I have found myself thinking a lot about moments of the day and the way time feels. Multi-sensory approaches to well-being to nature prescriptions to refreshing living spaces. Outside hours versus inside hours. Green spaces and blue spaces. I am loving ideas around engaging our senses to create calm.
Have you ever heard the 100 Soundscapes of Japan? The Japanes government selected 100 iconic sounds heard in various regions of the country to serve as these official soundscapes, with the intent to combat noise pollution and protect the environment. Some of the soundscapes, like wild geese, may be familiar to North American ears, while others–like drift ice in the Sea of Okhotsk–may be harder to replicate.
What about the sounds that make up your day? Have you ever paused to ponder all you hear in a day? Crying babies, grinding coffee, blaring horns, croaking frogs. The sounds that surround you come in forms both stressful and soothing. And those sounds permeate your ears and influence your inner landscape. So why not try to harness sounds towards a ready mind?
Different sounds inspire different parts of your day. Do you prefer to wake up to sounds of nature, to energizing music, or to news radio? What is the goal of your auditory input each morning? If you’re seeking to start on a mellow note and ward off the stress of the day, then piping nature sounds or classical music through your alarm clock might work. But if you have a hard time getting out of bed in the morning, hitting snooze on repeat and dragging bleary eyes out the door, then more energizing music might serve you better.
How does the soundscape of your work environment influence your productivity? Are the sounds of the office or classroom distracting or inspiring? Is there anything you can do to improve the soundscape of your work day? If you’re in an open office environment, coworker chatter may hinder your ability to concentrate–many office workers find that earbuds playing favorite task music help while others need noise cancelling headphones to increase efficient work habits.
In the classroom, it can be harder to promote soothing soundscapes. After all, a teacher can’t walk around with noise cancelling headphones attached to his or her ears, ignoring the questions of enthusiastic students. Alternating periods of silence with times of chatter, mixed in with music, can promote an intentional soundscape that benefits both teacher and students. Consider integrating a unit on classical music and having students pick their favorite for a custom classical playlist–students will be learning the biographies of famous composers while you integrate beautiful soundscapes–a win, win.
And at night, you’ll want sounds that wind you toward rest instead of amping you up. Nature provides a beautiful symphony come evening, turning up the volume of chirping crickets and buzzing cicadas. If you can break away from household noise, you might even step onto the patio to find quiet enough to hear rustling trees and waving grasses. Of course, all these sounds can be replicated on a nature noise machine–which doesn’t sound quite as lovely as the real thing, but stands as a ready substitute. Other helpful night music choices include soft instrumentals, mellow jazz, or white noise.
If you created a list of your favorite sounds, what would you choose? What sounds in your day increase your tension? Is there a way for you to intentionally choose the soundscapes that fill your day, to substitute pleasant sounds for frustrating ones? Take some time to create your own Soundscapes of My Day list, or Sounds of Summer playlist, and put them into practice–it can be music to your ears.
Please be sure to share which sounds make your list below! And, as always, you can sign up for more additional ideas and tips right in your inbox.