Annika Wager


A guide to: Keeping the body in mind when listening and speaking (50:50 attention).

In mindfulness practices we often choose to foreground some element of our experience. This could be, for example, a sense of really inhabiting the body as we stand or move by really tuning into the feeling the feet on the floor or the breath in the body.  However it’s often more challenging to sustain body awareness when we are interacting with others than when we’re meditating or engaging in practical tasks – it is very easy to shift into automatic pilot when we speak or listen.

We can practise 50:50 attention when relating to others – practising keeping some of our attention in our own experience and giving some of our attention to those we are listening or speaking to. Remember it doesn’t have to be 50% exactly! The point is only to keep the body in mind while engaging with others.

We can practise this both with objects (easier) and with people (more challenging!).

What to do…

1.  Choose a time to practice this. May be choosing an easy conversation to start with or even practicing with a pet or an object.

2.  Notice what you can physically sense as you stand or sit.  Zooming in on the sensations in the feet or legs and also the broader sensations of standing or sitting as a whole in the body. Choosing to foreground these and getting a sense of  where feels like a strong  ‘home base’  or anchor that you can come back to when attention wanders off (as it inevitably will).

3. As we then engage in listening to someone talking what happens to our attention? Does it fly out to the person speaking?  Are we getting caught up in planning what we will say in response so actually we are not really listening any more?  What would it be like to play around with holding some of our attention in the body as we listen? Having a sense of a ‘home base’ that we can do our listening from can be a really helpful way in engaging in mindful communication.

4. Which areas of the body might be helpful anchors for 50:50 attention when listening or speaking with others? Sensations of feet on floor or body on chair? Sensations of hands? Movements of breathing in abdomen and/or nostrils?   Play around with finding anchors that are strong for you.

What to do next…

The invitation is to explore this as a practice you can integrate into moments of your life.

Obviously the proportions of attention that we’re allocating will vary at different times [60:40; 80:20 etc.].

The point is to practise keeping a proportion of our attention within the field of our own ‘internal’ experience, especially within the body.

The percentages don’t matter and are not something to get hung up over; and there is no way to be exact anyway. The underlying intention of the practice is what is key; especially cultivating the capacity to even be aware of how our attention is shared out.

You could continue to reflect on some of the following questions:

  • Which areas of the body might be helpful anchors for 50:50 attention when listening or speaking with others? Sensations of feet on floor or body on chair? Sensations of hands? Movements of breathing in abdomen and/or nostrils?
  • How is it to practise giving some awareness to these right now?
  • Setting intention to practise this 50:50 awareness at times when listening and speaking during forthcoming situation. Perhaps identifying a particular person in your life with whom you’d like to practice this, or a particular anticipated conversation.

You could make the following question an inquiry for the future: ‘How does 50-50 awareness affect my interactions?’


Annika’s Organisation: Mindful Teaching -


Annika Wager and her colleague Pete Turner set up Mindful teaching as a not for profit organisation established to implement and support sustainable mindfulness training programmes in school communities in the Yorkshire region. Working in the classroom using mindfulness to build resilience and self-regulation in children from KS1 to KS5 or working in the staff room to support staff in their own well-being, we want to help you set up a self-sustaining mindfulness programme in your school.

Get in touch on or pick up a flyer at the Integrated Mindfulness stand B10 at the Mindful Living Show.


Annika’s Background

An experienced mindfulness teacher,  Annika he has a deeply-held commitment to bringing mindfulness into schools and workplaces as part of Mindful Teaching,  as well as running general population courses for those who are interested to explore how being more mindful can  change how we experience and relate to  what is going on in our lives. Annika completed her teacher training with Integrated Mindfulness and also with Bangor University’s Centre for Mindfulness Research and Practice in 2012. She is a trained .b teacher for secondary school children and a trained .b Foundations teacher programme for teachers, staff and parents. Coupled with her background in project management, her experience in tailoring mindfulness for individual work place settings, she is an in ideal position to help implement sustainable mindfulness programmes in schools and other work places.
She is listed on the UK network of Mindfulness Teachers and follows the Good Practice Guidelines for Teaching Mindfulness Based Courses.

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