Exercise 1: Hearing
An easy exercise to begin with, and all you have to do is find your favorite music, sit in an armchair, or find a comfortable place to lie down, and indulge yourself. Close your eyes, become aware of the music, LISTEN. Is the music soft or loud, gentle or fierce? Listen in a way you have never listened before, and allow yourself to feel.
Do you feel excited or soothed? Does the music make you feel? Of course it does, so then try to become aware of how you feel. Relax, and let those feelings grow. Don't suppress, but rather allow your body and mind self expression. Become part of the music you hear, sink into it, indulge. Chopin or Brahms, whatever you choose, just give yourself up to the music. Can you hear? Are you aware of the feelings your music inspires in you? Are you carried away by the music, by the sounds you hear, and if so, where does your music take you?
When you listen to the music, how many sounds do you hear?
As you strain to hear each sound, how acute does your hearing become? , and how aware of yourself does the music make you?
As you listen, ask, or rather float with the idea of yesterday, or memories of the past. Does the music inspire thoughts of long ago, and maybe dreams of tomorrow and of the future?
How many memories are there and where do they come from? How far back in your life does your music take you, and what dreams of the future are you inspired to dream?
Each day as you listen to your music, think about these questions, and try to express your inner feelings. You don't have to be a great poet or literary genius. As long as the words you write and the way you write makes sense to you, that's all that matters.
Music is a great beginning but you need to use other sounds as well. When someone speaks to you, listen hard. Is their voice harsh to your ear, or soft? Gentle or sharp? How does the sound of their voice make you feel? How do you react, and if you are listening attentively, you will definitely be reacting.
When Jim and I went to our first dog training session, meant more for us than the dogs, of course, our trainer, Fred Bradley, a genius and gentle miracle with animals, stressed to us the importance of our tone of voice. "Dogs have a finely tuned sense, and it isn't just that they hear us, but what they understand from the tone we use," he told us. Jim has a gruff, almost abrupt tone, and Fred suggested that he needed to moderate his voice, it was too commanding, and the dogs received the signal, through his tone, that they were being chastised, even though they were not. My tone, on the other hand, Fred told me, was just the opposite. Too soft, too gentle, and not enough of a command.
Having listened to Jim, I already knew what Fred was saying, and when he suggested to Jim that he might want to train his voice to sound a little softer, a little gentler, I jokingly asked if he could practice on me, as I had often mistaken his abrupt tone as irritation or dismissal. My ultra sensitivity gave me the same impression the dogs had, that somehow I was being chastised. Sometimes I was right, often though, I was mistaken. This sort of thing happens to most of us at one time or another and I know that this is a problem which is only solved if we can learn to give others the benefit of the doubt, the benefit of believing that others come from a place of goodwill. As you listen to others, and giving them the benefit of believing that they come with a feeling of good will towards you, listen carefully, not just to what someone says, but how they say it. Listen to their tone of voice, and try to react in a nonjudgemental way. And when someone asks you, "Are you listening to me?," know that 'yes' you really are.
How does that make you feel? Does being more acutely aware of someone else's voice make you more aware of the tone of your own voice?
When you really listen to the sound of your own voice are you aware of how much sense you talk? Ask yourself these questions.
How often do you laugh?
How often do you cry?
How often do you complain?
How often do you really listen to yourself?
How aware of your own sound are you?
The world is full of sounds, and it can be fun to try some of them out, to become more in tune with yourself and with the world around you. With practice, your ability to truly hear and really listen will become more acute, so acute in fact that some of you may become more attuned to the sounds of the universe and the spirit world. First though, before we race too far ahead, why not try some down to earth sounds, like church bells, or birds singing. The sound of the sea. A clock ticking. Babies crying. The sound of the wind. Bees buzzing. Children laughing. The sound of rain, or running water. The rustling of leaves, and how about this, the sound of summer.
All of these sounds are the sounds of happiness, and you may find it beneficial to write down your thoughts and feelings, and don't be surprised at how acute your ability to hear has become. One sound that you must learn to become aware of, an all important sound: THE SOUND OF SILENCE.
When you have tried your exercise, and begun to tone up your senses, to learn how to listen more intently, with more concentration, and also hopefully, with more ease, maybe some of you would like to try a next step.
Why not see if you can train your ears to listen to the sound and signs, to the music and the song of the universe. Who knows, you may hear the whispered voices of your loved ones in the spirit world as they call out to you.
But remember first, how can you expect to hear your 'dead' mother, sister, husband, loved one, if you fail to hear your 'living' family?