More often than not we go about our day scanning for sounds which we deem as important, privileging some sounds over others and brushing over the sounds we presume insignificant.
Lets take a phone-call for example, when you were anticipating hearing the voice being transmitted through the phone line did you notice the birds singing? The rustle of the newspaper as the person sitting beside you on the bus flips over the page?
Or, when you’re sat in a meeting and all of your attention is being directed towards the figure at the front of the room. Do your ears block out the sound of the car engines passing each other simultaneously on the road outside your office?
How many occasions can you pinpoint whereby you are simply letting the sounds which you want to hear arrive at your door, letting them come to you without undue thought and neglecting the humdrum sounds which comprise a part of your monotonous day. The challenge therefore, is not to simply hear what is here to be heard, but to rest in full awareness – in the present moment – absorbing the sounds which are to be heard moment by moment.
We are constantly submerged in a soundscape of enormous depth and variety. We are never separated from sounds, they encompass our daily life and one important thing to note is that even silence withholds sounds. Like the waves in the sea and the wind in the trees, sounds are always present.
Take a minute now – wherever you are – to just close your eyes and tune in to what you can hear. You may begin with an all-encompassing general hubbub of noise; a radio elsewhere in the building, a door slamming, cars hissing past, a siren in the distance, the hum of the air conditioning or central heating, an aircraft overhead, the pitter-patter of rain against the window. It may seem hard to draw your attention to all of these sounds, all demanding your equal attention, but try to distinctively pick them apart one-by-one.
Using mindfulness as we tune into our senses and focus on our hearing, we can begin to take a more open approach to living in the present moment. We can begin to realise that just as the ear is an organ that receives sounds from transmitted vibrations, the mind is an organ that receives thoughts. Your mind and ears suddenly don’t seem too unalike.
The sounds we hear can sometimes be the culprit of inconvenient thoughts entering our restless mind. It’s difficult to hear the raw sounds without activating a corresponding concept in the mind and before we know it, the mind has leaped and bound into a past that we had long since forgotten or a future that’s been entirely dreamed up and has little basis in the here and now. These thoughts may well then be the causing factor in feelings of anger, sadness, stress. And that’s all down to that single innocent sound, a simple compilation of vibrations, which has just triggered an avalanche of associations.
By likening the sounds you hear to the thoughts you process, you can begin to quiet your mind. Using sounds to quiet your mind – a tad controversial I hear you say? Well, yes. But let me explain.
See your thoughts as a radio which has been left on in the background. You are free to listen – or rather observe – but you need not elaborate on what you receive or act on what you feel. There is no need to think or behave in the way that the voice on the radio tells you to, so why should you blindly assume that your thoughts portray an unerringly accurate picture of the world? Your thoughts are thoughts. They are your servants. No matter how loud they shout, they are not your master, giving orders that have to be obeyed. This realisation gives you immense freedom; it gives you the space to more present decisions – decisions that can be made with your mind when it’s in full awareness.
Take your mind through this process in 2 simple steps. Listen to the sounds the world is bringing to your senses, and Take Note. Let the sound bring you into the present moment, the here and the now.
The next time you find yourself focusing on a dominant sound, tune out a little. Notice the existential sounds which aren’t as easy to notice – the sounds we are so used to hearing on a daily basis. Be one with the sounds you hear and allow these to take you on a journey, with each sound taking you some place new. Let the melodies of life create a harmony of peace in your mind.
Want a little guidance? Have a go at the guided sound meditation below!
Open your ears, listen carefully, and peace will follow.