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it's springtime! A great time for mindful listening

As the clocks go back and the mornings get brighter you might have noticed that you’re waking up earlier and earlier. The dawn chorus of tuneful birds can be pretty annoying when you’re trying to get back to sleep. But looking on the bright side, listening to birdsong can be used as a lovely grounding practice which you can do pretty well anywhere at this time of year.

Try some of these ideas next time you hear birds singing:

· Identify the sounds being made by just one bird. Notice the pitch, patterns and melody of its song. How does it vary? How long does it last?

· See if you can identify which bird is furthest away and which is nearest.

· Which bird has the sweetest song? Take time to really listen to it. What is it that you like best about it? How does it make you feel?

· As you move through the day, try noticing times when the birdsong is particularly loud or quiet. Do you notice the dawn and dusk chorus times changing as the days get longer?

No birds outside? Sounds of nature are just a couple of clicks away

There are some wonderful recordings of birdsong and other forest sounds to be found all over the internet. You might try listening to one of these as if it were a meditation, really noticing the changing sounds and maybe visualising the environment from which they are coming. Notice how your body feels as you listen to these sounds of nature.

Why do sounds of nature help with anxiety?

Listening to birdsong and other sounds of the natural world brings some quite powerful psychological benefits. During moments when we notice rising levels of anxiety, a shift of attention towards sounds outside can help to ground the racing mind.

For thousands of years we humans lived very close to nature. There were times in our evolutionary history when birdsong indicated a safe environment. When it fell silent, that could be a sign that danger wasn’t far away.

Whether it’s the rustling of leaves in the wind, the trickle of water in a stream or lilting birdsong, sounds of the natural world re-enforce our innate connection with nature. They really can help us to relax and reduce stress levels.

So next time you’re woken up in the early hours by the chirping chorus outside the window, try immersing yourself fully in the experience. Even if you can’t get back to sleep, at least you’ll be starting the day on an uplifting note.

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