Nature in all of its beauty, reflection, and danger is my greatest teacher. I lived with it every day as a child, and then grew up to explore it deeply through walking in remote and wild places in Australia and other parts of the world. Sometimes I forget about it’s benefits to my life, and this usually happens when I forget about my own life and get caught up in the busy life of computers and information, and of rushing here and there, all the time.
Every few months I pull out of the city and I go off the grid. I have a place to retreat to where nature abounds for miles, and there are no devices. The air is clean, and the company of wildlife is divine.
On my last visit, I took myself outside at around 7.30am. Here is my journal excerpt was written as I experienced the morning.
“Out the back of my cabin where I sit at a bush table is a forest where a variety of native birds live and travel through. The sun is just poking its head over the top of the trees, and as I sit to listen to the sounds, the morning is alive with a symphony of birdcalls. The sounds are so clear and layered; it is quite extraordinary. I feel part of it all. Now I realise, this small insignificant location is a natural amphitheater and I can hear very clearly the calls for about a kilometer in radius. I am not going to watch them, instead just to listen to their calls. I don’t understand them or know all the birds by sound, I just want to tune into them and be a silent part of their natural orchestra.
The amphitheater effect seems to be growing louder and as I tune in more. I can hear more and more calls, soft and loud. I can hear each bird’s call. There is the first dominance of a yellow-tailed black Cockatoo in the distance, calling to its mate. It makes a loud and unmistakable screeching sound. These cockatoos remind me that I am in the high country and that this is their country.
Then I hear the smaller birds. One with a soft shrill, many others tweeting together. Then a lone Kookaburra is giving its last morning call. I hear the song masters; a Pied Butcher Bird. Its song is echoing behind me at the edge of my hearing limit. It is a beautiful conversation. Of course, the Magpies are here too. The forest is alive with squawks, trills, buzzes, polite whistles, and now a blowfly.
The sun is up and burning bright, and my teacup is empty. I feel spacy, and tuned in to the frequency of nature. This is a real and visceral thing. My hearing is alive and so am I. I start thinking about my day. I have long grass to mow, as I have not been here for some time. It is autumn and the grass is tall with loads of seed. As I leave the edge of the forest to find the mower, a Kookaburra signs off with half a call. The forest is quietening now, but still, the small local birds are calling. The sky is blue and now I can hear the wind over and above the last few birds.”
This much I know about listening to bird sounds. It helps to improve your hearing, and also to help any decline in hearing. The reason for this is that bird calls are all different frequencies and the ear has to actively engage to hear those different frequencies. The more we listen to birds the more we activate the muscle of listening to varied sounds and frequencies. This is good for us.
Listening to birds is also one of the most enjoyable things we can do. Birds are alive, and to be found everywhere. They are around our homes, in the streets, in cities and all over the world. Magic.
My top tip for listening to birds
Tell yourself before you go to sleep that you want to wake to the sounds of birds, and then when you start to wake just listen to them. You will become involved in distinct and earthy, natural sounds instead of car noises and trucks or barking dogs.
Silence is not something we experience very often. Here is another entry from my cabin.
“I am miles from phones, power, roads, cars, and people. It has taken me two nights to unwind, stop thinking about the dangers – snakes, ticks, and things that make strange noises in the night.
Each night when I lay in my bed the silence is deafening. I am so used to the sounds of cars, machinery working on roads in the distance, airplanes, and dogs barking. Cities are never really quiet, not like the bush. With the silence here, I can hear my own heartbeat and the sounds that my body makes. It is a kind of faint tonal buzzing inside my head, and there is a throbbing of my heart beating in my head.
I lie in darkness and I hear the cycle of my fridge. The first night here I was actually scared of being here alone. I locked the doors of the cabin when I went to sleep, and I lay awake feeling strange and uncomfortable with the feeling of aloneness.”
The next morning comes and I realise some important truths, which make me feel grateful:
“I realise that I am unfamiliar with the sound of silence. This tells me it is time to spend more time in silence. I could stop talking so much for a start, and listen to sounds and people more. This is very calming and grounding and is a technique used in mindfulness practice.
I forgot to mention that early this morning, at around 7 am the last few kangaroos, heard me stir, get up to go to the loo, and then they took off into the forest. It is wonderful to share this space with them. They are wary of me and I like that they are like this. I have always said they own this place, not me. I am just a visitor into their midst, and I notice that as I relax and release the busyness and city vibes from my mind, I become clearer and sharper, inspired, awake, and motivated.”
- Listen to birds more for the beauty of their voice, and for the practice of honing your hearing.
- Get more silence in your life. Silence has the power to tell you how little you have to just be in silence. It tells how over-stimulated you have become.
- Every now and then leave device land and get off the grid to be in nature. You will become inspired, awake and much clearer for it.