One amazing thing about dogs is that they can identify and respond to specific sounds. At our house, the dogs begin to get excited long before I can hear the school bus rolling down the road, or a knock on the door. The hear the pantry door open and know the sound of their feed bin being clicked open. The are very discerning about what sounds are important to them. If a weather siren rings, they seem to ignore it as it has no association to them. Amazing creatures with an innate ability to hear what is most important to them and their preservation.
But humans are the opposite. We have the most difficult time hearing the things we need to hear most. 80% of communication is non-verbal, so we live a life of constantly searching for clues to the meaning of things. In the process, we miss much of what is obvious and important. It’s much more likely that we will hear our own calling, sense our deepest emotions and reacquire our direction when we sit quietly for extended periods of time. Weather this is prayer, medication or just “sitting quietly”, it is an exercise that we need daily. It has, I believe, a bearing on how we perform at work and at home as it is a brief reprieve from the distracting noise of the world. Studies have shown that listing to classical style music (music without words) is among the best ways to calm our mind and engage our emotions. Words with music, even music with uplifting and inspirational lyrics, focus us too much in one direction. Classical music (or absolute silence) allow our minds to wonder without constraint. I was tempted here to say “wonder aimlessly”, but I don’t think our minds ever really engage aimlessly. Our subconscious thoughts are an important impetus for our conscious minds and effect our reactions to what we select to hear as most important.
How many of you sit down quietly for some period of time each day to allow your mind to wonder purposefully? Start with just ten minutes, a set of headphones and a quiet, distraction free place. Close your eyes and sit quietly. Make note of what you are thinking of. Gradually relinquish those thoughts that are negative and redirect your mind to the opportunities you will face today. Even if you feel that you have a dreadful day awaiting you, focus on something positive. Relax every muscle in your body and allow yourself a few gentle slow moments for your senses to realign. We are not like our best friend the dog, we don’t have the ability to live life focuses on self-pleasure and self-preservation. Our minds are full of noise that has build up over many years, noise that just gets louder and louder each day unless we release out minds to wander with purpose and find the meaning in our daily lives.
My challenge for you is to give it the 10min/10day trial. Offer yourself the gift of a few quiet moments each day and see how it begins to transform your ability to hear the important things in life. If it doesn’t work, you’ve expended less than two hours of “non-effort” in total. If it works, you are on your way to enhancing your own hearing by quieting the noise has downed out for so long.