Covid-19 has derailed us all and nobody has been spared or is immune to it anymore. For many, it has been a great inconvenience and for some tragic. Everyone has been affected and in that morbid way, coronavirus has unified us. There is that constant knot of fear as to what the future may bring or even look like. It’s like we have been stopped right in our tracks and can suddenly feel the agony and the hear the sound of the very heartbeat of our Earth and it’s people across the globe.
During these tough times, we have seen the urgency felt by the people to do good and reach out to help. The suffering of humanity tugs at your heart and we all want to act like a balm in some way or the other. This has brought an awareness- that we have only this moment.
Awareness took a new meaning in my life when I accidentally stumbled onto an experience of it. I had read and heard on the topic of awareness and thought I knew it too but now realise that there is a stark difference between knowing it intellectually and actually experiencing it, which I finally did.
A couple of weeks back I suddenly started to become aware of something beautiful. The lockdown had reduced the traffic on the road drastically and hence the other nearby sounds started to come alive. Our home faces a park with lots of trees and greenery but between the park and our home, we have the highway which is constantly buzzing with traffic.
The other day while having my morning cup of coffee I just happened to hear the sounds of birds chirping very clearly. I turned to my husband and asked if he heard the birds distinctly too and he said, “yes, and that is because there is hardly any traffic!” Yes, traffic had really subsided drastically but to my mind, I felt there was something more here. So, I started a little experiment of my own.
Every morning I started to sit out on the terrace with my coffee and with the intent of hearing the birds. For this, I had to become silent internally as well as externally. My whole mind and body would be all geared up trying to hear the different sounds. Much to my amazement I found a a great variety in the sounds. A beautiful symphony infact ! It was all there…the trilling, cheep-cheeping, cooing and so many other sounds!
The only bird sounds I know are made by the parrots, pigeons, crows, mynahs, and the cuckoo. Now here I was hearing a variety of sounds coming from the trees but I could not distinguish the birds from the sounds they made. Most of the birds were invisible as they were camouflaged among the foliage. But, I felt great delight just hearing them. To add to my happiness I spotted some hornbills sitting on the branch of a tree. They surely are noisy birds and chatter a lot.
I was in a way shocked at myself and was wondering as to how I had missed all this and had heard and noticed nothing up until now! I had not paid any attention to the beautiful sounds and sights as I was perhaps engrossed in the internal chatter and on the unwanted. I had just let the noise of the traffic overwhelm me. It is kind of sad to know and realize that unknowingly we all end up missing the magic and let the beauty of life slip away.
I also felt that the moment I started to listen to the chirping of the birds, the other annoying sounds fell away. The sound of the traffic got swept into the background. The more I focused on the sound I wanted to hear, all the other sounds faded in comparison. My mind was so focused on wanting to hear the birds chirping that it did not chatter or misbehave during that period. I was smiling all the time! It was almost like meditating. This would however last for about five to ten minutes, as soon the other sounds would bombard me from everywhere. But, these few minutes made me experience the truth that shifting of focus to something positive and pleasant did indeed make the unwanted drop-off.
I felt really elated on discovering this and so wanted to experience it again and again. Now, wherever I am in the house one part of me is tuned to the cheep-cheep! It is like tuning into a frequency, and this has become like my personal haven in the lap of nature where I frequently visit during the day. My heart fills with joy hearing the beautiful sounds and I remember the famous lines of the poet Wordsworth.
“And then my heart with pleasure fills, And dances with the daffodils.”
Our mind is the master manipulator keeps pulling and pushing us in the direction it wants. So, a determined awareness is required to pull away from all the unwanted stuff and focus on what is pleasant.
This new chapter in my life has also inspired me to take out my Canon camera and start taking pictures with it. All the pictures that I have been taking so far have been on my phone due to which the canon was on a very long hiatus! About time- if only I had clicked the pictures of the hornbills with the canon it would have made a very pretty picture indeed!
While writing this, the lockdown has been lifted and the traffic and their sounds are back but I still find myself hearing the birds and feel myself amongst them. This is an ongoing experiment for me now and I am excited about the possibilities that this may bring.