet and never make a sound about what you believe in because you think no one will listen or it’s to scary to stand alone.

Don’t go to this side either, find your place in the middle.

I encourage you to journal about your thoughts and feelings and answer this question –

How might you put listening into your life?

Hope you liked this fun nature activity, how did you do? Let me know in the comments below or send me a tweet @tinaoutdoors

Peace and joy,
Tina

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