Recently, at a meditation retreat, they piped in three different sound streams. Meditators were surrounded by two kinds of music and one foreign language radio station while they were encouraged to still their minds. The cacophony blended to a sort of sound landscape for me, with my awareness as the eagle flying above it.

Each day, the maintenance people in my apartment building trundle a large dumpster across the cement garage floor right outside my back door. It’s a long, slow, reverberating thunder. In the past, it has annoyed me. Since the meditation retreat, I’ve been considering it a call to practice awareness.

Last Saturday, at a different meditation retreat (two this month!), I sat near a line of windows looking out on a rainy day. While I practiced “soft gaze,” a leaf fluttered through my peripheral vision outside the window. A moment later, I heard a soft thwup as the leaf landed on the wet sidewalk. Were it not for the silence of the meditation hall, I would not have heard that sound.

It’s gratitude month – the month where I practice the kind promise “I will appreciate blessings” and ask myself how I might become more aware of the gifts in my life.

Across traditions – from temple and chapel bells, to shofar, conch shell and muezzin call, people have used sound to call them into relationship with the divine.

This month, I’ve decided to let sound invite me to pause and reflect: “breathing in, I give thanks for my breath. Breathing out, I celebrate [fill in the blank].”