Nearly every morning when I’m at home, I take my 55-pound rescue dog, Birdie, for a 45+ minute walk. We typically cover two to three miles.
I don’t wear headphones, and I don’t listen to anything. It’s just time for us to walk together, with her on and off the leash searching for squirrels and bunnies, and me just walking.
Near the end of a recent walk, in a patch of woods near our local library, I took a moment to stop and listen.
I realized that the sound of crickets was as loud as it might be in the middle of the night. A few birds chirped. I could hear the hum of the occasional car driving my in the busy street nearby.
My experience of stopping, and noticing, was remarkable. It felt like someone had flipped a switch and turned on all of these sounds that had, of course, been there all along. They had been drowned out, this day and every day, by the endless chatter in my head.
The fact is that we regularly, habitually, separate ourselves from quiet and from being present.
We scan social media and our email. We reflexively pop in headphones whenever we walk anywhere. And, even when we have a chance to experience quiet, we let our heads be filled with an endless cycle of repetitive thoughts.
It can feel difficult to break this pattern, but intentionally listening is actually an easy door to walk through.
Listening gives us something specific to pay attention to, and that something is full of beauty and is ever-changing.
Why not try it, right now?
Wherever and whenever you’re reading this, try this: take 30 seconds, right now to listen. Give yourself this moment.
[PAUSE, STOP READING, CLOSE YOUR EYES, AND LISTEN FOR 30 SECONDS]
Maybe you heard silence, maybe you heard the whir of air conditioning, maybe you heard the bustle around you, maybe you even heard a bird chirping.
This level of connection to the present is available to us every second of every day.
Try not to miss it.