The following is an excerpt from a manual for children and teachers. It has stories that can be read to children to help them focus and exercises and suggestions to teachers. The entire manual can be purchasedat our on-line bookstore or by calling the Institute at 845-362-5222. Proceeds from sale of this manual go directly to The Children's Corner fund, which helps support making focusing available to children all over the world.
Study Guide for Students
Sara: Hi, Rob.
Rob: Hi, Sara.
Sara: Know what I learned in school today?
Sara: That I have ears in my stomach.
Rob: Ugh! That’s silly.
Sara: No. Really. Let me show you. What I mean is that I can hear with my stomach.
Rob: No you can’t.
Sara: Well. I didn’t think I could either. I thought because my ears are in my head, I heard with my head. But let me show you. Uh, oh. Watch out! There’s a bee on your shoulder.
(Rob freezes. Then he yells, hops up and down and runs and spins around in circles…escaping from the imaginary bee. He stops suddenly and looks at Sara who has a big smile on her face.)
Rob: There’s no bee on my shoulder!
Sara: I know. But when you thought there was a bee on your shoulder, what happened inside of you?
Rob: Huh? What do you mean?
Sara: Well, when I shouted at you there was a bee on your shoulder, what did it feel like inside of you…in your tummy…right here (points to her middle section)?
Rob: Oh. I think I see what you mean. First everything jiggled inside like Jell-O.
Sara: And then…
Rob: And…then I just took off. I was scared.
Sara: And then…
Rob: And…then it felt hot and cold all at once inside here (touches his stomach).
Sara: And then…
Rob: And…then I started to scream…without even thinking…an “eeeeek” came out of my mouth.
Sara: Gosh. I saw what was happening outside…but I didn’t know you were jiggling like Jell-O inside.
Rob: And something else funny happened. I didn’t feel anything in my head.
Sara: You didn’t feel anything in your head?
Rob: That’s right. But inside my stomach…it was kind of exciting…I mean…well, let’s see.
Sara: It sounds very different inside your head and inside your stomach23.
Rob: Yes, it was. Inside…first I stopped breathing. Then I was breathing hard. My heart was pounding. I wanted to spin around like a propeller. I guess it felt like I was spinning around inside me…sort of out of control.
Sara: So much was happening inside of you…but you didn’t feel anything in your head 24. Hmm. That’s interesting.
Rob: Isn’t it? But it’s true. I didn’t feel anything in my head. Then I looked at you smiling…and everything went quiet inside. I knew there was no bee!
Sara: Well, anyway, that’s just what I mean. All that happened inside you…and you knew it…but you didn’t hear it with the ears in your head.
Rob: Yes. You’re right. I guess I wasn’t listening just with my head. I guess I have ears in my stomach 25 too, huh?
Sara: You sure do!
Rob: Well, it wasn’t just inside my stomach. It was all over inside me26…my chest, my stomach, my throat, my…(circles his hand around his whole middle).
Sara: Something like that happened to me in class this morning. My teacher, Ms. Roy, said we have ears inside of us. We thought it was silly, too. Then she showed us, and I knew she was right.
Rob: How did she do that? How did she show you?
Sara: First she had us get real quiet…for about a minute, I guess. We just sat there and relaxed.
Rob: Why did she have you do that?
Sara: She wanted us to relax because she said that would make some room inside. She said we could hear better inside if we loosened up in there.
Rob: And could you?
Sara: Yes. Then she asked us to try to listen to her with our Inside-Ears. She asked us to put our hands on our stomachs and see what happened inside when she told us her story.
Rob: Why put your hands on your stomach?
Sara: We put our hands on our stomachs so we would know where to listen from.
Rob: Then what happened?
Sara: Then she told us a very sad story about when she was a little girl. She was in third grade, and her teacher said something really mean to her.
Rob: I never think our teachers were ever young like us. Do you?
Sara: No. I never even think they’re people. But, when I heard that, something happened inside of me right here (points to her middle).
Rob: What happened?
Sara: I wanted to cry for her when I heard her story. And where I wanted to cry was…inside of me…right under where my hand was. And it felt like I wanted to hug her, too.
Rob: I think I know what you mean. A lot of stuff happened inside me, too, when I thought I had a bee on my shoulder.
Sara: Ms. Roy said the Inside-Place is a place where a lot happens. We don’t even know it most of the time, because we don’t pay attention to it.
Rob: I guess we don’t know what to pay attention to. At least, I didn’t until you asked me what was happening inside me.
Sara: Well, she gave it a name. She called it what you just said…she called it the “Inside-Me” place. And she said we have something inside of us there called our bodysense.
Rob: I’m glad there’s a name for it. That must mean a lot of people have it. When all that happened inside me, I thought I was the only one…and I felt a little crazy. Whew!
Sara: Yes. I guess we all have an Inside-Me place. Ms. Roy is going to teach us about the Inside-Me stuff. I really want to learn about it.
Rob: Will you share that with me, too?
Sara: Of course. You’re my friend.
I Have Ears Inside My Stomach
Building block three is about a special kind of listening called experiential, healing listening. This uses the instrument of the bodysense to listen for the experience of the storyteller. As we listen to the experience from our own source of recording experience, we also have an experience. We call this bodysense-to-bodysense communication when the storyteller talks from the bodysense and the listener listens from the bodysense.
When a person is telling her story from deep inside of her, it is required that we listen in the same way, bodysense-to-bodysense. Though it is a very natural ability, it is not necessarily spontaneous…and unfortunately, by the time children are approaching pre-adolescence, this natural, deep listening may have been trained out of them. This is especially apparent when we observe children who have lost the ability to hear and who haven’t been listened to. They are starved for a good listener, and it takes remedial work to help them listen attentively, compassionately and empathically to others.
In I Have Ears Inside My Stomach, Do We Listen Only with Our Ears?, How Do I Listen…Most Often? and A New Way of Listening Called Reflections, the art of inside listening is described at length. All the stories deal more or less directly with listening which addresses the importance of this special kind of listening and its contribution to healing and growth.
What are the ears inside of our stomach? It is another way of paying attention to our own and others inner process. It is listening for our experience from the place where we can feel into this experience. To you teachers I say, take no offense, but experience is often called the best teacher…and it may be the only real way we learn. You, our outside teachers, at your best, provide an entry point into this world of inside, experiential learning.
How can we teach our students to use their inside ears? We can alert them to their innate capacity…and we can give them ample room to practice becoming aware…listening with their inside ears. After they read this story, you may suggest that they tune in to their inside listening capacity. Just let them write (paragraphs, journaling, short stories, etc.), recording what they hear using their inside ears. It is this repetition of becoming aware that will strengthen their natural ability to use their inside ears. This will not only augment their natural, experiential listening ability, it will militate against their letting this drop out of their repertoire.
Inside awareness exercise
First have each child get a word or phrase in their head about how they want to be listened to. Suggest words like caring about me, paying attention, without judging, accepting me for who I am, trying to understand me, not trying to fix me, not telling me what to do, not asking me questions and so on. When they have the word or phrase in their head, do a relaxation exercise (Appendix B). Then have them take the “head” word down into the center of their bodies. Give them a full minute to pay attention inside and let a story form about the experience of that phrase. Let them see how their bodies carry that phrase.
Ask them to write a paragraph from the bodysense about how they were listened to by someone else. Ask them to get an actual time. You might even suggest that they search their experience for when they felt the most listened to…or the least listened to. Then ask them to see how that felt inside of them. Let them write about the bodysense experience of being listened to.
Guide for Students
I Have Ears Inside My Stomach
1. What does it mean to have “ears inside your stomach?”
2. Where in your own body are your inside ears? Go back to your own experience when you did the approach exercise. Where did you feel it?
3. How can you prepare yourself to use your inside ears?
23 “Very different inside your head and inside your stomach.” Understanding something through the inside experience and the bodysense is “very different” from an intellectual analysis. It integrates how we get it in the bodysense and the sense we make of it, including our thinking process.
24 “you didn’t feel anything in your head.” We don’t experience feelings in our head. You can check this out for yourself. Where do you carry “scared.”
25 “ears in my stomach.” Indeed we do sense things or hear from inside ourselves, in our bodysense.
26 “all over inside me.” The area in which our bodysense resides is typically the torso, from chin to hips.