54 | Coming To Your Senses (How To Find Your “Sound”)

We can lose connection with our “sound” if we experience over-empathy, people-pleasing, and an “I’m OK if you’re OK” filter. This can happen if the nervous system learns to perceive danger and safety by taking responsibility for the well-being and reactions of people (and things) it can’t control.

Our creative spirit gets stifled when these patterns settle into our systems. It gets harder to locate our preferences, opinions, and desires. And choices become filtered through their potential social consequences rather than their intrinsic value and importance to us.

Creative spirit has three core elements: sound, noise, and voice.

In this episode of The Gentle Rebel Podcast, we explore the role of sound in each of us and how we can find our way home if we’re out of connection.

What does it mean to have a personal sound? Why does it matter? How does it feel? Where is it? How do we find it? What causes us to lose connection with it?

As thinking, feeling, and consciously self-aware creatures, creative spirit flows through our very beingness. It is the invitation to shift the trajectory from what would have happened without us into what COULD happen with us. It stems from the faintest aromas and grows through the slightest cracks of light.

While voice is how we express ourselves in the world, our sound is how we perceive, sense, and notice the world. Sound is the intuitive, creative instincts that precede the interference and noise that clouds it out.

In this episode, we will consider how to attune to this natural and personal part of our being as humans.

Coming To Our Senses

We often talk about someone coming to their senses when they return to sensible compliance and conformity with how they ought to act, think, and approach things. Sometimes, this is necessary, but often, it’s a way to keep our sound hidden. It keeps our creative spirit squashed and unable to breathe.

Truly coming to our senses is about recognising our first perceptions, noticing what we notice, including what we are drawn towards and away from before the noisy filters kick in. Filters like social pressures, expectations, and cultural injunctions leave us doing, chasing, and valuing things that don’t matter to us and fearing, avoiding, and hiding from the things that do.

If This Isn’t Nice, I Don’t Know What Is

Kurt Vonnegut’s uncle Alex had a saying: “If this isn’t nice, I don’t know what is.” He says, “What Uncle Alex found objectionable about so many human beings is that they would seldom notice when they were happy.”

Happiness is a fleeting encounter with something that catches the sleeve of our attention and brings us into harmony with the moment. The mind isn’t caught up in rumination and worry. It is present, aware, and alive. It can’t be experienced anywhere or anytime other than here and now.

We connect with our sound when we pause to say, “If this isn’t nice, I don’t know what is.”

In her book Anchored, Deb Dana says that “glimmers are all around us, but from a state of protection, they are very hard to find.” For many sensitive souls who have developed deep defensive patterns that seek safety by avoiding threats, it can be challenging to notice glimmers. When our nervous systems are stressed, busy, or numb, we are less attuned to the points of connection around us.

Catching Our Sleeve On Our Sound

In his book Several Short Sentences About Writing, Verlyn Klinkenborg writes:

“Is it possible to practice noticing?
I think so. But I also think it requires a suspension of yearning. And a pause in the desire to be pouring something out of yourself.
Noticing is about letting yourself out into the world,
Rather than siphoning the world into you…
Noticing means thinking with all your senses.
So what is noticing?
A pinpoint of awareness,
The detail that stands out amid all the details.
It’s catching your sleeve on the thorn of the thing you
Notice”

What catches your sleeve?

This is where we find the headwaters of creative spirit. The trickle at the source of the river of creativity that we want to feel flowing through our lives.

Losing Connection With Our Sound

We wonder if we’re allowed to like what we like. There’s communal groupthink that can inform this, where we outsource our tastes to the tastemakers and trendsetters who give us the rules for fitting in. We lose connection with our sound when we run everything we notice through a filter or set of standards that we haven’t decided for ourselves.

Between Stimulus and Response

As Viktor Frankl famously said, there is a space between the stimulus and response where we have the power to choose our path forward. The more space we can bring to that moment, the better we can select the actions, words, and thoughts that reflect the values we want the world to reflect.

However, this space between stimulus and response can also present a challenge when the pull of a prevalent culture is strong, when there are loud judgemental noises in the world around us. It becomes somewhere to question our sound, second-guess the intuitive nudge, and talk ourselves out of doing the right thing.

In this space, our second thoughts convince us that our initial feelings aren’t right. We don’t allow our authentic tastes, preferences, and the things that catch our attention to whisper to us. And when these moments are strung together over a long period, our sound can become so faint that we lose connection with it.

So, How Do We Reconnect With Our Sound?

If this sounds like something you want to explore, I recommend experimenting with a glimmer record.

  • Record the things you notice. Write them down, take photos, or speak them into your phone’s voice memo app—whatever is simplest and easiest for you.
  • Don’t judge or analyse what catches the sleeve of your attention (you don’t need to know why)
  • Notice any resistance you have (no one else will see what you record, so observe any resistance you have when noticing particular things—what does the resistance feel like? Does it carry words? A familiar voice? Judgment?).

In the next part (Noise), we will consider how noise clouds our sound.

The Fireside Program

My One-to-One Fireside coaching program helps you tune into your natural sound, process the world’s noise, and express your unique voice in the best way for you. Learn more here.

2 comments
  1. Thanks Andy for this very thorn catching podcast. I need to become more aware of my surroundings and less aware of what the work expects from me.

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