By Aymeric Vollant
“While a picture may be worth a thousand words, a soundscape is worth a thousand pictures.“
– Bernie Krause, composer
Sound is a powerful tool. By utilising it creatively, it is possible to cultivate a sense of peace within people. While also triggering instinctive emotional reactions (for example: sound can make us feel love, or can make us cry).
Opening our ears and truly listening to the world around us is an efficient way to develop our ability to focus on the present moment. The idea is to purposely see (or hear) the world as it is, without judgment.
We generally don’t pay attention to the little sounds around us – or “noise” as most of us usually refer to it as. Most of us are running on autopilot. We filter out external stimuli to take only what we need – often in search for efficiency (because we all act as multi-tasking machines).
When was the last time you fully paid attention to your senses such as the taste of the food you were eating?
There is nothing drastically wrong with running on autopilot. We can live life just fine. However, it appears that many of the physical or mental diseases people suffer from in our modern lives are due to a lack of awareness towards ourselves and with the world around us.
How Do Us Humans Operate?
We think ALL THE TIME. The human brain produces on average more than 10,000 thoughts per day (this number can go up to 80,000 according to different sources).
And thoughts generate emotions. A positive thought generates a positive emotion. And a negative thought generates a negative emotion. Eventually, we find ourselves going through a daily roller coaster of emotions.
Most of our thoughts that create negative emotions are comprised of worries about the past or the future. A negative emotional pattern can lead to stress, anxiety, depression, and ultimately physical diseases.
This Is Where Mindfulness Comes In!
The whole point of being more mindful is to bring our awareness and experience back to the present moment. To shift one’s attention away from the chattering area of the mind and allowing the human system to have a break.
To live in the Here and Now rather than having our thoughts scattered all over the place. To observe ALL our thoughts and feelings without judgment.
Developing Mindfulness has several benefits. It can help you accept each moment for what it is and break out of autopilot mode. One is able to react more calmly to external stimuli that cause stress. It also helps you teach your brain how to change a negative thought into a positive one, increasing peace and well-being.
Other benefits of practicing Mindfulness include improving concentration, increasing energy levels, and boosting creativity.
The Simplicity Of It All.
It only requires a few minutes a day in order to feel a positive change. It simply requires you to focus on one of your senses for a given amount of time.
Spend 15 minutes only truly listening to what is around you while walking. Close your eyes and only focus on the sounds you can hear while on the MTR.
It is a simple concept, but far from easy (at first) due to our socio-economic conditioning. You will initially find thoughts appearing here, there and everywhere. However, this is part of the game. When a thought comes, just observe and acknowledge it for what it is, and use your willpower to turn your attention back solely to what you were focusing on. With consistent practice of Mindfulness, you will see improvements very quickly!
Here is a simple Mindfulness exercise you can start with in order to train your brain.
The link below is a 15-minute sound journey that will bring you to different places around the world, going through natural and urban environments. Wear on headphones and simply pay attention to nothing else other than all the various sounds that you can hear without passing judgment on them. Whether it is smaller subtle sounds or louder clearer sounds, try to pay attention to the details.
So what did you hear?