What Do You Hear: Part 1

What Do You Hear: Part 1

For me personally, sound is everything. There is a branch of Yoga called Nada Yoga, which is the Yoga of Sound. In essence, the use of the auditory (both inner dialogue and external) senses for the expansion of consciousness and the connection to the divine source of all life, all creation, and all that moves the universe. It is a way for me to engage with the vastness of infinity within a pinhead of the cosmic ocean. One of my favorite quotes from the Sufi poet Rumi sums it up, “You are not a drop in the ocean. You are the entire ocean in a drop.”

Listening is a practice, for within our mind, we can see without eyes and hear without ears. Which always begs the question in my mind, who is speaking and who is listening? This is something we will move into later in this series of posts. But for now, we will focus on the most basic aspect of listening consciously. For within this practice, one may begin to live their life differently and view the world in such a way which allows one to witness the unfolding of time and action as a beautiful process with all the suffering it may impose at moments.

For many years, while living in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, I would go for my morning run down the East River to Domino Park in Williamsburg. It was a short run, maybe three miles in total. When I would get to the park and would do some Kundalini Yoga, breath work, and meditate. Upon meditating, I would take in all the morning sounds of the city. There was a dog run close by as well as children getting their morning crazies out. Sometimes people would be playing volleyball. You would hear the splashing of the water from the river sloshing against the beams from the walkway and the spraying mist from the sprinklers where children would run with glee through them on a hot, humid morning.  The laughter and pitter patter of feet would bring a smile to my face. The few birds and small trees in the area would remind me while I am not in nature, I am still a part of it.

These were the sounds within my immediate surroundings. But there was much more…louder and intrusive sounds. The park is located only about two or three blocks from the Williamsburg Bridge and stands 135 feet high. This bridge in the morning would give you a lot. The trucks making deliveries, honking from frustrated drivers, and the J/M/Z train line would run over it…with all its clanking and chugging. It was a menagerie of frustration and hurry in NY at that time…everyone has to be somewhere they may not want to go.

Another fifty to seventy five feet in the river you would have the ferries. You could hear them cutting through the water. Domino is in between two stops, South Williamsburg and North Williamsburg, so you would hear the air horn blow when arriving and departing each of those stops.

Even further out you would hear the drone of the city. A lot of it came from the plethora of cars driving on the FDR, which provided a drone somewhat similar to a distant ocean. Above the city the flow of air traffic from three air busy airports along with various helicopters coming to and from the heliport on 34th street on the river provided that wonderful hum drum of movement through air.

I really enjoyed meditating in that park…for the description of this time was maybe within 5 seconds. One can hear all these things within and integrate infinite knowledge within the sounds. Yet, the sounds didn’t make it interesting, but rather where I found my mind. The natural aspect of personal comfort is found within the subconscious ability to feel safe. So when in a place akin to Domino Park one must assess their safety before going deep within. So we scan the immediate area around us for threats, then begin to move outward to build in entire sonic landscape, just like using your eyes to scan an area. After this and general safety is established, we listen to it all at once, an orchestra of manufactured nature. But then, what do you focus on? For the louder sounds like helicopters and trains inundate the senses with their abrasive need to be heard. We focus many times due to sheer volume. But then what are we missing? If you focus on the loud things, the laughter becomes drowned out and the magic of a child’s joy becomes background itself. 

Is this not life? How often does one forget to focus on joy rather than the sheer grinding of life? For the further away from joy, the closer to chaos we become. We become addicted to noise…we live on the adrenal rush the hustle brings and we move deeper in the grind than we know. Until one day, you arrive. On that day you realize something is wrong….that something is missing. On that day, you realize you stopped believing in magic and you never saw it coming.

As you move through this day, ask yourself…what do I hear? Then witness how life unfolds itself for you to answer that question. Yoga is not about the time spent within practice, but rather the time the practice spends within you. You must walk alongside Yoga in life and if one must listen, then one should also learn to hear.

To be continued. 

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