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Learn to Meditate in Minutes!

About 25 years ago I taught two of my three daughters to ride their two-wheel bikes in about 1/2 an hour, both of them at the same time, without training wheels. Meditation can be that easy. More on meditation without training wheels in a minute. But first …

I work with sound and sound gear. So my language around metaphysics is shaped by terms from sound, music and audio physics.

For example, I’m very interested in the experience of Stillness –– the conscious cessation of thought, and how long it takes to reach this place of peaceful stillness. I use the term “declination time to stillness” to acknowledge the fact that some time is required for the mind to go from being flooded with thoughts, to becoming still, open, spacious and aware of being aware –– to achieve a meditative, or contemplative state.

All sounds that can be heard start from stillness, grow, reach a peak, sustain a steady level for some time, then gradually fade away as energy is depleted. We could say all sound emerges from silence or stillness, evolves, then fades into stillness again.

In musical physics this sequence is called the Attack, Decay, Sustain, Release (ADSR) envelope and describes, in broad terms, how the amplitude (volume) of a sound varies with time. Today I’ve been contemplating the Release term of the ADSR sequence –– the amount of time it takes for a sound to fade to zero, after the plateau of the Sustained state has started to decline. A declination time to stillness.

Many people express frustration they can’t meditate, or can’t “do it right”. They know the practice of achieving a still mind is good for them, but they become impatient with the inevitable intrusion of thoughts when they attempt to meditate. This impatient frustration explains, to some extent, the current popularity of “mindfulness meditation” –– a practice whereby one simply allows thoughts to arise, notice them, and not attempt to intentionally clear the mind.

Mindfullness meditation is a good place to start as we begin the slow descent from an active mind to a mind of stillness. But, ah … how can I say this gently? I regard mindfulness meditation in the same way I regard training wheels on a child’s bike. What a misnomer –– “training wheels”. This device does not teach bike riding, it teaches reliance on a device.

Two of my three daughters, ages 5 and 7 I believe, learned to ride two-wheel bikes without training wheels in 1/2 an hour by this means –– through the safe, direct experience of riding a bike! Duh. Here’s how it worked … 

Both of their bikes were set up so their seats were as low as possible. Their feet could walk-glide on the ground. We found a very gentle sloping portion of their maternal grandparents driveway where they could safely glide and scoot down a very gentle incline toward the lawn –– no danger of riding out into a street.

They simply sat on their bikes and scooted themselves along as gravity and the stabilizing, gyroscopic effect of the turning wheels showed them a bike is inherently stable and just needs to be effortlessly guided by subtle shifts of weight.

After a few scoots down the gradual incline I encouraged them to passively place their feet on the pedals and coast down the incline with their feet off the ground. A few more glides like that and I encouraged them to start to pedal. We were all amazed. Two new bike riders in minutes. No tears or frustration, just joy of movement! You see, they gradually learned to be directly aware of the experience of riding a bike –– not to rely on a substitute for riding a bike.

The same technique can be use in “learning to meditate”. It just takes a little bit of time, and placing one’s awareness on empty stillness, as opposed to placing focus on the thought forms one is supposed to “accept without judgement”. This direct cessation of thougth, or direct observation of stillness, is often called an advanced meditation technique and reserved for those with experience sitting with a mantra, breath observation or similar. “Advanced” –– ha I say! What is simpler than direct observation of the state one wishes to achieve?

This takes an intention to be patient and place one’s attention on the negative space –– thoughtless awareness. This takes a bit of time, just like a sound gradually fading away, releasing its energy as it transitions to stillness.

But if one is willing to be patient, to be generous and extend non judgmental awareness to each passing moment, the mental declination time to stillness will be observed, and will become shorter –– and stillness itself maintained for longer durations.

For thousands of years, bells and chimes have been used as practice aids to help those who wish to reach a state of still-mind awareness. Simply by striking a bell or chime once (or by plucking a stringed instrument once) and by listening to the gradual fade of the tone, one becomes aware of this truth ––– activity gradually declines to inactivity, if no further energy is applied.

A bell struck once or a guitar string plucked once will release its energy, over time, and fade to stillness. Of course this is so obvious it seem absurd when read as words. But just try this and listen. Really listen. If you really listen to the strike tone, then hear the gradual fading away from moment to moment, you cannot be thinking. Try this experiment with any object around your house you can strike or pluck that can make a sustained sound. A bowl, a glass, a vase. There is a big difference between reading about an experience, and direct experience itself. Try this. 

Experiencing the reality of the declination time to stillness of a sound gives you direct knowledge of this reality: Change of state is possible, but moment to moment transition “time” is required. This is just like learning to ride a bike by direct experience. 

By experiencing the reality of declination time to stillness of a struck bell or plucked string, you will then be more patient with yourself as you begin to let go of thoughts and experience your own declination time to stillness.

Yes, mindfulness meditation –– recognizing and allowing thoughts to be, is a good start. This is a practice of releasing judgement, extending patience and accepting the “is-ness” of the moment that has already arrived. But you can go beyond mindfulness meditation to pure, still, alert awareness. Consciousness free from conceptual thinking. Your essence self.

Be patient with yourself, observe the gradual fade of sounds into background stillness, and know your mind can return to stillness as well –– the source of all potentiality. Simply wait out the mental busyness. Strike your bell again and observe the fade to stillness.

The very first time you try this you will be pleasantly surprised to observe it is possible for you to experience some periods of non-thinking awareness. With practice, the declination time to stillness will shorten, and the duration of stillness will lengthen. All without effort. All by simply observing the gradual fade of sounds and allowing your mind to resonate to this simple truth –– a system will release its energy and return to stillness, if not activated again.

If if you get frustrated, just go ride a bike and don’t think about it 😉

Oh, the eventual return of thought is a topic for another day ; )

Spiritual Ego Comparison Mind Dude

What we call perception, is quite frequently misperception that causes us to suffer.

I’m a voracious reader and relentless information gatherer. This is empowering, but comes with risks. We all know how easy it is to start reading one news story or blog post and end up reading a dozen related posts or stories. Some of those follow-on stories can lead to suffering. This happened to me last night.

As the inventor of the N.O.W. Tone Therapy System and co-founder of the startup solu, one of my responsibilities is to be on the lookout for business development opportunities, or threats, in the news. I learned how to do this when I had a stint in the radio business from 1999 – 2002 as a new business development research director.

My job was to read widely and summarize business development opportunities I saw in the news, and then teach sales execs how to use this information to generate new sponsorship advertising revenue. It was a great job. I got paid to read, think, write and teach –– outside of academia but within the fast paced word of radio broadcasting. I trained myself to speed read at about 600 words a minute for 3 – 4 hours a day –– somewhat over 100,000 words a day, a novel if you’re counting. That’s about three times faster than the US average reading speed.

I only mention the speed and volume of my reading to illustrate the magnitude of the particular risk I face –– that of allowing my egoic mind to flair up during my reading and cause me to suffer.

Here’s an example of how it works in my case.

Last night I was working my way through my Google Alerts and gathered news stories. The usual daily load –– about 200 stories to scan. Since I’m in the sound business, and have a sound-for-mindfulness product, N.O.W., my interest was really piqued when I came across a story about a mass meditation session to be held at the Okeechobee Music Festival in Florida which opens March 1.

Mass meditation is a wonderful concept being developed and promoted by a rather special millennial named Jesse Israel. Do a search for a video blog conversation between Jesse and ABC News’ Dan Harris to see what I’m talking about.

Anyway, before too long I’m following links off of the Mind Body Green blog story about Jesse’s “Big Quiet” event to be held at the Okeechobee Music Festival and I’m zooming around cyberspace and wham, I land at Sara Auster’s site.

Sara Auster is a Sound Therapist, lecturer, recording artist and presenter of sound baths. She has a beautiful site, she does beautiful work and she’s having a positive impact in the world all while living in New York with easy access to artisanal Kombucha, Kimchee and other fermented food that would make Sandor Katz drool. See where I’m going? Looks like a charmed life. I like the looks of her website, her life and that easy access to artisanal, Brooklyn-bred pickles.

See what’s happening? “Spiritual Ego Comparison Mind” has entered.

Spiritual Ego Comparison Mind is one tricky mofo. That dude is sneaky, patient and knows when to pounce. It rides along on my shoulder as I read, pretty soon is starts to whisper “psst –– will you look at that Sara Auster. You could be doing all that. Look at her website, all pretty little delicate dividing lines and 9 point font and shit. You could be doing that. And omg, looks at that creamy-white fucking vinyl LP! Fucking hell, you grew up with vinyl and didn’t come to it as a retro artisan pickle-munching Brooklynite!”.  Spiritual Ego Comparison Mind Dude goes on like this until …

… I’m all knotted up with judgment, envy, fear, attack thoughts and impatience. Suffering.

This doesn’t happen to me too often because I know the dangers of news reading and I read with conscious awareness or “Presence” as Eckhart Tolle calls it. As I read, I’m aware that I’m reading. The essence me, consciousness, is awake and aware. I’m not identified with the word-forms I’m reading. My consciousness is not asleep in other words. That’s how I read most of the time.

But when I’m tired after a long day and my alertness has waned, and vigilance is lacking, then big bad mofo Spiritual Ego Comparison Mind Dude takes over and causes me to suffer. He doesn’t harsh my chill for too long though. He might ruin the rest of the evening, but I never to go bed without recognizing what has happened to me and set an intention to let it go. Let it go. My body, with all that frigg’n electro-chemical / emotional soup coursing around does not let it go so quickly. But setting an intention to Let It Go seems to do the trick, mentally, overnight.

Letting it go is non-doing. A return to the equilibrium of stillness. And somehow this reinforces my desire, willingness and capability to be less reactive, less judgmental and avoid the suffering that arises from comparison mind.

So thanks to Mind Body Green, Jesse Israel and Sara Auster for this teaching!

Using Stillness To Fix Broken Things

Early this morning, I thought I heard Sufi master Hazrat Inyat Khan whispering to me in Sanskrit. But it was myself disguised as Hazrat Inyat Khan speaking to me.

His words reminded me of being a 23 year old electronics technician faced with fixing yet another broken piece of gear. Hazrat said to me: “Michael, do you remember when you discovered stillness could solve your problems?”.

So many times early in my career I encounter what seemed to be insurmountable problems. Many times, because I was the “fixer”, not someone doing go / no-go tests. I got the no-go stuff and was called on to fix broken things.

Day after day a failed peice of audio gear arrived from one of our customers –– motion picture theater operators. Day after day a new “problem”. An endless supply of broken electronic things stacked up, waiting for me to fix them. Day in and day out, more broken electronic things, each with their own unique issue. It seemed never-ending. I had this job because I was good at fixing broken electronic things, though I rarely enjoyed the struggle.

In retrospect, it seems my 14 years working for this employer, first as a repair tech then as a reduction-to-practice engineer, gave me opportunities to practice stillness and learn stillness is the source that illuminates the way through the darkness of our challenges.

I worked for a company called Kintek, Inc. first in Newton, then later in Waltham, Massachusetts outside of Boston.

Kintek was a sister company of a legendary professional audio product company called dbx Inc. dbx was a pioneer in the field of analog noise reduction and dynamic range modulation systems. We competed very successfully against the much more widely known Dolby Labs.

Dolby was quite well known as a result of their technology licensing arrangements with manufacturers of consumer cassette players. Anyway, my employer dbx Inc. had more channels of professional, analog audio noise reduction installed on tape machines in recording studios than Dolby Labs and was the market leader. 

As a result of their success in the recording studio market, dbx Inc. founders David Blackmer and Zaki Abdun-Nabi started Kintek Inc. to manufacture sound systems for the motion picture industry which was undergoing a period of change and improvement.

Up until the release of the first Star Wars movie in 1977 all motion pictures had mono soundtracks. Hard to believe, right? Mono. Like an AM radio dude. One speaker behind the screen just like the first “talkie” in 1927 –– 50 years earlier.

The success of Star Wars with its immersive surround sound technology and booming subwoofer bass changed that and drove a rapid, industry-wide effort to upgrade movie theater sounds systems from archaic mono, to state of the art surround sound. This was the context I walked into one sunny day in May 1980, fresh from my days as a punk rock guitarist (1963 SG with “Gibson Girl” case) in the band Baby Murphy from San Francisco.

My boss said, “Ok Mike, here’s a stack of non-functional dynamic range expanders (a “single ended” noise reduction system used in Kintek’s theater sound system). See if you can fix one. Here’s the schematic. See you later”. Hmmm … a harsh landing after floating in the space of late ’70’s San Francisco paying guitar, collecting unemployment compensation and working two nights a week for pin money as a pizza cook.

Multi-band, analog, linear-decibel, dynamic range expansion. Whoa.

The systems I got to work on were beautiful expressions of the mind of their inventor, a legendary audio product design engineer named David Blackmer –– the “db” in dbx Inc.  (the “x” stood for “expansion”). This type of circuit was perfected and patented by Blackmer, it performed the function of “pushing down” the optical soundtrack noise of clicks, pops, scratches and a fine haze of hiss … so the dialog, music and sound effects would be heard more clearly and with more impact. Alchemy. Blackmer designed and perfected the concept. I got to fix them when they broke.

Each Kintek KT-21 Dynamic range expander has about 1000 analog parts, both individual “discrete” components like transistors, resistors and capacitors as well as “integrated circuit chips” –– complete sub assemblies in small 8 or 16 pin packages. The complete cinema sound system was built into a standard 19” wide case with “rack ears” and screwed into a 6 foot tall, floor standing “relay rack” –– a sort of an electrical closet descended from the early days of telephone switching racks and vacuum tube computers like MIT’s “Whirlwind I”.

Complicated. The incoming audio would be split by filters into three parallel processing paths, one each for bass, mid and treble ranges. Then each band would feed both amplitude level monitors and voltage controlled amplifiers. At the output, the three signal bands would be combined again and sent on their merry way to the next 19” wide piece of gear in the system.

There were seven, different, yet related 19” wide boxes in a full Kintek cinema sound system. While I worked on all these pieces of gear, the dynamic range processor was probably my favorite (though the surround sound processor has a special place in my heart) because, well, it did its magic of pushing noise down in real time, NOW, and no one in the audience was the wiser for it.

This equipment would occasionally fail due to heat stress. Projection booths in the early 80’s were still very hot environments that pushed electronic circuits to their operating temperature limits.

Two big projectors with Xenon lamps (and the rare carbon-arc lamp) made the smallish projection booth a place where one could comfortably wear a light shirt in the middle of a New England winter as these booths were often 85 – 90 degrees Fahrenheit.  There were more equipment failures due to heat stress than would normally be found in consumer audio equipment operated in the cooler environment of a home.

So I owed my job to a lot of old school, dual-projector, projection booths baking my employer’s equipment to death across the US, Europe, Japan and China.

But stillness … back in Waltham, MA there would be another corpse on my bench.

You know that odd habit guys have when their car breaks down? The one where one dude opens the hood and the two other two dudes stand around peering into the engine compartment? That one. Rarely can one actually see what is wrong. But yet we look. You know why we look? Because looking under the hood is a manly man sanctioned way of getting still and spacious and that leads to fixing things.

I used to do the same thing with the broken electronic gear I had to fix –– take off the covers, and just look. On the surface of it, looking at an electronic system while in a state of stillness is even more absurd than looking into automobile engine compartment. There are no moving parts in an electronic circuit to be observed!

Yet I would look. And wait. And cast a soft gaze that moved from input transformer to output transformer and all 1000 parts in between. Sort of a loving gaze of wonderment that Blackmer had invented this thing, and he and his business partner had built a multimillion dollar company to make them and sell them around the world.

Observing the intricate patchwork of parts and printed circuit board signal traces was like looking at a city from 20,000 feet. Just gazing. Nothing moving, Stillness. Nothing to read, Stillness. Nothing to hear, Stillness.

This is a kind of healing, is it not? –– to separate oneself from disfunction, silently and wordlessly observe the pure, honest, correctness of stillness –– the stillness before functionality resumes, the stillness that is already perfect. Seeing the perfect stillness of an inactive circuit in front of me, gave rise to the “perception of perfect stillness” within me. Healing proceeds from the perception of perfection that already is

After a few minutes of stillness and gazing,  I’d turn my attention to the actual circuit roadmap –– the 2 x 3 foot schematic blueprint, hook up my signal generators and oscilloscope and get to work tracing signals, finding road blocks and replacing failed components. Now, I’d fix those broken things by doing something.

But restoring those electronic corpses to life, bringing health to them again, proceeded from my own spacious stillness, first.

Tuning in to the Stillness Channel

In your creative work as a musician, writer, painter, software engineer, business development exec etc., have you tried tuning into the Stillness Channel lately? The Stillness Channel doesn’t require a special cable TV package or monthly streaming audio subscription. Nope, the Stillness Channel is available 24/7/365 where ever you are, like right now. 

But there’s a catch, all of the great programing content that gets sent to you for free over the Stillness Channel is not on-demand programming. lol. You have to wait for it to start.

Unlike the digital world of on-demand television and YouTube programing, the Stillness Channel only delivers its programming when you have become sufficiently quiet, trusting and patient ––tuned in … open, receptive and non judgmental in other words.

Access Stillness Channel Programming Through Cessation of Thought

Well, you may need to brush up, dust off and polish your ability to let go of your habit of incessant, unwanted thinking –– thinking that a lot of the time you don’t even realize you are doing.

Yeah, yeah. If I had a penny for every time I’ve heard someone tell me “my mind is so busy, I just cant stop thinking” I could buy the next person who tells me that a new copy of the Power of NOW. So this is a common belief –– “I can’t stop thinking”.

Cessation of thinking does not come from a place of “doing” or trying to do. Cessation of thinking is a “letting go” of thought. You can demonstrate to yourself, right now, your ability to let go of thinking, even if its only for a few seconds.  Do so will prove you can experience cessation of thinking, and then, gradually extend the duration of the aware, non-thought state of consciousness that allows Stillness Channel transmission to enter.

Here’s the exercise in cessation of thinking. We’ll use auditory awareness as a tool. I have often said that one cannot listen attentively and be thinking at the same time. I’m not a neuroscientist, I don’t know how this works. I do know this it is true because I’ve been dong this for almost 60 years. Here’s how …

… bring your attention to your auditor perception. For people not used to intentionally shifting focus from visual to auditory perception you can close your eyes to cut down on visual stimulation. No matter where you are, notice there is a broad, spatially distributed ambient sound field in which there are many constituent components.

Single out one particular sound component –– your partners snoring, the incessant car alarm, the indistinct murmur of the TV in the next apartment, the constant parade of footsteps outside your window. It does not matter what you select as the sound object of your attention. Simply bring your focus to this sound object.

Notice how the sound object has dynamic qualities –– it starts and stops, its tempo changes, the bass to treble balance may shift, it may appear to come closer then recede, it may become obscured by other sounds. It may cease and present its absence for you to observe … wondering, (wordlessly) if it might return, and when.

Please note you are not to “analyze” the sound object of your attention. I’m nearly suggesting ways you can pay attention aurally, how your brain is capable of a richness of auditory perception.

Notice you can make all of these observations of a particular sound and no thought or analysis is required of you to hear them. The sound object of your focus simply IS. Recognition that something IS making a sound does not require thought. Ha! Tricked you into cessation of thinking!

This is a super cool skill to have. It’s portable. It can be practiced any time and anywhere. In the beginning you’ll find you may be able to sustain vigilant focus on a sound object, and cease thinking, for a few seconds, a half minute or so before your vigilance slips and thoughts return. No matter. Intentional vigilance because stronger with use like any muscle.

Now that you have a tool to use that can help you experience intentional cessation of thinking you can use this gap between thoughts, to tune into the Stillness Channel and receive special programming made just for you!

After Cessation of Thinking –– Trust and Patience

Doh. I forgot to mention. In addition to the ability to effect cessation of thinking, you have to practice trust and patience, because, as I said, the Stillness Channel does support on-demand programming.

Haha. In fact, one could say that very first bit of programming content sent by the Stillness Channel is a lesson in trust and patience. Once cessation of thinking has occurred, one can move into a state of trust that the Great Big Breakthrough Idea or Insight is going to be sent to you through the Stillness Channel –– but you have to be patient and wait for it to be delivered.

So the sequence of getting new ideas, insights, problem-solving ability from the Stillness Channel looks like this: [Cessation of thinking] ––> [Trust] ––> [Patience] ….

In my experience, the duration of the patience period seems to be directly related to how successfully I ceased thinking and also to the magnitude of the Trust felt. To quote A Course in Miracles … “Infinite patience brings immediate results”. lol.

If A Course in Miracles is not your cup of tea, perhaps this insight from Albert Einstein might convince you of the power that comes through the Stillness Channel: “I thinking and 99 times out of 100 nothing comes to me. I sit in silence and wait and my problem is solved”.

Ok then … so now you’re all thought-free, you’re trusting that some frig’n Insight with a capital I is going to arrive, you’re super chill and patient like “whenever you’re ready dude, bring it on”. What happens next, what does Stillness Channel programming look and sound like?

In my experience, the programming begins with an increase awareness of the subjective states of peace, acceptance, and importantly –– an increase in a subjective awareness of capability. I begin to get a sense that I’m capable of doing or thinking whatever needs to be done or thought. to address the task at hand. Again, this is a pre-thought, feeling-state of increased capability.

For example, if my purpose for tuning into the Stillness Channel was to receive some programming I could use in my writing …. after the increased capability state arrives, I then begin to notice one or two word thematic concepts or perhaps a phrase.

With more cessation of thought, trust and patience comes another idea-though related to the first thoughts. At this early stage of insight recognition I find it important to continue to the simultaneous practice of intentional listening that causes cessation of thinking, continue to trust more content is going to come, and be patient while waiting and accepting the blankness of the interruption in Stillness Programming that is natural.

I have a hunch the first few insights that arrise from Nothing are so startling to the conscious mind the brain comes up out of an meditative Alpha state and wants to get all Beta state and get to work. Careful –– the ego-ic self loves to jump in here “out of the dude, I got this”. One needs to let this urge go. Just just down the idea, play the melody or make a quick sketch. But quickly return to vigilant listening focus, cessation of thinking, Trust and Patience –– these are the keys to tuning into the Stillness Channel and prompting a resumption of the program content delivery free from messy and disruptive ego-ic usurpation.

As you become more deeply tuned into the Stillness Channel there will come a point at which the flood gates open and an outpouring of content commences. Now you simply have to switch to becoming more active as you write, play, sketch or paint to transcribe the insight that has arisen in you as delivered by the Stillness Channel.

Oh, a side note –– The Stillness Channel programming content originates in the Universal Curriculum that is not time or space bound. For example, one can tap into the power of Lau Tzu’s “Tao Te Ching” today, even though it was written in ancient Chinese 2500 years ago. Same for Ralph Waldo Emerson’s “Essays” even though they were written in “flowery” 19th language. So perennial philosophy texts like these can be used as focus aide prior to tuning into the Stillness Channel.

Another time I’ll talk about the Stillness Channel as a bidirectional medium of communication –– it is not only a one-way transmit / receive channel as I’ve described here.

Happy Listening!

Transcending Mobility Restrictions

Intentional active listening can help those with mobility restriction experience freedom from those physical restrictions or challenges.

Whether the mobility restriction is due to incarceration or impaired physical health, active listening exercises show the practitioner that consciousness, “awareness of being aware”, can be a means of transcending physical world limitations. And further, transcendence of physical limitation is available at a moment’s notice, anytime.

First, to honor those who are incarcerated or who experience mobility challenges due to impaired physical health, I want to acknowledge that fact that physical mobility restriction is mentally challenging. The very real mobility restrictions encountered by the body are often perceived by the mind in ways that give rise to mental suffering.

The desire to be free to come and go, to be mobile and move about the world on a whim is strong.  However, dwelling on past mobility or desiring future mobility gives rise to suffering as the mind, sooner or later recognizes the present moment impossibility of such physical mobility. Perhaps one way to lessen the suffering of mobility restriction is to lessen focus on what is lacking –– the lack of physical mobility, and instead use the brain’s ability to perceive “unboundedness” –– freedom from restriction.

Through practicing awareness of unbounded sound one can become aware that one’s consciousness knows no physical boundaries and is free to move, now.

The essence of this practice is to intentionally bring auditory focus to sounds occurring outside the space the listener is presently confined to. Perception and acceptance of truth leads to a more subjectively peaceful state of mind than when one is actively engaged in fighting against physical restrictions or mentally rejecting the reality of the “is-ness” of the mobility restrictions.

The practice of transcending mobility restrictions does not fight the mobility restriction, but rather is a practice of accepting an alternate reality –– unboundedness. The perception of a thing makes it so in the mind of the perceiver. Lets look at an example.

Let us imagine a person who has mobility restriction as a result of incarceration or a physical health challenge that restricts them to a room, a wheelchair or hospital bed.

Let us also imagine the world outside of the room, the chair, the bed. Let us imagine a world where planes fly overhead and move from left to right across a perceptual “sound stage”. Let us imagine a world where birds sing or squawk –– out of reach, but not out of ear shot. Let us imagine a world where the distant hum or roar of automobile traffic on a highway can be heard but not seen.

All of these examples show us it is possible to perceive sounds, right now, that are occurring outside of the boundaries of the space the listener is presently restricted to. Notice the perceptional shift from bodily movement restriction to awareness of unbounded sound.

And if the listener can make just one small further perceptual leap, that of “being aware of being aware” the listener will experience themselves as a consciousness that cannot be bounded by physical mobility restrictions.

One can as easily brings one’s awareness to unbounded “awareness of awareness” as to awareness of physical mobility restrictions. One is free to make this choice. The choice to direct one’s awareness is not controlled by the jailer or the physical health issue.

Realizing this reality is a transcendent moment. Realization that one is not simply limited to being a physical body (on which physical restrictions can be imposed) brings with it a lessening of suffering brought on by the desire to be physically free. And, as we’ve seen, this realization occurs in the present moment –– no time is required to experience it. Well … only the amount of time it takes for one to wake up to the fact that they are consciousness, unbounded by physical restrictions.

Exercise: Intentionally bring awareness to distant sounds occurring outside the physical boundaries of the space you are confined to. Mentally “step back” and notice you are aware –– that you know you can perceive these unbounded sounds. The “you” that notices “awareness of being aware” is consciousness awakened from the slumber of form-identification –– of only being aware of physical forms, and in this case, only being aware of the restrictions experienced by the body. Hold in the mind this awareness of being aware of unbound sound. This is transcendence of physical mobility restriction.

N.O.W. as Teacher of Oneness

The N.O.W. Tone Therapy System can be experienced as a teaching of oneness awareness.

By design, N.O.W. can create a tonal / spatial environment the listener can interact with use to become more familiar with the differences between separation and Oneness. It is helpful to experience degrees of Oneness from the same simple teaching materials, because this demonstrates awareness of Oneness is a matter of perception and knowledge, and does not rely on the physical properties of forms. 

Phew. Let’s unpack that a bit.

As I’ve noted before, I regard N.O.W. as a delivery system of teachings. While I co-developed N.O.W., and invented its physical form and functions, I am simply the messenger and not originator of the messages of its teachings.

When I speak of N.O.W. as a delivery system of teachings, this is something my co-developer Alene Sibley and I gradually became aware of, as told to us by listening to N.O.W. itself, and not something we personally designed into N.O.W.

As a result of our “outsider” relationship to N.O.W., Alene and I have no hesitation speaking of its various qualities or power –– because we’re not speaking about our own ideas, will, intention or desires. We’re speaking about a system that manifested through our particular technical, artistic and intuitive intelligences, and, gosh darn it, hard work ; )

In short, the N.O.W. experience is something we’re helping to deliver to the world, not something that is the product of our own will.

N.O.W. continues to surprise us on a daily basis and reveal something new. Today I became aware that N.O.W. can be experienced as a teaching about the ever-present reality of Oneness, but the experience of Oneness is up to the individual to perceive.

Let us recall that N.O.W.’s physical form consists of two self-powered speakers with built in tone sequence generators. The speakers have no wired or wireless connection to each other. The tone sequence generators in each speaker have no connection to each other. In other words, N.O.W. is a dual mono, asynchronous, tone sequence system. It is definitely not stereo (whereby there is a singular, left-to-right stereo sound stage created by two speakers).

The dual mono, asynchronous aspect of N.O.W. is one of 7 key, patent-pending aspects I’ll touch on in different blog entries, but today’s focus is on the “One from Two” aspect of N.O.W.

When you see N.O.W., the eyes show you two objects. When you hold N.O.W., the hands feel two objects. But when you hear N.O.W., depending on your distance from it, you experience varying degrees of Oneness created from apparently separate forms. This is one of N.O.W.’s transcendent teachings, a teaching delivered without symbolic, dualistic language. A teaching delivered though the power of pure non-conceptualized sound itself.

We can experiment with, and experience degrees of Oneness awareness.

Simply take up N.O.W. into your hands, one speaker in each hand. Notice your eyes see two separate objects. Notice your hands feel two separate objects.

Turn on both N.O.W. speakers. Notice how separate impulse tones are heard coming from the speaker in your left and from the speaker in your right hand. Also notice that occasionally some sustained tones appear to float between both speakers or travel back and forth between them.

While N.O.W. is literally “close at hand” you are very close to, and observant of, its physical form –– both the visual appearance of two separate objects and the tactile sensation of two separate objects. With N.O.W. in your hands, and in your field of view, you are largely aware of the separate contributions of the separate speakers. You are aware of separation.

Now place the two N.O.W. speakers next to each other on a surface some 6 feet or so away from you and return to your sitting place. Either close your eyes, or shift your gaze away from N.O.W. itself. Notice how you now hear a single, unified tonal sequence.

Yes, from moment-to-moment (the dimension of “time”) you hear one impulse tone after another. But in the present moment (the spatial dimension), you hear no separation of the two speakers. In fact, the sustained tones, can at various points in the 3 minute listening session, appear to be hovering at different point in the room (this is a quality of the interaction pure, sustained sine wave tones and physical room boundaries and not a some sleight of hand).

By physically removing ourselves from near proximity to the N.O.W. Tone Therapy System we are more able to observe its ability to show us an experience of Oneness. This truth can be experienced both as a spiritual metaphor and as present moment reality. Become still, shift your perceptual awareness from nearby physical forms and become aware of a unified field of Oneness. See the forest from the trees in other words.

This exercise of contrast, whereby we first bring awareness to separation then to Oneness, is a powerful demonstration of how focus on physical form can obscure the more subtle reality of Oneness resident within and amongst all forms.

This is why I say N.O.W. delivers a teaching on the degrees of awareness of Oneness –– and how we can transcend perception to directly know Oneness. 

Truth and Lies

In these days of unprecedented (and unpresidential) lying, I’ve been looking for truth.

While liars are quick to speak and obsfucate, truth remain true and can be felt as such. It seems that the liar is quick to speak and distract the listener who would inevitably perceive the truth which always speaks with a softer, gentler and somewhat delayed voice.

When we are lied to we are being told something is true when the facts demonstrate otherwise. Being lied to creates cognitive dissonance and feelings of unease. When lied to, the mind and body of the seeker of truth recoils.

On the other hand, if the lie being told supports a person’s position on an issue then the listener is apt to ignore evidence to the contrary and cheer the liar on. Boisterous enthusiasm obscures quiet questioning and cognition of truth.

The main tool of the liar is rapidity and volume of utterance. The liar is quick to promulgate mistruth, and loudly so, in an attempt (often successful, we see these days) to fill a quiet gap of stillness in which truth can be perceived.

I’ve been looking for truth. Recently it occurred to me that intentional listening can reconnect us to what truth feels like and thereby sharpen our ability discern truth from lies, purely on the basis of our own “gut” reaction and the welling up of knowledge from stillness.

In other words, intentional listening to sounds that contain truths, can be used as a practice to help us remember again what truth feels like and thereby contrast the feeling-state that arises from the cognitive dissonance when being lied to.

What is truth in sound?

There is a rather miraculous example of truth-in-sound. It can be heard in the naturally occurring harmonic series –– the overtone series that arises when a tensioned string is plucked for example.

The truth of the harmonic series has been demonstrated from the time of Pythagoras on. A string can be stretched and tensioned so that when plucked it will oscillate back and forth 100 times per second. Our ears are sensitive to the vibratory energy of air molecules in motion, and our brain interprets a 100 cycle per second disturbance of air molecules to have a particular pitch. In the case, 100 cycles per second is a fairly low bass note as might be sung by a male bass singer.

In addition to the 100 cycle per second vibration, the string in the example above also generates overtones (at lesser amplitude) at 200, 300 … etc. cycles per second. This is the harmonic series: 1,2,3 … It always occurs in the production of sound created by tuned sound sources such as strings, wind instruments or the human voice.

While the amplitude of each element in the harmonic series varies in strength –– both at initial onset and during the evolution of the sound, the ratios of the overtones to each other do not vary from the pure integer relationship of 1 to 2 to 3 etc. This is truth-in-sound.

In fact, this truth-in-sound is so important musicians and acousticians have given names to many of these numeric relationships. Two strings tuned to the same pitch have a numeric ratio of 1:1. This is called “Unison”. The relationship of the first overtone (200 cycles per second in our example above) to the “fundemental” (100 cycles per second in our example above) is 2:1 and this is called the “Octave”. Further, the relationship of the 2nd overtone (300 cycles per second in our example above) to the first overtone (200 cycles per second in our example) is 3:2, a relationship that is called the “Perfect 5th”).

Of course, when the a string is plucked, all overtones are generated simultaneously and heard as one sonic event. The simultaneous expression of overtones as observed by the listener is called “timbre” or “tone color”. The amplitude of the overtones relative to the amplitude of the fundamental pitch is what allows us to discern the pure tone of the flute from the buzzy quality of a saxophone.

But no matter if a tone is produced by a flute, or by a sax, the harmonic series is always present. The tones always arise in the relationship of 1 to 2 to 3 etc. This has always been true and forever shall be true.

So if we want to sharpen our perception of truth, let us spend more time listening to truth to experience what it feels like! I’d like to suggest an easy way you can do this.

Let us use a simple hum of your voice as our guide to truth.

Softly hum a constant note to yourself. The pitch does not matter. Choose a pitch around your normal speaking voice. Simply hum, and sustain the hum for a few seconds. Listen. Allow thoughts to fall away. Listen to this hum.

At first observation, the hum appears to be one sound. But as we’ve seen from our exploration of musical physics above, the hum you have produced is not one sound, it is many sounds. Your hum is many harmonically related sounds all being produced at the same time –– always with the frequency relationship of 1 to 2 to 3 etc. This is truth in sound. 

Hum. Sustain this hum and experience what truth feels like. There is no dogma involved here. There is no conceptual thinking involved. There is the simple and miraculous truth of the arising of the harmonic series in your own voice when you produce a hum.

By way of contrast, find a video clip of your least favorite politician telling a documented lie. They are easy to find. Watch this video clip, let go of thoughts, and just observe your body’s reaction to the lie being told to you.

Return to producing a hum. Notice how the hum of your own voice, with the inherent truth of the harmonic series, feels strikingly different –– calm, at rest, peaceful. True.

This is how we can use sound production and listening to sharpen our recognition of what is true, and what truth feels like.

This is very practical practice. The next time you encounter the cognitive dissonance of the liar  “do not deplore, just ignore”. Take a moment of stillness, gently hum to yourself, feel the truth contained in that hum. Then respond after some time if necessary, but from that place of truth. Notice how different a delayed response from a place of truth feels compared to immediately reacting with anger to the liar and thus feeding a system of lies.

Lies are weakened not by fighting. Lies are dispelled when truth is recognized and lies ignored. Listening to your own humming voice demonstrates this.

Patience

All beginnings are from stillness. A sound arises from no-sound.

In stillness, waiting, we have the opportunity to experience patience. In the stillness, before the arising of form, we see patience is Truth and an aspect of the Way.

Patience should be practiced not only because it is good, ethical behavior to extend patience to our neighbor, but Patience should be practiced because it is of God and is one type of Truth. The recognition of Truth, in this case Patience, is transformative and heals its opposite –– non acceptance, and the emotional states of anger and annoyance that arise from impatience.

Patience is not tolerance, nor delayed gratification, nor restraint, nor kindness. Patience is acknowledgment of both stillness before manifestation, AND the potential for manifestation.

Impatience is suffering. Impatience ignores the true stillness of the moment and attempts an impossible leap into a future that does not, nor will not ever exist. When acting impatiently one not only poisons the present moment but all successive moments directed toward an illusory “future”.

Listening to sound, with intent, heals our impatient ways.

Patience requires acceptance. One can design a personal patience practice in which one chooses a sound that is nearer to being naturally agreeable, and acceptable, than another sound that is not so easily accepted.

Of course, at later stages in the development of your patience practice ANY sound, no matter how strident or dissonant, can be used as for patience contemplation. 

To begin, find some sound object, or object that can produce a sound that is immediately pleasing. Note that we still admit judgement and analysis into our practice period (through finding and choosing based on personal preference). At later stages, no judgment or analysis will arise. But as we are starting at the beginning …

…. allow your judgment, your preference, your analysis, to guide you to a sound object or object that can produce a pleasing sound. One can use the sounds in one’s room, audio recordings of nature or simple sound producing objects. It does not matter, the practice is the same –– once the sound object has been chosen for its easy-to-listen-to qualities, one simply sits with and listens to the sound with intentional attention, now free from evaluative judgment, but with patient awareness.

For example, let us consider the example of a small bowl or bell and its accompanying striker. One need not buy a special Tibetan singing bowl or meditation bell. A common glass or metal kitchen bowl will suffice.

Sit with the bowl and striker such as a pencil (or other nonmetallic striker to make the impact softer and less jarring). Notice the system you have assembled –– a striker (a means of activating the bowl) and the bowl, the sound object of your attention.

Notice the empty space between the striker and the bowl. Notice the potentiality of sound contained in this empty space. When it arises, notice your acceptance of the stillness when both striker and bowl are at rest. This acceptance is patience.

The practice of noticing both stillness, and potentiality (and accepting the current-moment reality of both Truths), is a transformative healing-state experienced as true patience. One could say this is an acceptance of the is-ness of the moment.

After sitting this way for a few moments, notice the rising urge to strike the bowl. This is desire to create (which we will speak of at another time). Allow the urge to strike the bowl to grow. Notice … while desire to strike the bowl and create sound grows, there is no particular time-based goal attached to this desire. Notice the freedom of being able to sit in stillness and observe your little world of potentiality and desire, but not act. Notice the freedom of not being a slave to the thought-concept that you must do a certain thing, at a certain time, in a certain place.

This is a powerful mediation on true Patience. The patience that holds both stillness and potentiality together. Patience free of the type of condescending “bemused tolerance” we too frequently extend to a person whom we have judged to be lesser than ourselves. 

This is patient observation proceeding from stillness. There is another patient observation that proceeds from activity.

Strike the bowl!

Notice the impact of the striker hitting the bowl. Notice how the bowl begins to clang, ring and sustain a tone. Notice how the tone instantly starts to evolve, to waver, to flutter and yes … to fade.

Bring your attention to the moment-to-moment evolution of the sound-form you have created. Notice that when your attention is brought to the evolving sound of the ringing bowl there is no impatience. There is wordless interest. Not “I am impatient for the bowl to stop ringing so I can hit it again”. Not “I am impatient for this exercise to end so that I may go on to my pressing concerns”. Notice how intentional moment-to-moment awareness of the evolving sound-form does not allow the mental construct of time, of “later”, to arise. When the illusion of “later” is dispelled, one is left with true Patience. This is how patience can be practiced from the perspective of action.

Allow the bowl to finish ringing. Observe again the stillness of the striker at rest and the potentiality within it, and within the bowl itself. This is how patience can be practiced from the perspective of stillness.

Patience is beyond “kind forebearance”. Patience is experiencing the Truth that both Stillness and Potentiality are companions. And when Truth is experienced, lies dissolve and “the peace that surpasseth all understanding” is Present. 

Soft Noise

A cleansing breath into stillness and acceptance. Though the desire to be moving through another place and another time is still strong. Oh, to be away from the thumping of my dog as she scratches at an itch or flea that causes the itch.

Practice non judgmental awareness of the present moment“. Easy for you to say Internet mindfulness guru star. Yes, it is difficult sometime. That is why we begin by practicing small acceptances –– the gentle whir of the split heater moving warm air into the room for example. A gentle sound, unobtrusive with no particular tonality, melodic curve or rhythmic variation. A soft “pinkish” noise in between a hiss and a shush.

This sound is easy to accept because it is quiet, smooth and soft with a consistency that becomes unobtrusive. So you can begin practicing non judgmental awareness of the present moment with these soft, nearly unarticulated sounds that are closer to formlessness than they are to form.

Of course there is some form present in the sound of white, pink or brown noise. But the form is largely unshaped. There is the energy and near-random motion of air molecules that do not have the shape of vowels, consonants or musical notes. Nearly formless presence of energy.

Paying attention to soft noise, intentionally, is good training for paying attention to formless stillness, the formless stillness from which arises a constant stream of forms –– a rooster, the rustle of bed sheets and blankets as a sleeping partner moves..

Soft Noise –– an excellent place to begin. What at first passes for “a noise” becomes, with closer attention, far more varied and nuanced as the mind begins to notice the subtle shadings brought on by spectral shifts within the noise.

So contemplation (and more on contemplation another time) of soft noise teaches awareness of stillness and the multitude of potentiality that can arise from stillness.

With time, one can transfer this “listening to nothing in particular” to listening to the empty space between short duration impulse sounds. This gives one portable access to stillness within, through resonating to the stillness observed outside of ourselves. 

The popularity of “noise machines” on Amazon shows us how deeply people yearn for stillness and with stillness, a natural falling into sleep. Hundreds of thousands of noise devices sold with no other purpose than to help mask intrusive noise and provide a background of near-stillness on which the mind can rest.

The breakthrough use of such devices occurs when the listener brings conscious attention to listenening attentively and, while doing so, to know they are listening. This is the use of soft noise listening as a means of awakening consciousness –– being aware of being aware.

Devoid of voice, devoid of the interrogative or exclamatory statements that so often trigger mental states both positive (attraction) and negative (derision or avoidance), the soft noise source is more easily accepted for what it is, rather than being rejected for what it is not.

Soft noise sources can be readily found, and observed with intent. Wind in trees, the broadband “hum” of distant traffic or the city street observed from the distance of the upper floors of a high rise building are all examples of soft noise that can teach us about stillness.

We could call this “soft noise meditation”. The intentional noticing and acceptance of sounds largely free from the modulations of any particular intelligence imparted by their makers.

Soft Noise, with its equal energy per octave, contains a distribution of all audible frequencies produced at the same time. In this way, soft noise resembles the infinite potentiality of pure stillness from which all form arises. Soft noise IS all frequencies … but they are not shaped into particular forms and made to carry the messages of speech, music or audible warnings.

How blessedly calming is it to intentionally observe soft noise, and feel the exclusion of human intent, human thought, human concept. Soft noise is comforting access to stillness itself.

N.O.W. is a Tone Therapy System –– it Heals the Suffering of Separation.

N.O.W. uses special sounds to extend an experience of oneness to its listeners. When viewed by the eyes, or held in the hands, N.O.W. appears to be two separate physical forms. Yet when heard by the ears, N.O.W.’s “New Origin Waveform” tones combine and interplay in the moment, (each moment never the same) to produce a sensation of one, unified experience.

Experiencing unity, in the face of apparent separation (as presented by the eyes and hands) is a transcendent moment, and one that is healing. Transcendence of separation is the ultimate purpose of N.O.W. –– though the benefits separation healing are first noticed as an increase in trust and a lessening of past regret and future anxiety.

N.O.W. extends itself to the listener though several key aspects ––

  • A Harmonic Standard Tuning
  • Just intonated pitch intervals
  • Unison, octave and perfect 5th intervals
  • Low frequency brainwave entrainment signals
  • Embedded Stillness
  • Pure sine wave tones
  • Dual-asynchronous New Origin Waveforms
  • 3 minute life cycle of: formless / form / formlessness

Harmonic Standard Tuning –– N.O.W. is not tuned to “normal” standard of A440 (which has no foundational basis). N.O.W’s. tuning is based on the reality of Oneness, expressed in sound through the naturally-occurring harmonic series of unison, octave and perfect fifth intervals. Proceeding from “1” (by way of Octave transposition) this creates a tuning of C256 and places A at 432 vibrations per second. Tonal sequences tuned to a reference of C256 / A432 have a more relaxed, open, spacious, peaceful quality than the same tonal sequences tuned to A440.

Just intonated pitch intervals –– N.O.W. does not use “equal temperament” tuning as employed in a piano keyboard. Equal temperament is a type of tuning that places most notes of the scale slightly out of tune in order to facilitate modulation from key signature to key signature. Instead, N.O.W. uses “just intonation” –– the exact mathematical ratios of the naturally occurring harmonic series (a “Phythagorian” tuning). Rather than create the slightly out-of-tune experience of equal temperament, just intonation produces a feeling-state of repose, and, most importantly –– Truth.

Unison, Octave and Perfect Fifth intervals –– N.O.W.’s uses a simplified interval set and is not fully chromatic (like a piano keyboard). With its emphasis on Unison, Octave and Perfect Fifth intervals N.O.W. reduces complexity and dissonance and brings an emphasis to Oneness (via the unison interval), infinite replication of Oneness or “consciousness observing itself” (via the octave interval) and “differentiation into form” (as manifested by the Perfect Fifth, the first “differentiated” interval of the harmonic series). Hearing tone sequences based primarily on unison, octave and perfect fifths tends to reinforce the subjective qualities of: Oneness, infinite/eternal extension and subsequent manifestation into a multitude of forms. When the listener hears perfectly tuned intervals of unison, octave and perfect fifth, the listener is experiencing the truth of the harmonic series. This makes N.O.W. a powerful purveyor of Truth in a world beset by lies.

Low Frequency Brainwave Entrainment Signals –– When listening to N.O.W. the user will be aware of a gentle pulsing. The tones continually produce amplitude (volume) variations. These low frequency pulsations occur in frequency ranges that have been shown to be correlated to cognitive states of relaxed, open monitoring meditation and deep relaxation. N.O.W. provides the “driving frequencies” to which the brain sympathetically responds by creating its own Alpha and Theta brainwave activity –– hallmarks of a meditative state.

Embedded Stillness –– N.O.W. co developer Michael Joly’s work has been deeply informed by two highly recognized and important spiritual texts, The Power of NOW by Eckhart Tolle and the Stephen Mitchell translation of the Tao Te Ching by Lau Tzu. The power of these texts arise from their source in what has been called the “Perennial Curriculum” –– knowledge beyond form that resides in the unmanifested formlessness of stillness. The Power of NOW and the Tao Te Ching resonate with readers who’s own personal stillness has awakened to such a degree that a resonant condition exists between their own personal stillness, and the stillness embedded in the classic spiritual works.

The New Origin Waveform tone sequences heard when N.O.W. plays were improvised and performed on analog sine wave generators by Michael Joly while he was in a “no-thought, aware of being aware” state of mind. The tone sequences are a physical manifestation in sound, of relaxed, open awareness free from thought. As such, when the tone sequences are heard by listeners, their own internal stillness recognizes the stillness embedded in the tone sequences and a corresponding awareness of being aware arises in them.

Pure Sine Wave Tones –– N.O.W.s analog pure sine tone generators create sounds of harmonic simplicity so that they can be combined, at random (each and every time N.O.W. is played) without the dissonance that would arise if more harmonically complex tonal material was used (such as produced by a piano). The use of pure sine wave tones was an inspiration that led to another of N.O.W. key elements …

Dual Asynchronous New Origin Waveforms –– Every time N.O.W.’s two, physically separate speakers play, they produce, in combination, a new sonic moment. Each N.O.W. speaker contains a large number of pure sine wave tone sequences. During playback, each N.O.W. speaker operates independently in such a way as to cause a new, spontaneous tone sequence to be automatically composed, in the moment. We like to say that N.O.W. makes the present moment friendly, familiar and novel. Friendly and familiar because the simplicity of pure sine wave tones and limited pitch intervals is similar from day to day, but novel because these simple tonal materials are always being presented as new tonal sequences never before heard. N.O.W. provides a sensation of a new beginning, a new origin, through the uses of pure sine waveforms –– thus New Origin Waveforms, or N.O.W.

3 minute life cycle of: formless / form / formlessness –– When the user starts a N.O.W. session nothing happens, intentionally, for 3 seconds. The N.O.W. session begins with the user’s conscious intention to start N.O.W. by pressing “ON” and further, to listen attentively. The silent gap that follows pressing the “ON” button is a moment in which the listener experiences the stillness of formlessness. This is good time to take an initial cleansing or centering breath and just be aware of formless stillness. After 3 seconds the New Original Waveform tones start to play and continuously evolve from moment to moment throughout their 3 minute duration. At the end of the N.O.W. 3 minute session, a gradual fade into nothingness is heard again. This is a rather remarkable moment. The listener, who previously was focused on listening to the tones is now left in a state of “being aware of being aware”. The listener has transcended using N.O.W. as a present-moment focusing aid to simply allowing their own consciousness to be aware of the totality of the observable world around them. We like to say this is a “portable experience” –– the N.O.W. user can get up, move through their day and remember to “be aware of being aware” more frequently as a result of the “instruction” provided by N.O.W.

Stress, and the Illusion of Not Enough Time

Intentional listening can open a path to truth and dispel illusions.

Let us consider the challenge of “stress”. Stress is experienced in a variety of forms –– a sense there is too much to do and not enough time in which to do it is a common form. Stress is experienced when one is in one place, required to do a particular thing now, but wishes to be somewhere else doing another thing.

We could say stress is brought on by the illusion of not enough time. Perhaps it is our perception that leads us to believe this. Because in fact, there is only exactly enough “time” ever available to us. Contemplative listening shows us this is true.

When a drum is struck or a string is plucked, sound arises in that moment. The actions of the hand –– striking or plucking, do not produce sound some time in the future. These actions cause, what is perceived to be, an immediate result. Well …

… in fact, there is the moment to moment development of continuous air pressure disturbance that occurs from one “microsecond” to the next as the sound of the plucked string arises, is sustained, and then fades away.

But the development of any sound, from initial impulse through final fade into inaudibility, only occurs in the present moment. This is truth.

Consider the absurdity of plucking a string but not hearing the pluck until some time in the future. If such an occurrence was observed it would be felt as falsehood and dismissed out of hand immediately as a dream or conjuror’s trick. Think of the experience of watching a video where the sound of the voice and the movements of the mouth are not synchronized. Disconcerting. A falsehood.

This shows us the only true time is now. Permutation of form arising from formlessness proceeds from one present moment to the next.

Contemplating the truth of the plucked sound is a portal to peace and an antidote to stress. One could carry a rubber band in one’s pocket and when the illusion of “not enough time” arises (and with it the body sensations of stress) simply stretch the rubber band between thumb and fore finger and pluck it with the other hand.

Notice the sound arises (and vibration is felt) in the moment in which the string is plucked. Hear and feel the simple truth of this reality. Experiencing the truth of “time” in this way is a simple but powerful antidote to the misperception that somehow there is not enough “time”. While plucking the rubber band contemplate the unreality of plucking now, but hearing later.

Extend this practice of present moment listening-awareness to listening to others while in conversation. The results are quite remarkable. Often, “listening” to another is more about anxiously wanting to be able to speak again and drive one’s point forward. We see this in the rude habit of “speaking over” another while they have the floor and are presently speaking. This is not listening to another, now, in the moment. This is acting on the urge to inhabit a future time when ones own voice can be heard again.

What might occur if one was to give one’s full attention to the person speaking to you? We can say for certain your neighbor would feel more “heard” and would relax from the struggle of trying to reach the “you” that is not truly present because your mind is really future-focused.

Only moment to moment presence while conversing can establish a ground of true communication. And through instantaneous communion (in the glint of the eye) truth is experienced –– free from the “time based” challenge and falsehoods that arise through dualistic language that proceeds from one word symbol to the next, meaning only communicated (and imperfectly so) after a string of noun and verb concepts have been laid out and assembled by the listener.

Listen each and every moment when you are in conversation. Do not try to inhabit the future moment when you can speak again. Listen to your conversation partner as their voice forms the sounds of their speech –– each and every moment a new evolution and development of sound. You will be giving up nothing but gaining everything …

… Your mind will still integrate the nouns, verbs and adjectives spoken by your neighbor. You will still “catch their drift” and reassemble their spoken words into sentences with meaning. But by focusing, with intent, on the moment to moment truth of vocal sounds arising and falling away, by becoming aware of the gaps between words, one can place oneself in the only moment that has ever existed and will ever exist, the Now.

And when you do this, you heal the wound of “time” that separates one from one’s true self and from one another. You heal the illusion of “not enough time” that leads to stress and anxiety.