“On this walk, I’ll ask you to change your focus,
to concentrate on what you hear when in nature.”

Sharon Gill

What are the sounds that you hear in a nature preserve?
Perhaps you’re thinking of bird sounds or frogs calling or wind rustling. During this soundwalk, we will tune our ears to really hear the sounds of nature, to help you dig into what you’re hearing to gain a new view – so to speak – of nature preserves. And maybe even a deeper understanding as well.

Soundwalk was created by Sharon Gill, a SWMLC board member and Professor of Biological Sciences at Western Michigan University, (with help from Rachel Steining) as a way to help people find inner balance through deepening their connection to nature in ways that are both new and traditional. 
Sharon has recorded a podcast that leads participants through a series of listening exercises. Participants are encouraged to listen to the podcast for the first set of instructions, walk while listening to the natural sounds around them, then pause to resume the podcast and the next instruction. The entire podcast may take up to 45 minutes to complete but you can easily shorten the exercise to fit your needs (suggestions for shortening are included in the recording).
This Soundwalk may be used at any SWMLC preserve or natural area of your choosing. Participants are encouraged to return to the same place around the same time of day to repeat one or two exercises. Getting to know one’s environment is like getting to know a friend.
Humans are vision-centric beings: we place the greatest importance on the information that passes through our eyes. But as the saying goes, there’s more there than meets the eye, and our sense of hearing has been honed by millennia to help us place ourselves in our environment and to keep us tuned into our surroundings. Sadly, natural sound is often ignored or taken for granted by many people.
Focusing on natural sound not only opens your ears to the world around you, it also helps close your ears to the inner chatter that often fuels negative feelings and behavior. Really listening to the sounds around you helps to keep you in the moment – not dwelling on the past, not planning for the future – but experiencing your real life right now. Truly hearing your environment is one of the most effective ways to ground yourself while also connecting with the world around you.

Click this image to listen to the Soundwalk podcast on SoundCloud.

Click this image for a printable PDF transcript of the Soundwalk.

SWMLC originally posted this exercise during the frightening days of the COVID-19 pandemic – but its deep and gentle message is of timeless value and continues to help people find balance, connection, and inner peace.