Do you ever get the feeling that you are just skimming the surface? That life is passing you by and you’re barely aware of what’s going on?
That’s been my experience recently and I was wondering what was wrong and why it didn’t feel quite right.
Then, by chance, I was able to sit in on a rehearsal of a Pauline Oliveros Deep Listening performance.
So What is Deep Listening?
If you haven’t heard of her, Pauline Oliveros, is a musician of sorts.
Why “of sorts?”
Because while she does play the accordion, her real instrument is the human heart as touched by sound and stillness. The tagline of her Deep Listening Institute homepage is:
What sound does your heart make?
Much of her music doesn’t have a written note in it. Instead, she writes a set of listening instructions, some simple, some complicated and some downright baffling.
The Deep Listening website defines Deep Listening in the following manner:
There’s more to listening than meets the ear. Pauline Oliveros herself describes Deep Listening as “listening in every possible way to everything possible to hear no matter what one is doing.”
Basically Deep Listening, as developed by Oliveros, explores the difference between the involuntary nature of hearing and the voluntary, selective nature — exclusive and inclusive — of listening.
Now, I’m far from an expert on Pauline Oliveros or her Deep Listening theories. But as I observed the rehearsal of eight musicians working with her, it struck me that a bit of deep listening would do me good.
My Deep Listening Moment
I started this morning by just sitting still for a while listening to sounds.
I heard airplanes overhead and the slight roar in my left ear. The creaking of the floor overhead. A person on the street a block or two away. And some birds chirping, even in this densely urban environment.
I didn’t hear my heart in an auditory sort of way. But I did feel it’s reassuring beat. I heard my breathing and the rub of my clothing as I moved my arm.
Then, in an Oliveros sort of way, I tried to become aware of the distinctions between the sounds I was making and the surrounding sounds. I finished up by imagining my sounds as a thread twisted in the rope of other sounds around me.
That was it.
For perhaps five minutes, I slowed down and listened more deeply.
Five minutes… you might think that’s not much. But it’s a dive beneath the surface and a wonderful reminder that, as they say, there’s more to life!
I’m hungry to relish the experiences of life more intensely rather than gulping them down in a rush of activity.
Perhaps you’ll find some power in this approach too.
Listen to Your World More Deeply
If you find yourself frustrated by the pace of your life and suspect there must be more, try a bit of Deep Listening. You don’t have to find a quiet place. You can do it anywhere at all.
Start consciously listening for enough minutes so that you can feel your awareness of sounds increase. Then pay attention to the relationship of the sounds you are making to the sounds in the environment. Finally, play with changing your perception a bit. Listen to your sounds as separate from other others and then let them meld together.
Try a few minutes of deep listening today. Then share your experience in the comments below. Or, go quietly over to Facebook and share your experience on expanding and deepening your awareness. How did you feel afterwards?