Dear Net Buddies & Blazers,
It’s natural to feel the influence of previous experiences when we face a similar but new situation. Sometimes this can lead us to make rash judgments or have a negative reaction without a good reason. It can even make us avoid things – or people – we might like because we judge them before giving them a chance.
One example of this is when we decide we dislike a musician or group just because one of their songs is associated with a sad period in our lives. In this instance, we don’t bother listening to their other songs because we won’t let go of the negative feeling from the first experience.
Mindful listening is the act of hearing something new without letting prior experiences interfere. Let’s give it a try:
1) Find a piece of music or sound you haven’t heard before. One way to do this is to turn on a radio and turn the dial until you hear something new catches your ear.
2) Close your eyes and focus only on the sound. Try not to judge it based on its genre, title or artist’s name before it starts. Ignore all labels and preferences, just experience the components of the song as long as it lasts.
3) See if you can focus on different elements of the song: vocals versus instruments, different singers and their ranges, or changes in rhythm or dynamics.
What did you think about the song when it started? What do you think when it ends?
How do you feel when the song ends? Is it different than you did at the beginning of the song?
When do you think it would be useful to actively listen in this way?