Mystical experiences of oneness are reported as being both here and now, and eternal and everywhere. I'm talking about the simple sense of being here and now which every animal has, and we could so easily relearn.

Sensing The Changes

Meditations frequently practice listening to everything, or listening for silence. This essay is about listening for changes. It's the alertness to changes and sudden movements which is vital to animals.

There are at least two levels of
 broadband "Broadband" describes how animals sense their entire local environment, without focusing on any specific part of it.
sensing. One is the direct connection with everything in the local environment, this could be described as being 'here'.

Then, there is a deeper level which involves an awareness of changes and movements in our environment. Changes always happen now, and being aware of the changes is a very practical way of being 'now'. With seeing, this results in a sort of multi-focus on all the random movements happening within the 'big picture'. However, the sensation is easier to experience and explain first by listening.

Listening out

Listening has an immediacy which the other senses don't have, and this is because sounds are sometimes very sudden and over in a split second. Smells and sights usually last at least a few seconds.

Listening to everything is a good first step, but then listen out for specific sounds. Listen actively for quick warning signs, such as bangs, cries, or barks; even quiet sounds, like a twig snapping, are important.

In its most sensitive form, broadband listening is an intense receptive presence, it is pre-emptive listening, always ready and waiting, a second before things happen.

It's the alertness to change which is vital to any animal's survival. And especially these days above the constant hum of machines, it is necessary for animals to listen out.

Listening nearby and into the distance

Imagine how early man might listen out for distant wild boar, buffalo, or horses; or nearby tigers, snakes, or tasty insects. It depends on where you are and what sort of background noises there are, but i often listen out for dogs, pigeons, and children; at night for hedgehogs and owls. I don't often hear them, that's irrelevant, listening out for them is the vital part.

Though listening out for specific signals is a helpful step, focusing on any specific sounds will always limit a full broadband awareness; so always take a moment to check for any, especially quiet, or distant suprises.

These ideas are developed in Chapter Two under The Different ways of Meditative Listening.

Note: Don't be too idealistic – if machines in the environment are annoyingly loud you can try listening over them as animals have to, but i find modern earplugs are essential, and then i listen inside my body .

How to Neutralise the Self-perpetuating Thoughts

To concentrate with the broadband senses, we can't think or do anything at the same time, it's impossible – and impractical, without a pure intensive awareness animals would die.

This is not anything mystical or paradoxical ... it's practical and it's natural. We can't think or want when we're fully alert and on the lookout.

Throughout evolution, this form of awareness, has been the unquestionable and natural way to switch off, stop doing everything and be acutely receptive for a moment. And for animals, this is a constant reminder of how it feels to be here and now.

Listening-out for sudden changes in the immediate environment is the easiest way to stop the continuous chatter in our minds. It interrupts the abstract thinking systems. It's a moment of being and feeling still inside, a moment of simple and direct peace of mind.

Broadband sensing neutralises abstract thinking. This idea is developed in The Values and Benefits of Broadband Sensing.

Please continue with Mindfulness of Breathing, Smelling and Tasting

Back to Chapter One : The Broadband Senses