Discover the Benefits of Mindful Listening

mindful listening

Written by Dr. Paul Kelly, C.Psych.              May 4, 2024

Mindful Listening is easy.

It will Help you to:

  • Appreciate the Moment
  • Manage Stress and
  • Strengthen Friendships


Table of Contents


What is Mindful Listening?

Mindful listening is a brief mindful meditation. You can learn it in a minute. Here is what to do:

  • Imagine that your ears are microphones. Let sound come to them.
  • What sound do you notice with your left ear?
  • With your right ear?
  • What sound do you notice first?
  • What sound do you notice next?
  • When you start thinking about the sound, bring your focus back to the sensation of the sound.
  • Rest with ‘just listening’ for one minute.

That’s it! You are doing Mindful Listening!


Benefits of Mindful Listening

Mindful Listening is a great way to focus on the present moment. It can help you take a break from worrying or overthinking. When you focus on sound, your mind can break out of the worry-stress loop.

Then your mind and body will start to relax. You can also add to the richness of your experience by tuning in and being curious. Perhaps there are bird sounds nearby that you were not noticing – until you tune in to the sound.

So, mindful listening can help you connect with nature. It can also help you improve your concentration and focus. How would you benefit from better concentration skills?

It can also help you calm yourself and control anxiety – especially if you do it a few times each day.

Mindful listening will also help your relationships. Your friends will feel appreciated and heard.

They will like you and trust you more.


Benefits of mindful listening


How to Practice Mindfulness of Sound

Here are some more tips to get started with Mindful Listening. Be willing to be a beginner. You can train your mind, but it takes time to establish this healthy mental habit.

  1. Find a Comfortable Spot: Find a place where you can focus without interruptions.
  2. Turn off your Phone – or put it on airplane mode if you use it as a timer.
  3. Close Your Eyes and Breathe: Take a few deep breaths to settle your mind and body. Close your eyes. That will help you focus on sound.
  4. Focus on the Sounds: Listen for sounds all around you. Notice them as sensations.
  5. Let Go of Judgments: Remind yourself to listen. If you catch yourself thinking about a sound or judging it, just focus on sound itself.
  6. Be Kind and Patient: It takes time to tame your mind. Be gentle with yourself. Your mindfulness skills will improve as you practice.


Common Obstacles for Mindful Listening and How to Overcome Them

  • Make it Personal: Remember your reason for starting Mindful Listening.
  • Distraction: It’s normal for your mind to wander. When you notice distractions, gently bring your attention back to sounds.
  • Impatience: Sometimes, it may feel like you’re not achieving anything. Remember, the goal is to be present, not to reach a certain state of mind.
  • Discomfort with Certain Sounds: You might find some noises irritating. This is an opportunity to practice acceptance and patience.


Evaluating the Benefits: How Do You Know It’s Helping?

You might notice small changes at first, like the pleasure of hearing someone you care about or a nature sound like wind in the leaves or rain on a windowpane.

If you do Mindful Listening breaks a few times a day, you will start to feel calmer and be less caught up in worry or anxiety.

You will also be able to refresh your brain and concentrate better.

Keeping a journal of your experiences. Write down what you hear and appreciate.


Mia’s Story

Be more mindfulOne day, Mia’s friend complained: “I just found out my boyfriend is cheating, and you can’t stop looking at your phone!”. That’s when Mia realized that she needed to be more mindful – to control her attention – and be a better friend.

Here is what she said:

“I started with mindful listening because it was simple.”

During my coffee break, I put my phone in my bag.

I just listened and I heard the sip sound when I drank my coffee.

I discovered that I could hear many things – bird songs, kids laughing

Now I can go 20 minutes without looking at my phone….

My friend and I can talk about deep things again.

Mindful listening helps me connect with my friends.”


A Personal Note

When I leave my building in the morning, I stop and listen. Today, I heard the sound of rain and the rustle of a woman’s raincoat as she walked past me.

Mindful listening helps me to slow down and savour the moment. It helps me to step out of worry and unhelpful mental chatter.

Mindful listening also helps me to have a good marriage. When my wife wants to chat, I put my phone away and give her my full attention.

We have had 45 happy years together.

This picture isn’t really my wife and I – I don’t have that much hair anymore! – But we are this happy.


happy couple



It is important to me that I give you practical and trustworthy information. That is why I personally selected and reviewed all the sources for this article. My advice is also based on my experience practicing and teaching mindfulness to patients and therapists. We track progress at The Mindfulness Clinic, so I know brief mindfulness meditations, like mindful listening, are worth doing.

  • Jones, S.M. & Joyer, A.C. Mindful Interpersonal Listening. Chapter 21 in: Worthington, D.L. & Bodie, G.D. The Handbook of Listening, Wiley, 2020. Retrieved from:
  • Howarth, Ana, et al. Effects of brief mindfulness-based interventions on health-related outcomes: A systematic review. Mindfulness(2019) 10:1957-1968. Retrieved from:
  • Schumer, M. C., Lindsay, E. K., & Creswell, J. D. (2018). Brief mindfulness training for negative affectivity: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 86(7), 569–583. Retrieved from:
  • Konrad, A.C., Engert, V., Albrecht, R. et al.A multicenter feasibility study on implementing a brief mindful breathing exercise into regular university courses. Scientific Reports, 13, 7908 (2023).
  • Altman, Donald. One minute mindfulness. New World Library, 2011.
  • Ameli, Rezvan. 25 lessons in mindfulness: Now time for healthy living. American Psychological Association, 2014.
  • Kaplan, Jonathan S., Urban mindfulness: Cultivating peace, presence & purpose in the middle of it all. New Harbinger Publications, 2010.
  • Farb, N. & Segal, Z. Better in every sense: How the new science of sensation can help you reclaim your life. Little, Brown Spark. 2024.