Mindful Listening

In our world, traveling at the speed of life, things are often rushed, hurried to get from one thing to another. Communication around the globe is now instananeous, and everything is designed to help us do more, faster. But how much more can we really do? And by moving ever faster, how much of life do we really miss?

This especially goes for musicians. I recently read where speed metal bands are using drum machines to record with because real, human drummers can't play fast enough! What is the point? Where does music just become a blur of unrecognizable sounds passing by at light speed? When does humanity lose touch with everything around it?


This is where Mindful Listening comes in. Mindful Listening can be listening to anything. What it is, is a focused listening where one actually stops all other activities and allows the sounds to be present and experienced fully. Those of us who play Gongs, Singing Bowls, and Ritual Objects know this well. It is striking your instrument and letting the sound unfold, bathing in its vibrations, absorbing both the sound and meaning fully.


As the late John Cage taught us, this can be anything. The next time you are outside, just take a few moments to stand and listen. Listen to the world around you: the birds, the traffic, the wind in the trees,  voices, whatever is happening in the moment. Tune in and slow down, be a part, not apart of the world.


So too in playing/performing. Sometimes everything seems to be in a rush to get to the end. I often have to tell myself to slow down. To just let the sounds be, as that is enough. I need to trust both the sounds and the space between the sounds. I also need to trust that those listening will be patient and follow along.


Here is an audio example from a recent session where I took my time and fell into an unhurried pace:








~ MB

Chop Wood | Carry Water | Play Gongs


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