This exercise is similar to meditating with our breath as an object, and is easiest with closed eyes. Usually vision is our dominant sense, under constant use. So having our eyes open while directing our attention to another sense can easily distract us.
Here we can move about in a similar way as in the previous lesson:
- Sitting on a chair with your feet on the floor and your hands on your legs or knees, choose an object. It can be a specific sound, background noise, music, the wind, even birds singing. Simply direct your attention towards it as you did your breathing before. I love the sound of Sunday morning birds for this :).
- Again gently close your eyes, sit in a comfortable, upright posture and “listen” to whatever appears in your awareness. There might be different sensations from your body, thoughts, and emotions. First notice everything as it is and take a moment to find yourself into this exercise.
- Now direct your attention towards the sense impressions of your ears. Some noises or sounds might be in the foreground, some in the back, some loud, some silent. Maybe you can even hear your own heartbeat and your breathing.
- It’s easier to choose one focus within the different auditory impressions. Sounds will come and go. You may notice more change compared to focusing on your breathing, but in the background the constant rhythm of your breathing is there all the time.
- Rest aware of the coming and going, loudness and silence of your chosen impressions. Your mind will start wandering, because this is what our minds do. If you notice that your focus is lost bring it gently back to the chosen object.
- Maybe you’ll notice a special quality that goes along with meditating on sounds. Listening closely can bring us closer to deep calm and home to ourselves. Music therapy and the many musical elements in all cultures and traditions are using this quality.
- Continue this process of listening and coming back to the chosen object for some minutes.
- End the session by opening your eyes and moving your body. Come fully back into the situation and the day.
Like our breathing, listening is our constant companion in life. We can close our eyes, but not our ears.
Our nervous system sorts out all the sounds, privileging some as more important than others; we hear those and others move into the background. But we can also select what matters to us, and those will move to the forefront, while those we don’t wish to hear move into the background, and maybe even out of hearing altogether.
If you’d like a guided meditation here, you might enjoy Sharon Salzberg’s breath meditation again.