Experience is a miracle. Here’s why (1)

Here’s a beautiful age old question for your contemplation: what is consciousness?

Attempts to define/grasp it have left many a person bamboozled, and yet it is that which is most intimate to us. It almost seems as if we cannot be separate from consciousness, because if we were never conscious then experience could take place. Despite its intimate nature and our long history of philosophers and scientists trying to figure it out, it’s still something that can’t be truly put into words.

In fact, the only thing that we can say with certainty is that we are conscious.

“The easiest way to get into the meditative state is to begin by listening.”

-Alan Watts

The following exercise/meditation is meant for you to contemplate the nature of consciousness through exploration of one facet of your current experience: the sense of hearing. Other than the ability to listen, only a short span of time (approximately 10-15 minutes) is needed for this exercise. No effort is required, the only thing to do is to simply observe your experience.

Let us begin by leaving all impressions, interpretations, judgements, thoughts, and mental noise aside. All plans for later, ambitions for the future, thoughts about yourself, leave them aside for now. Feel free to pick them up later if you want to, for they are not needed for this exercise.

Now become aware of your experience, here and now.

Be it thoughts (about yourself, food, jobs, politics, other people etc.). Be it input from your senses (sounds, touch, smells, taste, etc.). Be it about sensations that your body feels (frission, pleasure, lightness, pain, tightness, relief etc.).

Take a deep, mindful breath.

Now focus on the sounds that you hear. Become aware of the experience of hearing.

What do you hear?

Listen to all the sounds carefully. Do not judge them, for your mind will take care of that. Focus only on the experience of hearing. Do you hear the sound of your own breath? The sound of a bird chirping? The rhythm of your own heart beating? The voices of other people? The music from across the street?

Do not try to judge the sounds you hear. Do not label them. Allow all the sounds that are present to play with your eardrums.

Take a deep, mindful breath.

Search your experience for any border that separates the sounds from INSIDE you to the sounds from OUTSIDE you? Look really hard, try to see if you have ever experienced this ‘border’.

Have you found the border? What does it sound like? Is it bass-y? Is it high? Does the border have a rhythm? What is its tempo? Does it have a melody? Is it located at any distance from you? If so, how far away is it? Does it have any distinguishable characteristics?

Take a deep, mindful breath.

This part is optional, but helpful nevertheless.

Now gently place your pinky finger over your ear-holes, enough to cover them gently. This should muffle the noise a little. Can you find the border now? Or is there only the gentle sound of air moving past your finger into your ear? Have you found a border to your experience of hearing yet?

Take a deep, mindful breath.

Is there a border that separates the INSIDE sounds from the OUTSIDE sounds, or any kind of edge/limit to the experience of hearing? Or is there only ever the experience of hearing?

WITHOUT JUDGEMENT, can it be said that there was never an outside or inside, or even a limit or border to the experience of hearing to begin with?

Take a deep, mindful breath.

Now you may take your pinky finger away from your ears.

Relax into the sounds, and allow yourself to fall deeply into the experience of hearing. All you are doing is just listening and nothing else. Let the sound play with your eardrums.

Take a deep, mindful breath.

You are aware of all sounds as they play with your ears. Is there anything else to the experience of hearing? Is there anything else to listening other than the awareness of sounds as they happen? Search your experience for the answer.

Take a deep, mindful breath.

Could it be that the only thing to the experience of hearing is the awareness of sound? Even when you muffle your ears, is there anything other to the experience of hearing other than the awareness of (albeit muffled) sounds? Contemplate this in lieu of your own experience.

Take a deep, mindful breath once more. Here the exercise/meditation ends.

As stated at the beginning, this contemplation is meant to let you explore one facet of your experience. To emphasize again, no effort is needed, all that is needed is just to listen. Try this practice once-twice a day, preferably just after you wake up, and before you go to sleep.

The next part of the article will reflect more aspects of your experience, so the exercise/meditation is helpful in that regards as we go deeper.

Until then, I wish you love and peace.

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