Did you get a chance to try out the Catch & Release Meditation I linked in my last Blog? If you did, you probably noticed there was some background music and birdsong accompanying it. But wait, wasn’t the post about meditation & catching some silence? This morning, doing my sit ‘n sip (read: cuppa coffee, or cuffa coppee if you’re Wordsback like me) in the hot tub , I heard my first full on Robin Song concert of the season. I had the full on experience of the Power of Sound. Like I always do when I hear that bird sing. And it occurred to me again, how not just silence, but how also sound affects my experience: body, mind and spirit.
When you realize the human body is an amazing and intricate interplay of vibrations (energy), and add the vibration of external sound, you begin to see how we are affected by the presence, and absence, of sound. Especially since for the most part, we typically have little to no awareness of it. And vibrations tend to atune to one another. It’s kinda like those two little cardiac heart cells in the petrie dish that start off beating in their own rhythms & then gradually align to beat together. They can’t help but align to one another… What are you aligning to?
The Brain on Silence
In an article I read recently about research of the brain on silence, one of the unexpected discoveries was that the brain responded strongly when it experienced the contrast between sound and sudden silence. That therein was the most profound relaxation experienced. When I’m listening to the sound of the robin song, it’s in the silence between the calls that I notice my mind is silent. That I can hear the silence. That I can experience my “I” without the endless chatter of the mind (the “i”). Or in other words, it’s the contrast between sound and cessation of sound that makes the experience of silence more profound. More noticeable.
The good news from this particular study found that short intervals of silence produced better relaxation than relaxing music! They said, “In fact, two-minute silent pauses proved far more relaxing than either “relaxing” music or a longer silence played before the experiment started.” So maybe we don’t need to be sitting in hours-long silent meditations that challenge our modern day ADD tendencies, throwing us off our best intentions to meditate.
At least to start with. Because meditation isn’t just about relaxation, right? It’s about training the mind: to focus, to notice, to be aware. And that requires some consistent practice to break the lifelong habits of our chattery monkey minds. It was interesting this article also spoke of how even in silence the mind manufactures its own brand of “sound”, the Monkey Mind! Here’s a link to that article if you’d like to read it in its entirety.
Have Some Fun
So two things here just for fun, this week pay attention to the sounds around you and how they affect your experience. Then see if you can be more choiceful about what you allow and don’t allow based on what experience you’d like to have. The application of this choice is endless: music, traffic, television, radio, ambient work environments, nature, etc. And back to meditation, you may find soothing sound will improve your own vibrational response to the attempt to clear your mind. Or not. Experiment! Make it interesting.
Speaking of experimentation, if you’re new to meditation or have been unsuccessful in the past & would like to try again, I have a recommendation that might help. Headspace is an app that offers a league of guided meditations on all subjects and simple instructions to help you with establishing a regular practice. The fellow who is its mastermind, Andy, is simple & unassuming in his approach. He also has stellar credentials. He trained as a Tibetan monk for years and now brings his western flavor to the teachings that allow us westerners to better understand. I love this app and use it regularly (nope, no $$ kickbacks for me in making this recommendation :<). The first 10 sessions are free. I’m interested to know what you think!