Sounds is interesting. It has the power to transport us to a calm and centred frame of mind or to stress us out. While a babbling brook might feel calming to our nervous system, traffic, the sounds of the urban environment, or noisy neighbours can stress us out. So what makes some sound pleasant and others stressful?
Is sound really just subjective and could we train ourselves to observe sound without judgment and simply use it as a tool to connect with ourselves?
When we find ourselves facing eco-anxiety, mindfulness is an excellent tool to help ourselves be more present, and gain perspective, but we often think about meditation or mindfulness as requiring a calm environment. However, in addition to basic breathwork, soundscapes are all around us all of the time and present an opportunity to tune in to our surroundings and practice mindfulness.
“Once you are meditative, music will naturally be a part of your life. Everything is vibration – everything is sound.” - Sahdguru
If you take a moment to pause and listen to your surroundings, you may notice a plethora of sounds that you had been tuning out or trying to ignore. We have a tendency to become annoyed with the intrusive sounds around us and opt to focus our attention elsewhere or retreat to a quiet space, especially when trying to practice meditation or mindfulness.
When you find yourself in a loud or busy environment, try making the most out of the situation by including the surrounding sounds in your meditation. After all, practicing mindfulness is about being in and accepting the present moment.
While it might be easier to focus in silence, there are many benefits that come from learning to meditate by using surrounding sounds as your object of focus.
What is a soundscape?
The combination of sounds that arise from the environment in which you are situated is called a soundscape. Soundscapes refer to a wide variety of sounds that can be organized into three different categories.
The biophony includes sounds that come from the natural environment such as chirping birds, running water, and leaves rustling in the wind.
The geophony refers to sounds that come from the natural elements such as the sound of raindrops and thunder.
The anthrophony includes sounds that are created by humans, whether they are intentional such as music or language, or are incoherent such as noises made by electromechanical means.
While some sounds, such as ones that come from nature, are more pleasant to listen to than others, it is beneficial to focus on sounds you perceive as annoying and apply mindfulness in order to change that perception into something positive.
Bring the background into the foreground - how to enjoy a soundscape
It doesn’t take much in order to enjoy the soundscape in which you are situated. One way to tune into your surrounding sounds involves focusing first on your breathing, then your body, and then finally your hearing. This method of meditation allows you to warm up your meditation and mindfulness skills by focusing on yourself before expanding out to the external environment.
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