For me one of life’s simple pleasures is listening out to the nature around me. It brings me right back into the present moment, helps me to delight in my surroundings and appreciate the beauty of the world around me…it’s also incredibly relaxing too.
The Science Behind Our Hearing
Our human hearing is very complex, soundwaves carry through our ear canals and reach our eardrums. The sound vibrations hit our calibrated ear bones and then the inner ear, this moves thousands of tiny hair cells and allows them to change this sound vibration into electrical signals that tell our brains what it is that we can hear. If you think about it that sounds like a complex masterpiece. And everyday we use this amazing sense of hearing but unfortunately we test it to it’s limits too with music played far too loudly or by being in the middle of noisy city life etc. Naturally our hearing declines with age but I think it’s crazy how little we actually take care of this incredible sense that gives us so much joy. That’s why I want to share about Sound Walks, it’s basically a ritual that anybody can do and anywhere to help you tune into the beauty of sound, bring calm into your life and improve your listening skills.
What Is a Sound Walk?
Sound walks are basically a walking meditation ritual. It’s a walk in which the sounds heard are as important as the sights seen. It’s a wonderful mindful approach to a walk. It helps to ground you and bring you into the present, allows you to become aware of the sounds that you hear each day and can even help you to form a memory of feeling relaxed, aware or alert when you hear a particular sound. Below I’ll share a simple sound walk step by step that will help you to focus and know where to start.
How To Go On A Sound Walk
- When you begin your walk outside take three deep and cleansing breaths in and out slowly through your nose. This will fill your lungs and body with some lovely fresh air and will awaken your senses. As you breathe in try to focus on the sound of your breathing.
- Remind yourself of your intention, you can make your own personal one or you could use this one… I hear sounds that make me feel secure in my world (or perhaps a slightly longer one) I hear the sounds that make me feel held and safe in my world. Just state a simple, non complicated intention that connects to sound.
- On a walk obviously there are alot of visuals and they can be very distracting which can mean it’s hard to pay attention to the sounds around you. When you notice your attention starting to focus on something other than the sounds then bring your attention back to something small (like the sound of your footsteps), then once your attention is focused on that start to listen to other things (like in layers) For Example; Leafs rustling in the wind, Any traffic?, Birdsong?, Other people?, Dogs? etc…
- Next think about if the sounds you hear combine to what you smell and see. Even though your on a sound walk engaging your other senses once you’ve fully immersed yourself in the sounds is important too as it will connect all that’s around you. Also if you come across something that you particularly like the sound of (perhaps a trickling stream, a certain bird chirping) then you can always take out your phone to record a clip of it to listen back to later. But if you find that your phone is distracting and takes you away from the present moment then you don’t have to do this as you don’t want to interrupt your enjoyment during your walk.
- Don’t give yourself a time limit for your walk. Walk for as long as you are still finding new sounds and enjoying them. When you get home you may notice that you are more attentive to the sounds you hear, for example: if you pop the kettle on you may hear it boiling more eagerly than you did before you engaged in your sound walk.
There’s no right or wrong way to engage in a sound walk. Just set your focus and concentration mainly on the sounds around you. But if you would like to take it further a journal reflection maybe something you like the sound of. After your walk to encourage more reflection you could make some notes on the sounds that you particularly enjoyed and liked. Ask yourself question like; Why did I enjoy that sound? Was I reminded by anything? (The sound might of made you think of a loved memory) If you didn’t hear the sound that you associate with a memory on your sound walk still jot down what sounds you love but didn’t hear on that particular walk. It will be as a reminder for what sound brings you fulfilment, relaxation or happiness etc.Anyone can do a sound walk and anywhere. But it’s best to do when you have enough time to walk as slowly as you like. You don’t need to do it daily if you haven’t got the time for that but at least once a week is a good aim.