The most recent activity in our Wake Up To Your Life webinar is “Listening to Sounds”. Each activity in Jan Chosen Bays’ book How To Train A Wild Elephant & Other Adventures In Mindfulness encourages you to pause your busy, day-to-day routine and to explore getting out of your head (turn off thinking) and into your body (turn on awareness). This is what she says about sound.
We are continuously bathed in sound, even in places we would call quiet, such as libraries or forests. Our ears register all the sounds but our brain blocks most of them out so that we concentrate on the important ones. When we begin listening carefully, a new world opens up. Even in what is called silence there is sound. To hear such subtle sound, the mind must be very quiet.
The format of the webinar is …
- Quick check-in and hello
- Review our experiences with the previous weeks’ activity
- Introduce our new activity and briefly discuss our immediate reaction
- Closing comments
- Away we go for two weeks of waking up to our life
The group was a bit hesitant about listening to sounds. The majority confessed to tuning out sound as much as possible. Most sounds are simply interference, auditory garbage, distractions to what is truly important.
I admit, I am a fan of silence. Sounds can get into my head and make me crazy. Years ago, I was in a meeting and realized the ticking of someone’s watch was consuming my head. It was all I could hear. This was not a sacred pause of mindfulness. This was crazy making. I wanted to scream, “Take off the damn noise maker!”
I share this activity because it is a game changer for me. On my run, I decided to not listen to music but to simply listen. Wow! There is an entire world to discover through my ears. A bird flew by and I heard it’s feathers ruffling. There was a stirring off in the distance and three beautiful deer appeared in a wooded area. The huffing and puffing of my breath and the pounding of my shoes on the pavement prevented me from hearing more subtle sounds. I began walking. A symphony of sounds … crunchy dry fall leaves, a variety of bird songs, the honking of geese flying over, leaf blowers, dogs playing, neighbors chatting, the bouncing of a basketball, laughter from someone’s backyard, the smack of a driver contacting a golf ball. On walks since, I play with seeing something and attempting to hear its sound as well as hearing something and identifying what creates the sound.
I am completely out of my head. There are no internal conversations about what is required when I get home, bemoaning my trip to the grocery store and fixing dinner, planning my next blog post or yoga class, stewing over election results or what will be discussed at the next family gathering. I am deliberately paying full attention to what is happening around me and within me without criticism or judgement. It is working. I am mindful!!!
Bays also points out …
Research indicates that babies can hear things adults cannot. Their hearing is acute enough to detect the subtle echoes that occur after most sounds. We learn early in life to block these confusing sounds out.
This reminds me of my favorite Christmas story, The Polar Express.
At one time most of my friends could hear the bell, but as years pass, it fell silent for all of them. Even Sarah found one Christmas that she could no longer hear its sweet sound. Though I’ve grown old, the bell still rings for me as it does for all those who truly believe.
What if as we get older, it’s not that we do not believe but we are so trapped in our heads and the busy routines of our lives that we are no longer present for the miracles? I don’t know about you, but I am ready to open my ears, hear the ringing of the bell and tune into the magic.
Are you are interested in joining our free Wake Up To Your Life Webinar? Click here to learn more. It’s never too late to join our group of mindfulness explorers.