You may spend a lot of time considering the look of your belongings and environments, but have you considered how they sound? During the bulk of your day, are you hearing printers, cars, and barking dogs, or water, music, and birds? Taking a few moments to audit your soundscape can improve your sonic nutrition, just as interior decorating can improve your visual environment.
When I lived in Brooklyn, the trucks below my window were so loud I had to wear earplugs to sleep. Now living in the Hudson Valley, I’m more likely to be woken up by birdsong. The change in soundscape has improved the quality of my sleep at the very least.
Try this exercise in each environment where you spend a significant amount of time each day (workplace, bedroom, kitchen, etc). Close your eyes and just listen for a minute or so.
What do you hear?
Where are the sounds coming from?
Are the sounds low, mid-range, or high pitch?
Are the sounds quiet or loud?
Do you feel the sounds in certain parts of your body?
How do these sounds affect you?
A spectrogram app (like Spectrum Pro and SpectrumView) for your mobile device can help you visually identify sounds in your environment, and pinpoint their frequencies. Seeing the sounds may help you recognize the ones you are too accustomed to notice with just your ears.
You may notice sounds that had previously evaded your conscious attention. Make a list of the sounds, and for each one note how it makes you feel. What could you use more of, and what could you use less of? Once you’ve completed your sonic audit, you can start to make informed changes to your personal soundscape.
How can you change or remove the sound sources the negatively impact you?
How can you increase the sound sources that positively impact you?
How can you take “sonic breaks” and make space for silence?
How can you change the effect of your sonic perceptions through the use of earplugs, noise-canceling headphones, meditation practices, etc?
Solutions could be as simple as moving your hard drive below your desk, or as drastic as moving yourself to the countryside.