Published January 25, 2022
Can I interest you in one or more listening experiments right now?
Close your eyes and listen to the sounds of your environment with a spatial awareness such that you are capable of sourcing sounds in all directions. Enjoy the delight in this superpower.
Now open your eyes and keep this same aural awareness. Maintain the ability to focus on your hearing even though your sight is engaged/available.
Listen to a sound that has a natural decay. Your eyes may be open or closed as you prefer. Examples of such sounds are airplanes passing overhead or the sound of a meditation bell.
Place your focus on following the decay of the sound until it passes into silence/infinity. Keep
your focus there.
(based on the writings of John Cage)
Choose a sound that is not beautiful, perhaps the most unpleasant one happening right now. Listen to only the sound without going into the story associated with it. Listen to its quality. Now
ask yourself why it is not beautiful. Be open to discovering that you were wrong.
As Pauline Oliveros so deftly states in her book, Deep Listening:
“I differentiate ‘to hear ‘ and ‘to listen’. To hear is the physical means that enables perception. To listen is to give attention to what is perceived both acoustically and psychologically.”
Your attention is the greatest gift. Or, I would rather say, attention itself is the thing.
Allow yourself moments where your listening attention can deepen. It’s an act of not only investing in your future (because you’ll become better at listening), but also more importantly,
investing in your now.
Roll your eyes at me all you want, but you know it’s actually true,
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