This week, try a mindfulness exploration into the natural sounds in the garden. What’s fun about this mindfulness experience is that it will be completely different each time you do it. The natural sounds that occur in the garden vary based on time of day, season and light level, temperature and moisture.
Spend at least 20 minutes sitting silently in your garden, focusing on all of the sounds you hear.
To limit the distractions of man-made noises, try two approaches.
First, select a time of day when neighbors or their landscapers are less likely to be doing busywork in their yards – early morning or dusk in spring and fall, plus the heat of the afternoon in mid-to-late summer.
Second, for non-timed noise such as traffic, try a meditation technique. Simply acknowledge them, then shift your awareness to find other sounds.
Gradually, as you relax, you will become more aware of the natural sounds. If you try this exercise multiple times, you will find your discernment expanding. You’ll be able to quickly tune into familiar sounds, then discover new ones as you begin to hear softer, more random sounds just on the edge of perception.
I agree with the unknown author quoted in the title that growing things are lovely, but I disagree about the silence.
What can you hear? A good starting point is birds and insects.
Listen to the calls of different birds. Can you tell the difference between a male cardinal’s mating song and his alert chirp that warns feathered flyers in the area that a cat is on the prowl? Notice the different in volume when a bird is near or far away. And, come to recognize that a bird’s song can be affected by nearby plants. Both leafy trees and conifers will absorb sound. If a bird is twittering in plain sight, its song may be louder than the bird twittering from the same distance but behind branches.
As you start hearing bird calls, you may want to learn how to match the sound with bird sightings. Two good websites to start are:
Check out the numerous buzzing noises with which insects fill the airwaves. Bees and wasps make even buzzes, while crickets, grasshoppers, katydids and cicadas have chirps and buzzes that go up and down the scale and have rhythmic patterns. Especially as evening darkens in, you can get very caught up in listening to these field insects, I’ll warn you. Once you start, you’ll find it amazing and exciting to distinguish the song of a conehead katydid from a false katydid! Insect sounds can be an immersive world.
Two great sites for insect sounds are:
Songs of insects and
Singing insects from the Entomology Department at the University of Florida