2010s: Exercises in Listening Seven meditations to facilitate contemporary listening

"New Horizon" by ƝƖƇƠ ƬƖMΣ ™

We are celebrating the end of the decade through lists, essays, and mixes. Join us as we explore the music that helped define the decade for us. More from this series


Meditation 3: Gratitude

This meditation requires that you listen to music aloud, without headphones, so that noises in the background remain unimpeded. Put on any sequence of songs. Find somewhere to sit or lie down that is comfortable. Adjust the light, if possible, to diminish the definition of the objects around you. Press play and close your eyes. Whatever your posture, begin inhaling deeply through your nostrils and then exhale slowly through your mouth. Allow the exhalation to gently form a soft smile. If there is any other tension in your face, allow it, too, to relax into a soft smile. Allow this smile to settle as you relax. As you breathe, the music will begin to present itself to you. As you begin to notice the music, listen without judgment. If thoughts or associations arise, allow your exhalations to settle them. With each inhalation, breathe in a new aspect of the music’s presence:

begin with the sounds, themselves; with each exhalation, thank the sounds
then, the musicians; with each exhalation, thank the musicians
then, the technologies that allow for production and consumption of the music; with each exhalation, thank the technologies and its laborers (especially those who suffer)
then, the energy that allows you to listen to recorded music aloud; with each exhalation, thank the earth and its laborers (especially those who suffer)

In truth, this chain of gratitude is itself like a breath. You may ascend it even further than this (consider even greater “chains of production”), and you may descend it even further than this (consider the particles of sound themselves, or the unique acoustics in which you’re hearing, the shape of home). As you breathe and thank, allow, without judgment, domestic sounds to show themselves and pass away. With each exhalation, thank these interruptions, too. As the sequence ends and the meditation closes, continue to keep your eyes shut, continue to breathe and to thank. Allow yourself, at last, to hear how the materiality of the song and the world intertwine.

We are celebrating the end of the decade through lists, essays, and mixes. Join us as we explore the music that helped define the decade for us. More from this series


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