Mystical experiences are often reported as being here and now – they can take years of practice and devotion. If we want to be here and now, and do that here and now, (i.e. immediately and without hesitation) we need to empathise with animals, they are the experts.

Sensing The Changes

There are at least two levels of panoramic 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. Being aware of the changes is a very practical way of being 'now'. This idea is developed in The Benefits of Panoramic Sensing.

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 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 requires and stimulates nowness like no other sense.

Listening openly 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, panoramic listening is an active receptive presence, it is pre-emptive listening, always ready and waiting, a second before things happen.

It's the alertness to changes and sudden movements in the immediate environment 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-out 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 inevitably limits a full panoramic awareness; so always take a moment to check for any, especially quiet, or distant surprises.

Meditations frequently practice listening to everything, or listening for something beautiful or silence. These ideas are explored and compared with panoramic listening in The Various Forms of Mindful Listening.

Please continue with Mindfulness of Breathing, Smelling and Tasting

Back to Chapter One : How Animals Practice Mindfulness