This week’s exercise was to listen to sounds. Stop what you’re doing and just listen to all of the sounds around you. Be mindful of them. Don’t think about what you’re hearing, or narrate your experience to yourself. Just let the sounds wash over you.
As I’ve mentioned before, I’m not great at remembering to do the exercise when it’s not tied to a specific time or place. So I didn’t do this as much as I would have liked. But I did manage to do it a few times.
It’s amazing to do the exercise at a time you think of as quiet. The first experience is a heightened sense of quiet as the many voices in your mind turn off. (Every time I do a breath-centered mindfulness I’m always stunned by the quiet and, in retrospect, by the volume of the thoughts that were careening around my mind.) Then, as you become aware of all of the small sounds around you they become a symphony of noise. The hum of the refrigerator. The click click click of the dogs’ nails as they prance over to say hello. The kick of the heater as it turns on. The bumph of the cat jumping off the counter. The smack of Adeline pounding the bookshelf. The bang bang bang of the books that she throws on the ground. The hmph hmph hmph of her breath as she figures out a new toy. The drip of the condensation on the humidifier dropping down. The crack of a joint as you shift in place. The vroom of a car driving by outside.
This exercise makes us aware of all the noises that we normally block out. We do this for practical reasons: we could never pay attention to everything all the time. But it’s nice to become aware of it on occasion, to notice what’s going on around us. It’s also a great way to quiet the mind, because you have to be quiet internally to hear everything that’s happening externally.
This week’s exercise is: “Every time the phone rings (or buzzes or plays that annoying song), take three mindful breaths.”