Religious thinkers usually talk about being now as a deep and lasting experience. I'm talking about the simple sense of now which every animal has, and we could so easily relearn.

Sensing The Changes

Meditations often practice listening to everything, or listening for silence. This essay is about listening for changes. It's the alertness to change which is vital to animals, and change always happens now.

Listening out and Nowness

Listening has an immediacy which the other senses don't have, and this is because sounds are sometimes very sudden and over in a split second. Smells and sights usually last at least a few seconds.

Listening to everything is a good first step, but then listen out for specific sounds. Especially nowadays above the constant hum of machines, it is necessary for animals to listen out, to listen actively for quick warning signs, such as bangs, cries, or barks; even quiet sounds, like a twig snapping, are important.

Imagine how early man might listen out for distant wild boar, or herds of oxen or buffalo, and nearby tigers or snakes. I often listen out for dogs and children; or at night for hedgehogs and owls. I don't often hear them, that's irrelevant, listening out for them is the vital part.

In its most sensitive form, panoraming is an intense receptive presence, always ready and waiting, a second before things happen. And this neutralises abstract thinking, we can't think when we're alert, on the lookout.

The Appendix of panoramic exercises discusses various other listening exercises, and develops the idea that it's the alertness to change which is vital to any animal's survival.

Note: Don't be too idealistic - if machines in the environment are annoyingly loud you can try listening over them, but i find modern earplugs are essential - and then humming is often useful.

How to Neutralise the Self-perpetuating Thoughts

Being now is much more than just not thinking, but this is the first noticeable effect.

Animals need to use their panoramic senses every day, continually throughout the day and night. Humans lack the motivation, We have no need for it's original use, we have made material life safe. But this side effect of a split seconds' peace of mind, without the continuous wheels of thought, is still immensely valuable, especially in modern human life.

Whether it's a side effect or an integral part of life, throughout evolution, sensing the panorama, has been the unquestionable and natural way to switch off, stop doing everything and be receptive for a moment. And for animals, this is a constant reminder of how it feels to be still, and to be now.

By empathising with the animals' intensity of panoramic awareness, especially by listening out, we can't think.

With focused sensing we can focus, think, and do, all at the same time, in a coordinated and concentrated way, it's built and trained that way. To concentrate with the panoramic senses, we can't think or do anything at the same time, it's impossible – and impractical, without a pure and intensive awareness, animals would die.

The panoramic mode is useless for doing things, its usefulness is that it makes them safe, and it is very effective against pointless abstract thought. And it's not anything mystical or paradoxical ... it's just practical. Panoraming interrupts the abstract thinking systems.

It stops the continuous chatter in our minds, it's a moment of being and feeling still inside, a moment of direct peace of mind.

Please continue with Mindfulness of Breathing and Smelling

Back to Part One : Panoramic Sensing