The Sounds of Silence

Sometimes, in order to listen big, listen deep to music, we need to step back and first listen to the sounds of silence.

This morning as I sat in silent meditation with about 6 other people, I became aware of the many, many sounds all around me.

  • the persistent “caw, caw! caw, caw!” of two crows
  • a woman clearing her throat
  • the distant hum of the climate control
  • chirping and whistling of a robin or perhaps a finch
  • the bouncy rumbling of a large truck passing on a nearby street
  • high-pitched whine of a small-engine auto
  • rustling of clothing as the man to my right adjusts his posture
  • light ticking of the clock’s second hand
  • my own breathing and sniffling
  • a truck backing up – “beep, beep, beep…”
  • a woman’s high heels tap on the tile floor of the hallway

Sitting still in silence gives our senses time to relax and open up. I practice Samatha meditation. Samatha means peaceful abiding.

Slowing Down, Opening Up

slow down

After an hour of sitting, I have slowed down; my senses are fully open, experiencing sounds, sights, aromas and sensations of my surroundings.

In this state of heightened awareness, I can listen deeply and fully.

As I drive home from the meditation center, I am listening to the radio. That saxophone sounds like a human voice, calling out with intensity. On another radio station, the strings are dense and layered.

I’m switching between our local jazz station KMHD 89.9 FM and our all-classical station 89.1 FM.

In addition to the sounds from the radio, my senses also take in:

  • the soft whirring and cool temperature of the air conditioning
  • the tires crunching on the asphalt
  • a few honking horns
  • a construction worker directing traffic and calling out to slow down

Your Next Listening Session

Before your next listening session, I invite you to sit quietly for ten minutes; longer if you can; and slow down. Don’t do anything but sit. Let your senses relax into the room. Inhabit the space.

Then listen to some music. Let me know what you experience. Is it any different from other listening sessions?

Samatha and Shambhala

If you’re curious about meditation, find a Shambhala Meditation Center near you to receive meditation instruction.

From their website:

Shambhala Vision is rooted in the principle that every human being has a fundamental nature of basic goodness. This nature can be developed in daily life so that it radiates out to family, friends, community and society.

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