This afternoon, I went out on the deck to enjoy my yoga/meditation ritual. I turned around to go back in and get my iPod for the soundtrack I enjoy playing in the background. A I stood with my hand on the door, something made me pause and listen. I heard birdsong– new and different combinations of sounds, as most of the summer birds are flying south now. I heard squirrells scampering around in the trees, and the sound of leaves rustling and wind chimes singing in the cool breeze. I quickly realized that the natural soundtrack playing out in the woods behind my house left my prepared digital songlist in the dust.
As a result, I decided to try to make mindfulness of sound a conscious choice this week. As often as I can remember to do it, I hope to simply be aware of the natural music surrounding me. In Zen Buddhist monasteries, the monks are reminded to “come backs to themselves” several times a day by the sounding of the bell. We can use the beeps of our digital devices as similar bells of mindfulness. What a groundswell of self-awareness and peace could sweep the world if large numbers of people chose to do this! Instead of responding to each of these random noises like reactive automatons, we’d be taking the time to breathe, smile, and enjoy the unique beauty each moment had to offer.
We can expand this awareness to include our other sensory stimuli as well: the sights, sensations, flavors and aromas all around us every day. Instead of being utterly consumed by words and images on screens, we can take a moment to take in the skyline, the changing leaves, the sunlight. We can become aware of the feeling of water on our skin, of the wafting fragrance of wood burning in fireplaces, of food being prepared, of the flavor of our teas and juices.
Digital soundtracks, projected images and such all have their place in our lives. Nonetheless, this week I hope to be much more deliberatively conscious of their natural counterparts. Anything can serve as a bell of mindfulness. Let’s use those reminders to enrich our lives and those of the people around us
Image from naturesounds.net