What does it mean to listen deeply and how do you begin to develop a listening practice? What is required of us as a listener in order to know that we are indeed immersed in a listening experience, an experience that has a feedback system with depth that can naturally bring about an inner transformation or alchemy for the practitioner of this art?
I have found that in the initial stages of a listening practice, it definitely helps to have something you enjoy listening to. However, I am not a listening expert and i am sure you could begin the art of listening to sonic material that you dislike, although, it would be advisable in the beginning to focus your attention towards objects that have a pleasant sound in order to develop a practice that is a joy to return to.
So why listen?
Listening is an art to be practiced and encouraged in an era of human domination over the natural environment. Climate change is a prominent issue and it appears that we are not truly listening to the planet we inhabit and if we are not careful it will be too late to rectify the damage being done for future generations of earth’s guardianship. There are very few, if any, natural spaces left in the world that aren’t polluted by noise, man made noise. Silence is a rarity and for most of us, we hardly notice that silence spaces have become a thing of the past. Although our current era is reasonably settled in terms of warfare, one only has to open a browser to see the horrors inflicted on others whose resources are less stable than our own. Our desire for materialism and wealth has overtaken a more spiritual approach to living and we now work harder than ever before, consuming objects in an attempt to find happiness. Stress, depression, isolation and anxiety are proving core initiators of mental health issues emerging from our contemporary consumer culture’s psyche, more and more people are now turning towards meditation and mindfulness practices in an attempt to rectify this internal imbalance.
Listening, can be a methodology or a practice by which a person learns how to balance their inner world with their outer world. It can be a practice to be encountered, reflected upon and eventually through time, a practice to be mastered. Although I warns you from the outset that mastery does not infer achievement nor attainment of any kind. As with all practices, listening may take sometime initially before you find that it becomes a natural and enjoyable experience. Therefore, I advise from the outset, to gently bring your attention to the word process, as it includes an element of great wisdom within it. Listening is a process of transformation that naturally arises through the practice of engaging with yourself and the environment you inhabit, it undoubtedly offers a new way of being with ourselves, each other and the natural environment.