Archive for March 2nd, 2023

It’s not always bad news…

Wichita, Kansas

Reason #25- Sounds

Like smells, sounds can retrieve memories from long past or emotional times.  A song played long ago at your wedding reception or at a parent’s funeral service, a top-10 hit played on the radio during your high school years or a tune your mom or dad sang to you as a kid can each trigger thoughts of those scenes the moment you hear them.  I’ll be writing more about music in another topic.

Sounds can also be therapeutic.  Sound and music therapy can help with meditation, relaxation and overall wellness. You might remember the “Sounds of Nature” displays at many department or grocery stores.  I used to love to stand at the kiosk and listen to all the samples they offered.  Similar therapies are also being used to combat a variety of ailments, including stress, anxiety, depression, high blood pressure, pain, high cholesterol, heart disease and risk of stroke.  Even the hearing impaired can benefit from certain sound therapies through visual cues and “vibrotactile” feedback (listening to sound and music through vibrations in the body).  After all, sound is a vibration that travels as an acoustic wave through a medium such as a gas, liquid or solid.  It’s the brain that translates the waves to a heard sound.

When I asked people what their favorite sound was, the most popular answers were what you might expect — wind rustling through the trees, bird calls in the forest, babbling brooks and streams, crashing ocean waves and other of nature’s reverberations.  For myself, I would add a few different favorites.  Many of the most awe-inspiring sounds I have experienced have indeed been from nature, such as a deafening clap from an approaching storm, a woodpecker hammering a tree in a forest, the freight-train roar of an approaching earthquake and the buzz of an almost invisible hummingbird zooming by.  One of the more unusual came from deep inside a glacier in Alaska as a crack in the ice boomed thunderously in the bay toward us, 100 yards away.  It reminded me of a frozen lake I was fishing on once as the sunshine began forcing the ice to crack from one shore to the other, only the glacial rumble was many times deeper in tone and more boisterous in force.

Even annoying noises can become part of your personal memory bank and hearing them again can result in pleasant reminiscing, such as the constant repercussion of a construction site you lived near during your first years in a relationship, or the din of a cattle ranch you visited as a child, or even traffic noise outside of your corner office window.  Go to a zoo and the cacophony of calls may send you back to a grade school field trip.  A baby’s cry may remind you of your first born, long before you had your parental act together. 

The simple truth is that sounds can make you smile.  That happiness may come from the pleasantness of the tones, the comfort of the harmonies or the memories they conjure.


As a final note, so to speak, Austrian philosopher Rudolf Steiner astutely observed:  “All of nature begins to whisper its secrets to us through its sounds.  Sounds that were previously incomprehensible to our soul now become the meaningful language of nature.

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