We should all be conscious of protecting our hearing. Many people are surprised when I tell them that both psychologically and physically, my father’s enjoyment of life is disrupted more by his loss of hearing than his dementia.

Hearing doesn’t happen exclusively in the ear. Our brains turn the vibrations into electrical impulses that our minds can move around. This is how we can be in a room full of people, but still ‘point’ our listening at whoever is talking in our little group.

A lot of adult hearing loss is often not connected to people’s ears, but rather a lazy sense of focus when we’re listening. We’re passively listening rather than actively listening.

We hear a lot more when we listen closely. As kids we all learned massive numbers of words and grammatical rules, all just by listening carefully. Super carefully. But that’s a lot we learned in only 2-4 years.

As adults we mostly talk to the same people about the same things, and we’re often bad at assimilating new information –especially if it disagrees with our former information. This means our listening is being done using a weak form of autopilot.

As many married couples know, that autopilot might help people avoid most crashes, but without more attention on the controls, autopilot can deliver an unnecessarily bumpy ride. This means that learning to listen well is a great way to help smooth out some of life’s bumps.

Today’s meditation is simple. If we can avoid playlists it will help if we listen to the radio (and to something other than top 40, because variety helps the exercise.) If we watch TV, we should listen very carefully to the qualities of each person’s voice. Same for movies, people in video games.

At work, in person, on the radio, on TV, it doesn’t really matter –we’re just going to stay highly tuned into voices all day long because today our meditation is to listen closely all day to each person’s voice, and then at the end of the day we choose the voice we like best.

It doesn’t really matter which voice we like best. The point of finding one we like most is that it helps us cheat our way into knowing how to listen as an activity. We all do do it, we just tend to have the world ask us to rather than us deciding to.

So let’s listen to everyone. Every gender, every age, every ethnicity, from every subculture or place. And listen for the timbre of their voice, the cadence of their speech, the tonal quality of their delivery and the structure of their communications.

Use whichever (or exclude whichever), elements of a person’s ‘voice’ you choose to include. For some the choice can be as simple as ‘deepest,’ or ‘sexiest.’ Others might include a myriad of components. The point is, find the one that you like best. After that, your explanations of why can make for enjoyable conversation, but the one that feels right is the one we’re looking for.

If you end the day knowing whose voice you liked best, then you will also know that you must have been present for every conversation that day. That is a wonderful show of respect to others, and it also shows a lot of intentional focus on your part. All of you who did that will definitely have grown in your abilities by even trying it seriously, let alone doing it. Congratulations.

I’ll see you here for tomorrow’s Meditation in Gratitude.

peace. s