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 4: Release, digital (in three parts)

a. This meditation requires that you sit, open eyed, in front of your computer. Sit in a comfortable posture, and begin to pay attention to your breaths. Casually, breathe in deeply through your nostrils. Casually, exhale deeply through your mouth. Allow each exhalation to gently hold a soft smile. Open up the application or drive on which you store music. Slowly scroll through the music that you have saved, with consideration only for volume of files. As you scroll, continue to casually breathe deeply, and with each exhalation give thanks for what you have been entrusted with on this earth. Give thanks for the time in which we are alive, in which we can amass such personal libraries. As you scroll, give thanks for the immateriality of files; and give thanks to the earth, which provides the energy for such storage, which provides the minerals and metals for your device, and which provides the final resting place for what is here. When you’ve at last scrolled to the bottom, sit for several minutes in stillness, open eyed. Allow thoughts to pass through your mind without judgment, but let them gently scatter with each exhalation.

b. This meditation should take place after the above meditation, but not immediately. It also requires that you sit, open eyed, in front of your computer. Sit in a comfortable posture, and begin, again, to pay attention to your breaths. Casually, breathe in deeply through your nostrils. Casually, exhale deeply through your mouth. Allow each exhalation to gently hold a soft smile. Open up the application or drive on which you store music. With each inhalation, consider the gift of breathing in. Consider that, now, there is enough oxygen to breathe. Consider the ways in which we are gifted, moment by moment, with what we need. We exist in a network of unthought and exuberant perpetual giving every time that we breathe. With each exhalation, consider the gift of breathing out. Consider that, now, our bodies regulate themselves. Consider the ways in which we are gifted, moment by moment, by what we give. We exist in a network of unthought and exuberant perpetual giving every time that we breathe. Allow thoughts to pass through your mind without judgment, but let them gently scatter with each exhalation.

c. This meditation should take place after the above meditation, but not immediately. It also requires that you sit, open eyed, in front of your computer. Sit in a comfortable posture, and begin, again, to pay attention to your breaths. For several minutes, with each inhalation, chant “gift” in your mind. For several minutes, with each exhalation, chant “thank you” in your mind and allow a soft smile to form gently. Like our lives, the gifts that we give and that we receive are transient. Our bodies will one day no longer inhale or exhale, except perhaps in their most unconscious and mechanical decomposing states. Our pleasure in accepting the inherent giftedness of living ought to be far greater than the pleasure we experience in consuming and collecting, but this is not often the case. The earth depends on our resources as much as we depend on the earth’s, but this relationship has been imbalanced for far too long. Even our digital archives take resources without giving anything back. Open up the application or drive on which you store music. Proceed, incrementally, with deliberate slowness. With each inhalation and exhalation, examine the file or folder before you. With each inhalation, chant “gift.” With each exhalation, chant “thank you.” With deep thankfulness, consider the file or folder. Let recollections and associations pass by without judgment, but with each breath gently usher your thoughts back to the present moment. Ask yourself: is there life to be be lived in this file or folder? If so, move on to the next. If not, ask yourself: am I holding on to what has already passed, like a breath long gone? If so, delete the object. You may stop at any time. You may skip objects at any time, for any reason, after any answer. The goal is not purification by subtraction, but is simply the easing of a burden. What is enough? Chant “gift” with each inhalation and “thank you” with each exhalation.

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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