Sometimes as I sit in the early morning, I close my eyes and cast my mind outwards, following the chirps of the crickets, the chitterings of the cardinals, the cries of the hawks. Guided only by sound, I explore the natural world around me. The tones, volumes, directions, and repetitive patterns of the sounds paint a picture in my mind just as if I were watching a portrait painter at work. Pulsing cricket chirpings form the broad canvass on which other sounds are layered. The distant circling cry of the hawk draws swirling, ribbony brushstrokes of sound. The red-bellied woodpecker and the blue jays are bright splashes of paint, dabbed here and there, surprising and attention-grabbing. The loud buzz of a hummingbird approaches and recedes quickly–a bold stroke on the canvass–while the semi-regular wheeze of a scolding squirrel fills in a corner of the tableau with short, choppy strokes of the brush. In a final flourish, the chickadees stipple their calls and chatter across the scene, adding interest and that finishing touch. At that point, I can’t resist; I need to see what’s going on.
Opening my eyes somehow diminishes the power of the sounds at first. Like turning on a bright light in a pitch dark room, the sudden visual brightening momentarily dims the other senses. All the sounds are still there, but now they fight with the visual realm for my attention.Then, after a time, things even out and reach a sort of balance. I think with practice, the quiet and patient observer can take in the sounds, sights, smells, touches, and even tastes of nature without any one sense submitting to or overpowering the others. Each sense will complement and enhance the others, resulting in a powerful and restorative experience. Nature immersion.