by Beth Reese, PhD, E-RYT, RCYT
Standing at Gate C-21 in the Milwaukee airport recently, I caught myself feeling frustrated when I could not get my diver’s license back into my wallet. I know that one specific slot is a little tight, and it takes a little patience every time I return that plastic to the same space for easy retrieval. So when I noticed a strong twinge of frustration, I stopped to scan for the real reason.
Pausing to check in with my body sensations, thoughts and memories, feelings and mood enabled me to notice that there were a lot—I mean, like a boatload!—of sounds. How the sounds occurred to me in the moment, however, were conflicting and overlapping annoying noises: many voices talking, clanking trays on tables, beeping X-ray machines, an announcement about a gate change overlapping with a name paired with the statement that apparently he, she or they left something at security, and the variations kept coming… and coming… and coming. I saw in that moment that the sounds were creating what felt like darts to my sensory system.
Ping! Zap! Zow!
Having just completed editing The OHMazing® Way podcast episode #04, a conversation with Randi Jo Greenberg, who takes us through a sound meditation, I quickly thought, “ok great, how can you apply her teaching right here right now?”
Randi Jo’s sound meditation is led so beautifully that I invite you to listen to it when the podcast is published here. Until then, here are 3 other tools I have used in other situations when I feel like the soundscape around me is more than my system can handle. Each of these tools can be shared with kids, students, colleagues, friends and family from about age 18 months on up!
Sound of breath: listen to the sound of your breath as you breathe in. Listen to the sound of your breath as you breathe out. How is it similar and different when you breathe in and out through your nose? How is it similar and different when you breathe in and out through your mouth?
Sound of a bell—or no bell: with any ind of bell or singing bowl, play the sound and listen to the entirety of it’s ring. Notice how the sound changes over time? Did you think it would last that long? Did you think it would last longer? A favorite concentration tool used in Montessori preschools is for a child to hold a bell and walk in a straight line so carefully and focused that the bell does not make a sound.
Sound of walking feet: As you walk tune in to the sound each foot makes as it makes contact with the ground. Does it change when you walk more slowly or more quickly? If so, how?
Sound meditation is an amazing tool to keep in your pocket and share with your kids, students and colleagues. For most people it is an accessible way to drop into the present moment as the sounds refocus our mind and senses on what is happening in real time. As we notice our mind travel to the “spilt milk” of the day or our recent frustration, or the annoying sounds in the airport, we can gently invite our attention to return to a specific sound and be in the the moment of that auditory experience. The mind will always want to wander and that’s not only ok, but really great! For it’s in the space that we notice the wandering mind when we learn to become aware that our focus has faded and restore attention to the tool of our choice.
Listen and watch Beth and Randi Jo’s conversation, including Randi Jo leading a sound meditation, here: