John Cage, an avant-garde philosopher, artist and musician of the mid 20th century, says this about his passion for organic noise: “The sound experience which i prefer to all others, is the experience of silence. And this silence, almost anywhere in the world today, is traffic. If you listen to Beethoven, it’s always the same, but if you listen to traffic, it’s always different”
Recently I found myself taking on this practice rather naturally. When I first experienced it, I wasn’t thinking about Cage; in fact I engaged from a personal desire to explore thoughtlessness. A meditation. By simply tuning into the individual sounds around me, I dove into an incredible mind expanding, grounding experience that I have been practicing daily ever since. It is a wonderful meditation that engages our inner compass, calms us, and unites us with our own unique perspective of the present moment. I would like to share it with you now so you can practice it as well:
1. Close your eyes.
2. Take a deep breath.
3. Listen to the sounds in your present environment. Scan for noise 360 degrees in every direction, listening through the entire sphere. Some sounds are constant, some come in and out, and some come once and never return.
4. Tune into one sound, listen for a moment. Breathe.
5. Tune into another sound, listen for another moment. Breathe.
6. If there are other sounds, tune into those, and listen to each for a moment. Breathe.
7. Now that you have tuned to each of the sounds in your present soundscape, can you listen deeper to hear if there might be more you may have missed? Perhaps a low rumble under the ground? What about the sound of your breath? Maybe you can even hear your pulse now, or the ringing inside your skull.
8. Now that you’ve met all your sounds, return to one. Tune in and listen for the qualities of that sound. Is it high pitched or low pitched? Does the pitch fluctuate? Is the sound loud or soft? What direction is it coming from? Is it constant or intermittent? What sort of texture does it have? What is its rhythm like? How does this sound make you feel? Breathe while feeling for these answers.
9. Repeat the process with all the individual sounds in your present environment.
10. You’ve met all your sounds, and then gotten to know each individual one even more intimately. Now you are prepared to get a feel for how these sounds all work together. How do the rhythms, tones, textures, volumes, pitches, spacial directions and moods of these sounds interplay? There is no wrong answer, it is all about your personal interpretation. This is where you will hear the organic symphony of your present moment. It is unique only to you, and it only occurs once and never again.
Photo: I, BrokenSphere [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html), CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/) or CC BY-SA 2.5-2.0-1.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5-2.0-1.0)]