How Does the Room Sound Right Now?

 How Does the Room Sound Right Now?

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Thousands of books have been written attempting to point people to the difference between mindfulness and “paying attention” as we normally do. I’ve read a lot of these books, and even written a few.

There are simpler ways to get at the concept though.

If you want to grasp what is usually meant by the word mindfulness*, all you need to do is to find the wordplay to a simple question: how does the room sound right now?

By “the room” I really just midpoint wherever you are. You could be in a room, or outside, or in a stadium, in a cave, scuba diving among coral reefs, whatever. The point is there’s unchangingly something to hear, wherever you are.

If you wanted to know how the room sounds, how would you get the wordplay to that question?

Well, you’d listen to it.

Try it now. Find out how the room sounds. Take a good twenty seconds to inquire, by listening.

. . .

So how does it sound?

You might say, “Well I hear the palmtop fan whirring, I hear a large vehicle rumbling virtually out there, maybe a garbage truck. There are some afar voices, and moreover some pigeons warbling out on the eavestrough. I can plane hear my vapor escaping my nose at times.”

That’s not really the wordplay to the question though. It’s a unravelment of the answer. The wordplay was how the room sounded — what you heard when you listened. A unravelment like this doesn’t convey any real knowledge of how the room sounds, just as a unravelment of a sunset will never transfix a prod of people, and a unravelment of your housekey doesn’t let you into the house.

Artist’s depiction of sound

The wordplay to the question of how the room sounds can be unchangingly be found, immediately — and only — by listening. The room begins telling you how it sounds the moment you inquire.

As soon as you stop listening and start doing something else — putting descriptive words to your wits of listening, picturing garbage trucks, pondering the value of birdshit on your shingles — you’re no longer inquiring into the “how it sounds” question. Instead you’re doing tangential tasks (interpreting, describing, etc) which do not unhook the answer.

This is not some Mister Miyagi spiritual mumbo jumbo. I am pointing you to a simple stardom here, between (a) how a room sounds, and (b) how you might describe or interpret those sounds.

Mindfulness is our innate topics to inquire into question (a), and similar questions well-nigh uncontrived experience.

You can wangle this worthiness at any moment of your life by finding the wordplay to “How does the room sound right now?”

“Sometimes what heart know, throne forget” ~Mr. Miyagi

Of course, you can wield this same sort of inquiry with the other senses, using variegated questions.

How does it squint when I tropical my vision right now?

How does my soul finger right now?

What do I taste right now?

Again, well-constructed answers are misogynist just by inquiring. You once have the capacity. You don’t plane need to verbalize the questions without a while, you can just start inquiring well-nigh the answer.

Note that whatever experiences you witness this way do not contain any words. You don’t taste the words “oak” or “dark fruit” in the wine. Uncontrived wits comes in the form of ineffable sense phenomena, not verbal data. You can come up with some words later and refer to your wits with them — “the strawberry was tart and a bit fibrous,” but the taste itself is devoid of words.

By the time you’re mucking well-nigh with words you’re no longer inquiring. In that case, all you need to do is go when to inquiring.

Contains no preservatives, or adjectives

You can inquire this way with any experience, unconfined or small. You can get quite specific with your inquiry:

“How does it finger to rest my hand on my knee?”

“How does that droning noise in the preliminaries sound?”

Or you can get increasingly general:

“What am I experiencing right now?”

Detail reveals itself gradually as you sustain your inquiry. What you might have regarded initially as “total darkness” overdue your sealed eyes, might come to seem increasingly like “a field of shimmering pixely things making dark, mottled patterns.” Of course, this unravelment isn’t the answer, the wordplay is the ineffable field of pixels itself.

As far as I can tell, everything is infinitely detailed like this. Squint long enough, and plane something simple like “darkness” is increasingly ramified than you thought. Sounds contain subtle waverings and oscillations, layers and undertones. The taste of chocolate contains, surprisingly, both pleasant and unpleasant qualities. Pain is not as solid or objectionable as you thought.

Complex and moody

If you play virtually with this sort of uncontrived inquiry, you’ll quickly notice that the wordplay to question (a), whichever one you ask, is never quite what you expect. You sort of know how the office is going to sound when you listen, but it never quite matches your expectations when you do. There’s unchangingly some surprising element.

So if mindfulness is this simple thing we can all do already, why do people meditate for hours and weeks and years?

The short wordplay is that you can stabilize and refine this worthiness to inquire to profound degrees, and that takes a lot of inquiring time. You can get very good at staying with the uncontrived wits of a thing (i.e. the wordplay to question (a)) and get less distracted by your natural reflex to swoop into question (b) in its many forms. You can learn all sorts of tricks for inquiring into experiences you didn’t plane notice you were having.

Site of industrial-strength inquiry

If you do a lot of inquiry, there are moreover a lot of downstream implications to sort through, from all the uneaten detail that’s revealed. For example, you notice sooner or later that there’s really nothing that cannot be inquired into in this way. In other words, there’s nothing you can snift well-nigh yourself whispered from your experiences. So who’s doing the inquiring, anyway?

Also, what is this wits of wanting a thing? How does it unquestionably feel? What do you notice well-nigh the moment when a given instance of “wanting” appears? When you get the thing you want, what happens to the wanting?

What well-nigh when something feels really bad — what happens when you inquire into the the “badness” itself? What would happen you got increasingly interested in what that bad feeling is like than in making it go away?

Upon examination: throbs but does not unquestionably glow

You can untangle a lot of personal problems through inquiry, by looking right at the experiences that make them up. Oh — embarrassment is just this passing gross feeling in my chest that makes me want to indulge in rehashing other embarrassing moments? Maybe I don’t need to stave it like death.

Fascinating stuff, for some people. If this stuff sounds esoteric or wearisome to you, don’t worry well-nigh it. Just try asking and answering the vital (a) question, starting with how the room sounds. Then try it for other things. How does it finger to hold this cup? How does this coffee taste?

Inquire into the real answers to those questions, for ten or twenty seconds here and there throughout the day. You will definitely discover something unexpected.


*See top scuttlebutt unelevated for footnote.

Photos by Kris Atomic, Jonathan Cooper, pmv chamara, Jason Leung, Xuyu Chi, and Julien Tromeur.

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