Massage San Francisco

Sound of NoiseThe Sound of Noise

Tuesday, 29 May 2012 09:00

There is no such thing as an empty space or an empty time. There is always something to hear. In fact, try as we may to make a silence, we cannot.” —John Cage

Our mood is affected directly by our sense of sound. We drive around listening to our favorite program, go for a jog with an upbeat soundtrack, or wind down in the evening with some soothing ambient music, all in an attempt to control one aspect of our sensory experience. When we do this, we are actively shaping our perception of reality. With the right song, we could outrun the world.

Aside from music, sound itself often gets overlooked. Since we don’t hold the hum of traffic or road construction to the same regard as our iTunes library, much of our auditory energy goes to blocking these ‘unwanted’ sounds. But when we do this, we miss an opportunity to practice awareness. What happens in and around our bodies as they move through space and time is a constant invitation to observe and reconnect. How does it feel to allow for the car alarm? What are the body’s assumptions and how much is our response automatic and conditioned?

We do a lot of labeling when it comes to our hearing life. Car alarm = bad, ocean waves = good. We are constantly distinguishing between sound and noise—between what is acceptable and what is uninvited. I have a friend who lives near an airport. Low flying planes pass by every two minutes. She told me many of her neighbors have gone to great lengths to soundproof their homes, often running air conditioning constantly to avoid opening windows. She admits it was initially difficult to adjust, but eventually she came to welcome the sound as a constant reminder of her presence in this world and this moment. It became a meditation. By removing the label of “noise,” she was able to ‘soundproof’ more effectively than her neighbors and gets to enjoy fresh air as well.

Spend a day observing the sounds around you. Turn off the music on your commute or at work and practice embodying everything you hear. Allow for that annoying coworker’s babble to bring you more deeply into mindful awareness. Use this practice at times when you aren’t able to control your auditory landscape and see how it affects your reality.

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