In any given situation there are two ways we can listen: listen in to what’s going on inside, including your own inner dialogue, imagined conversations etc, and listen out to what’s going on the world.
There’s value in both, but sometimes listening in gets addictive and overwhelming, and we need to find an escape. Coming back in this situation means coming back to the sounds around you.
Unless you happen to be in a floatarium tank, there are bound to be sounds around. A great way to anchor your attention back in the real world when walking from A to B is just to listen in to the sound of your feet striking the pavement or floor. You may also hear the sound of the material of your clothes swishing as you move.
Or just listen to the general background noise, whether it’s traffic, air conditioning, chat or whatever. Imagine if someone ha d recorded it and was playing it back – you’d hear it differently because insteading of tuning it out as you usually do, you’d be giving it your attention.
Many meditation methods emphasise the breath as an ‘anchor’ to reality, but it’s still an internal sound. Giving your attention to the outside world – in the form of the sounds around you – places you in the real world and out of your thoughts, and can be not only a source of relief but of interest and even fascination.
Photo: Feet walking. Flickr creative commons by xJason.Rogersx