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Mindful : April 2017
TIP Sound adds a rich dimension to what we experience. It alerts us to approaching danger or a much-antic- ipated visit. It is a key to human com- munication. It delights us with music, while it irritates us with noise pollu- tion. Sound is created by a series of compression waves that travel outward from the source of the sound. There has to be a medium—solid, liquid, or gaseous—to carry the sound waves, so in a vacuum, there is no sound. In order for us to hear sounds, the mechanical signals from sound waves are converted to electrical signals in the inner ear, which passes these along to the brain. This happens so quickly and seamlessly that we experience a continuum of sight and sound. We see and hear almost simultaneously, unless the sound is travelling from far away, as in the case of distant lightning and the associated thunder. Now Hear This We can learn to pay more attention to the soundtrack of our own life. Take a sound walk, where you focus on what you are hearing. Find a place to stop and listen to sounds with your eyes closed. When you are feeling anxious or stressed, mindfully listening can help you to con- nect and relax. At work, find a quiet moment to close your eyes and listen to the sounds around you: computer hum- ming, people on the phone, sounds of workmen hammer- ing across the street. When we have a conversa- tion, we mainly pay attention to what a person is saying. Try listening to how a person is speaking. Are they speaking slowly, very quickly, loudly, softly, in a high- or low- pitched voice? Listen to how they pronounce words. This is an exploration of communica- tion, not a judgment of good and bad speech. sound DID YOU KNOW? Journaling about your senses encour- ages you to be more aware of them. When we pay extra attention to sensory experience, we also begin to uncover the psychological connections with our We react with immediacy to so many sounds: toast popping up in a toaster, the bing of a text message, a police siren, or the shock of the “breaking ” news of the day. We may be largely unaware of habitual sounds in our lives. Do you hear your feet thumping on the stairs? Do you hear your shower while you’re in it? Do you hear your fingers tapping on a keyboard? We can learn to sleep through traffic noise, human voices, and the sounds of wind and rain. Yet we will awaken quickly if the baby is crying. Sound is also a very emotional medium, evoking both joy and sorrow, in the music we listen or dance to. Turn off the sound to a TV show and listen with subtitles, and you’ll realize how important sound is to your emo- tional experience of the show. The hammer, anvil, and stirrup, which are bones in the ear, are the three smallest bones in our bodies. Together they are about the size of a pea. KEEP A SENSE JOURNAL physical feelings. Keep a five senses diary. Make a daily entry of one experi- ence of each of the five senses. Note any emotions they evoked in you. April 2017 mindful 43