Sounds and Stories
This week we turn our attention to Mindfulness of Sounds. There are many benefits to tuning in to the sounds around us (under the Meditation drop down menu on the CMP homepage you can select “Blog” and then sort by “Mindfulness of Sounds” to see past discussions of this practice). One key, but sometimes-overlooked, benefit is that paying attention to how we experience sounds can help us become aware of when we shift from experience to story in our daily life.
For example, we may hear a low rumbling sound that is increasing in volume and occasionally accompanied by a high-pitched squeak. Very quickly the sound stops being just “sound” and becomes the concept “train”. It’s perfectly healthy and helpful to be able to identify what is causing a sound, and it’s also helpful to be aware of when our experiences shift from experiences to something else.
For example, if we feel a sense of unease as we walk alone into a social gathering, that unease may shift from a felt sensation in the body to a running commentary that may go something like, “I’m no good at making small talk. I’ve never been good at it – I’m just too socially awkward. It’s easy for lots of people, but it’s just never going to be my thing.” We’ve shifted to story. If we’re not aware that this shift has occurred, we can start to believe the story as important, solid, permanent fact, as real as the floor we’re standing on, or the plate of food we’d love to go get (if only we didn’t have to navigate people to get it!)
Practicing Mindfulness of Sounds, we learn to sense that shift from perception to concept or story, and we strengthen our ability to shift back to direct experience if we choose. In the situation described above, we can be aware of the shift to the story about how we’ll never be good at social gatherings, smile to ourselves, maybe say to ourselves with kindness, “Well that was a quick journey straight to story time!” We can take a breath, bring attention back to the felt sense of butterflies in the belly, maybe note, “Okay, this isn’t easy for me in this moment. I wonder if this feeling will shift at all. Let’s see how it feels to make our way over to that buffet table. I wonder if anyone else feels this way right now.” In this way, we're staying firmly rooted in the present moment, grounded in our bodies, supported by a sense of curiosity, rather than caught in a story that may, or may not, hold any truth.
We hope that you can join us this week as we practice tuning in to the sounds around us, noticing when they become something other than just sounds, and then practice tuning back into the sounds themselves.
May all beings, without exception, find wisdom and clarity as we move through our daily lives together,
Your friends at CMP
This Week's Session Schedule
We hope you can join us at one of our community sits this week. All sessions are free and open to the public, suitable for new meditators and people with an established practice. There is no need to bring or wear anything special, and all sessions offered in libraries are done in chairs unless you prefer to bring your own yoga mat or meditation cushion.
Monday 6:30 PM - Ridgefield Library, 472 Main Street, Ridgefield
Monday 7:30 PM - Sama Yoga, 45 Grove Street, New Canaan
Tuesday 1:00 PM - Ferguson Library, 1 Public Library Plaza, Stamford
Wednesday 12:00 PM - New Canaan Library, 151 Main Street, New Canaan
We Need Your Support
CMP thrives on donations. All of our weekly sessions are free and open to the public, but donations are essential to our sustainability. CMP is a licensed charity in the state of CT as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit. Checks can be given to facilitators at our weekly sits or mailed to Community Mindfulness Project, P.O. Box 1713, New Canaan, CT 06840. Credit cards are accepted in the Giving section of the website (www.CommunityMindfulnessProject.org). For donations of wired funds or appreciated securities, please email email@example.com. Thank you!