Relaxation Activity 2 – Sounds of Nature                   (link to intro.)

                For yourself:    This exercise proceeds much the same as the Sound of Silence one, yet occurs outside, in a place where the sounds are limited to those of nature.  It could be as close as your backyard – but if there is too much noise from traffic, find a better place.  (Could there be a peaceful park along your drive home from dropping your child off at school or an activity?) 

Instead of focusing on the silence, let your mind pay full attention to the sounds you hear. It doesn’t matter if your eyes are open or closed – whichever helps you relax the most.  Consider the source of each sound, and try to picture it in your mind.  Don’t try to find it with your eyes.    Let the beauty of nature help you remember how beautiful life is.   Let the rustling of the trees rustle that stress out of you.  Let the bird songs lift your spirits to soar among the clouds.   In your mind, connect each sound to a desired response from your body.  After 10 minutes, stretch, and mentally express appreciation to mother earth for her bounty.

                With your child:  In order to promote relaxation, let the child choose ONE object from nature to hold that is the “connection” to the world around him.  Then find a nice comfortable place to lie back, placing the object near the heart.  Some children can close their eyes, but for many, that is stressful to try.  These children can focus on something above them, like clouds or leaves (if under a tree).  Just like some children can simply hold the object still, while some children NEED to manipulate it with their hands while listening – that’s OK.  

 Actively listening to nature with your child does not require 10 min. of silence, but rather moments of silence while listening balanced with brief verbal identification of sounds, and short discussions about what may be happening, or connecting the sound to something the child is familiar with.  You may also invite them to pair these sounds with desired responses in the body.  This discussion can start with parent, continuing to focus MOST of the time on listening. 

Then after a few tries, start asking open ended questions that will help the child focus on some of the aspects already discussed, OR use this opportunity to match the sounds to concepts.  Try to find high pitched sounds, medium, or low sounds.  How about choppy or smooth sounds?  Nature has excellent examples of the concepts of opposites.  With a gentle voice, smoothly continue to direct the focus on relaxing and listening with intent.  Please keep in mind that the time span for such an activity may need to start by being just a minute or two, yet can build over time for some to be even be longer than 10 minutes.

Does anyone have recommendations for local places where JUST the sounds of nature can be heard?