Sunday Reflection - Just Listening
When you think about it, it seems strange that so many people use sound to help them sleep. Surely most people prefer silence. But do they?
During long periods of silence in sensory deprivation experiments, people have imagined some pretty strange sounds. Being robbed of sensory input doesn’t suit the brain - it needs to fill the silence. The brain just craves sensory input. So, to sleep better, some people listen to white noise machines. Others love the sound of waves or a tropical forest.
What about meditating in complete silence? Well, the first challenge is to find somewhere completely quiet. That isn't easy in the modern world. And, the countryside is certainly not quiet. Of course, you have then to sit in silence and quiet the mind. That in itself requires the strongest mental muscles. So, gentle rhythmic sounds or chants can help us meditate more easily.
There is a practice that I love - meditating on sound. To do this, sit quietly with your eyes closed and take some gentle conscious breaths. Next, focus on what you can hear. Listen to what is closest. Most buildings have some kind of sound going on all the time. If you are outside, what can you hear buzzing nearby. Then, gradually listen further out. What can you hear from the street outside the house? Listen in wider and wider circles. I love to hear a distant train. Let the sound be all there is. I find a few quiet minutes listening can be incredibly relaxing