Sounds happen in the present moment, always.
One of the simplest, ever-present anchors we can use in formal or informal meditation practice is sound.
Start with nearby sounds: your breath softly (or not-so-softly) entering and exiting your nose or mouth, the sounds in the room, the sounds of any voices or music nearby. Move to further away sounds: cars passing by on the road outside, children playing in the distance, dogs barking, birds singing, the wind shaking the tree limbs and leaves.
Right now, even while typing, I can bring myself instantly back to the moment by bringing my awareness to sound. I hear the gentle tapping of the keys on my laptop. I hear the slightly exasperated sighs emitting from my mouth every so often. I hear the giggling voices of the people across the booth from me as they banter. I hear the traffic zooming by outside. I hear birds chirping behind all these urban noises.
Just like in all forms of meditation, my mind often becomes distracted from the sounds and goes off into thinking, worrying, planning, rumination, etc. So I bring it back. I let go of judgment of myself for getting so easily distracted. I let go of a need to label the sounds as pleasant or unpleasant or neutral. I just listen. I hear.
This is a practice we can do formally for several minutes in seated meditation and/or informally throughout the day as a way of reconnecting with the moment, with our breath and our environment. It’s a quick and easy way to get grounded and cultivate gratitude for the miracle of hearing and the music of the sounds all around us. It’s also a nice technique to introduce to children. “See if you can count how many different sounds you hear around us.”
Meditation on sound is an opportunity for us to be curious, open and attentive.
Shhhh. Listen up! What do you hear?