Full-Body Listening in the Peñas of Seville

I will always remember my first weekend in Seville, Spain, back in 2006. A friend wanted to show me around, so she took me to a little concert at the Peña de Pies Plomo, or the ‘Pummelled Feet Peña.’ Peñas are small performance venues seen in many of the Andalusian cities and towns. They usually seat 40 – 60 people and have a miniature stage, which facilitates an up-close-and-personal experience for both performers and audience. The performances there are often free, sponsored by the local government wanting to show the best talent the locale has to offer.

In this case, my friend chose a simple concert of guitar and song. It was an amazing first experience – the singer was so moved by the music that she was wiping her eyes between songs! Here, I had my first spontaneous experience of Full Body Listening, in which I listened with such openness that every cell of my body became saturated with the music. Really!! It was so profound that my friend said she was enjoying my enjoyment as much as the performance itself.

Since then, I’ve had a few experiences of Full Body Listening. It doesn’t happen if my mind is too busy. It also doesn’t happen if the musicians aren’t really bringing their full game; they have to embody the music fully themselves. I’ve noticed that my mind doesn’t necessarily have to like the music – but the rest of me might, even against my will at times. And, other people notice – something I’ve had to learn to put aside. As a friend commented one time during the intermission of one of his intimate performances, “you’re having a whole different experience than the rest of the audience.”

Things that facilitate Full-Body Listening

  • Turn off your phone
  • Practice being quiet and receptive sometimes, even when you’re not at a concert.
  • Breathe deeply
  • BE there fully. Decide to put the rest of the world aside for a short time.
  • Turn off mental judgements – positive or negative – about the music itself as much as you can
  • Put any expectations aside. You don’t know what you’ll experience!
  • Savour the sounds
  • Allow yourself to physically FEEL the vibrations
  • Be open to a full sensory experience beyond sound

I’ve found that the experience is deep, beautiful, healing, inspiring and life-giving. I highly recommend