“SPEND A WHOLD DAY JUST LISTENING TO THE SOUNDS YOU MAKE,” said the late Zen Master Soen Roshi to a meditation group, “while you dress, eat, and walk.”
While I’ve never had the time or inclination to spend a whole day listening to sounds, focusing on various sounds for a minute or even a few seconds here and there throughout the day has sharpened my mindfulness.
It’s excellent training in concentration when you listen to naturally occurring sounds. This is also how to be mindful at work. A minute listening exercise repeated often increases your mindfulness on the job.
Eckhart Tolle discusses “entering the now from wherever you are,” in his book The Power Of Now. Listening to sounds you make and noises that surround you—one at a time—is a wonderful entry point into mindfulness “from wherever you are.”
Try pausing briefly right now to focus your attention on a particular sound. Perhaps you hear the clatter of a keyboard, a horn or traffic noises outside, or voices in conversation. Focus your attention on one of them. When your mind wanders, bring it back to the sound you’ve selected.
Training yourself to listen to another’s voice during conversation is a particularly valuable exercise in mindfulness. In business and during job interviews, it’s not what you say but how you listen that determines successful outcomes.
Returning to how to be mindful with sounds, I listened to the repetitive sounds crickets made as I stepped outside early yesterday morning to retrieve the paper. While driving to work, I focused attention on the sounds made by my car. There were different car sounds to focus on, one at a time. Later, after zeroing-in to the sound of music for a minute at the gym, my attention shifted to the sound of the stationary bike I pedaled, then to the pounding made by a person on a treadmill, and finally the clicking made by the multitasker pedaling next to me on his Smartphone.
If you experiment selecting sounds to listen to from time to time, your concentration will improve. This makes it easier to “enter the now” automatically whenever you need to.
Listening to selective sounds for brief periods during the day is also naturally occurring meditation that relaxes and allows you to rest briefly in your natural state.
With sounds all around, the world is your arena.
RANDY PLACE is the author of Your One-Minute Job Finding Coach.
Copyright ©2016 by Ransom (Randy) Place