FYI - I'll put an "M" prefix on all meditation journal posts from now on. See the first post for additional details.
Hear Out is one of the options of "The Way of the Physical Senses," which is one of the Five Ways. The premise is simple: listen to physical sounds (as opposed to the voices in your head!).
Most of the Ways involve "noting," which just means a type of active observation, and in this case means noting when sound appears, when it goes away, and when there is silence. I had (possibly?) misread the instructions, because I thought that they said to note every individual sound, but the text just says to note sound in general. In the See Out option, you note everything that you visually focus on, so I wonder if this generalization is a typo.
So, anyway, as I gave it my first try, I started noting every sound. This is a little cumbersome, at least in my house. Bird chips are not continuous, nor are cricket songs, and a whole host of other noises. They are impulses. But I didn't let that bother me. I didn't obsess over every little peep of sound. I mainly focused on listening.
As I had said in the other post, I've done some of these methods before. I mean, listening? Who hasn't listened? And I've listened intently too, straining to hear every slight sound to fully immerse myself in the experience.
This is different.
I opted for a half hour session. Focusing on what you can hear for half an hour is... interesting for sure. I started on my porch, but moved inside when my neighbor started mowing.
I heard birds calling out, and being answered in the distance. I hear birds all the time, and love their melodies, but it's rare, for me anyway, to observe other birds answering their calls.
When I moved inside, it was much harder to hear the birds, but I still did. And the mower. And the humming patterns of the air conditioner and dehumidifier fans.
I could hear my breath. I could hear my heartbeat. I could hear myself blink.
When you focus on hearing, you definitely gain an acuity for it. All of that stuff that your brain hears but processes as unimportant before you even realize it... all of that becomes audible.
Even now, an hour after my session, I still sense that I am hearing more that usual, but I could just be fooling myself.
One other curious thing happened. I sat inside a bedroom in my house and just stared at the wall near the base board while I was having my Hear Out session. I don't know if it was the continuous, repetitive stimuli or the result of focusing on a different sense, or both, but my vision faded away a bit. Details became less and less defined. At one point, the colors briefly faded out, and I just had a semi-blurred gray-scale image I was seeing.
So, overall, it was a pretty interesting experience, and I am looking forward to the next session.