I've been focused on enhancing my reading over the past couple of years (not to as much success as I would like). It's a desire to ensure what I read truly impacts me, to put effort into my reading. Or, as Adler puts it:
And that is why there is all the difference in the world between the demanding and the undemanding reader. The latter asks no questions — and gets no answers.
But of late, I've rediscovered another area this is of great benefit: deep listening.
One recent evening, an evening designated as "free night" where everyone in our family chooses to engage in whatever activity they feel like (rather than a time where we all engage in the same activity together), I chose to simply sit and listen to music. And I came to a realization: it's been far too long since I listened to music without doing anything else at the same time.
When I was in grade school, I was in the band for several years. Our teacher insisted on the importance of daily practice, but he didn't want us only playing our instruments in this time. He frequently encouraged us to participate in active listening. To sit and do nothing my engage our minds in following every ebb and flow, each crescendo and descendo, in a piece of classic orchestral music. When our minds wandered, we were to bring them back to the present and do our best to pick out all the different things happening.
I learned to love this kind of music over time. Brahms, most especially. And so this recent evening, I put on some Brahms, lay on my couch for a good 45 minutes, and just … listened. And it was amazing.
Anyway, I'll be doing more of this. I wish I didn't need to be reminded that focusing on one activity at a time is beneficial to the soul. But there it is…