Sensing The Changes

Meditations frequently 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. Listen actively for quick warning signs, such as bangs, cries, or barks; even quiet sounds, like a twig snapping, are important.

Panoramic listening is an attitude of being ready and waiting for the next sudden sound. And, especially nowadays above the constant hum of machines, it is necessary for animals to listen out.

Imagine how early man might listen out for distant wild boar, or nearby tigers or snakes. It depends on where you are and what sort of background noises there are, but i often listen out for dogs and children; at night for hedgehogs and owls. I don't often hear them, that's irrelevant, listening out for them is the vital part.

The Exploration 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

With focused sensing we can focus, think, and do, all at the same time, in a coordinated manner, it's built and trained that way, it's very clever. 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 intensive awareness, animals would die.

The panoramic mode is useless for doing things – and it lacks critical intelligence, it's built to respond instantly – the usefulness for animals is that it makes the things they do safe. And for humans, a side effect of this is that it's an effective method of stopping all pointless abstract thought.

This is not anything mystical or paradoxical ... it's practical, it's natural. We can't think when we're fully alert and on the lookout. Panoramic sensing neutralises abstract thinking,

Throughout evolution, sensing the immediate environment, 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 here and now.

In its most sensitive form, panoramic listening is an intense receptive presence, always ready and waiting, a second before things happen.

Listening-out for sudden changes in the immediate environment is the easiest way to stop the continuous chatter in our minds. It interrupts the abstract thinking systems. 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 Chapter One : The Panoramic Senses