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How to use soundscapes to be present

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.

How you can take action:

  1. Begin your meditation by assuming a comfortable position, whether that means lying down, sitting, or standing. The beginning of your soundscape meditation is the same as a body scan meditation.
  2. Focus your attention on your breathing, taking notice of each inhalation as well as each exhalation. Relax your core in order for your breaths to flow freely and continuously until they are rising and falling in an effortless manner.
  3. Once your breathing is under control, shift your focus onto your body. Starting at your feet, take notice of every inch of your body, slowly moving upwards all the way up to your scalp. Note any sensations you are feeling such as your temperature, heaviness or lightness, and any pain you may be experiencing. Notice how these sensations come and go.
  4. Finally, shift your focus to your ears and listen to your surroundings. The sounds around you may be blended together and hard to decipher at first. Focus your attention on a particular sound and try not to let your mind wander from that sound for a couple of minutes. Try to refrain from adding any narratives to the sound such as determining whether you like or dislike it and where it is coming from and why. Simply focus on the sound and let your body relax into it.
  5. You may shift your focus from one sound to another, taking time to focus individually on each sound making up your soundscape. Be present in this moment by listening to each sound entering and passing by. Notice the spaces between the sounds. Immerse yourself fully into your environment.
  6. At the end of your meditation, focus your attention back to your body once more, followed by your breathing.

Here are some resources to check out:

Reduce your Eco-anxiety with this Technique

How Yoga Helps you Relate to the Natural World



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