I am writing from a blanket, that is laid upon the grass beside a babbling brook. The sun is out over here in Ireland and any task that can be is done outdoors.

Plus, I thought that it would be fitting to write from the spot where this week’s challenge was inspired.

Whenever the weather is fine, I like to have my morning coffee outdoors. There is a field behind my house that holds an old lawn chair that sits in a clearing of a small sheltered wood. Yesterday morning I found myself in the chair, coffee in hand, marvelling at all the layers of sound that I was hearing. In front of me was a black bird and its song, above me a crow flew by, in the distance I could hear the lowing of cows and further afield dogs barking.

Now, I am fortunate in that my soundscape yesterday morning was the sounds of nature all around me. However, it got me thinking about all the different soundscapes and how they affect our state of mind. The sounds of birdsong and cattle were bringing a sense of calm to my morning, gratitude found me, I didn’t have to find it. So, I thought it might be interesting to try to see if I could tune in to soundscapes for the day and see if I could detect how and if the sounds in my environment helped determine my mood.

th (7)Later in the day, I found myself having coffee once again- only this time in a busy café surrounded by people. The people at my table were chattering away, and I could feel myself starting to drift off into distraction. I remembered the birds and animals of the morning, so I thought I would turn on my ‘listening ears’, as my kindergarten teacher used to say, and touch in with what was happening all around me.

There were the immediate sounds of friends talking, then a hum of conversation just beyond our table, intersected by the odd piercing scream or laugh of a few small children, the clanking of plates, the mechanics of the coffee machine. Somehow these sounds were not filling my body with ease- or inducing gratitude. Instead, a sort of distracted scanning attention had set in.

My mind immediately wanted to try and rationalise the reason why this was- could it be the crowds? the shrill reverberations of coffee machines and toddlers? the sudden crash of a plate on the floor? I started to go into all sorts of stories of how I wanted to be back in my garden with my coffee.

However, I stopped myself. I simply noticed, touched in with a slight agitation in my body and once again rested my attention with the people who I was with. Actually, the conversation was good. I love being with my friends and there are many times that I long for the bustle of town life. So, even if I had to go looking, I still found gratitude.

Saying that, I was profoundly aware of the differences and effect these contrasting soundscapes have on me.

So , this week’s challenge is to tune into the soundscapes that you find yourself in. See if you can hear the different layers of noise. What’s happening in the body as a response? And maybe ask yourself- can you find gratitude??

Interestingly, I am back having coffee in my garden. My preference system is clearly in high working order!


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