Healing Yourself Holistically

Photo by Michael Competielle

Today we set the clocks back for daylight savings and therefore we have an extra hour today. I’ve been working on creative writing projects and then I’m going to head outdoors. To embrace nature and connect with the world.

Fall is the time of year where the leaves are changing as we prepare for winter. The stunning hues of golds, reds, yellows, and oranges paint a picturesque vision into my soul. Taking time to embrace nature and what she has to offer.

The Essence of Time

I’m planning to manage my day wisely. One extra hour is hardly enough to achieve all of my goals. Mentally I prepare for the day by listing the tasks in sequential order based on importance. Eating well is of primary importance and so, therefore, may sure to have a hearty, healthy breakfast. Morning coffee is my fuel that plugs in my engine to move forward.

Creative writing is sort of like journaling. I may not go really really deep essentially because I fear what I may unearth. I’m taking the higher ground by pushing aside the past and disregarding being superfluous. My writing takes on a breath of its own as I’m mapping my daily thoughts.

My connection to my daily feeling and emotions allows me to check in on myself and verify if I’m going off the rails. Monitoring myself and being in touch with my priorities makes the remainder of the day’s events purposeful. I don’t spend much time on wasted motion.

Fuel Your Life

Good food for fuel and mental clarity prepares me for the unknown. I’ve recognized my triggers and attempt to distance myself from the offensive. The daily news, gossip, and shitty people that I previously allowed to taint my mood I’ve removed from my life.

No longer do I waste a precious moment dragged into the false narrative of the shallow and disconcerting. My time is exactly that, my time. Not to be abused or taken for granted by anyone. Where I thought I’d become more isolated, my time spent with those that honor the passage of time has become life-changing.

Mindfully Reclaiming My Life

I’ve realized that no matter what it is I’m doing it needs to be for me. I needed to become 100 percent selfish to put out the best version of myself. Instead of retracing the countless hours, days, months and years I wasted in a fetal attempt to please the dissatisfied, I moved on. No longer do I do anything for anyone unless I place myself first.

How can I be empathetic and mindful if I don’t place everyone else first? How the hell can you be completely engaged and present if you are there for yourself? We need to please ourselves before our masters.

Daily I embrace the inner workings of my mind and soul. I question my thoughts and nurture my growth to feel fulfilled. Selfishness achieves the ability to become present within the moment. Our internal demons are managed and life’s external forces we can keep in check. It is then when we can be at our best. Present at ease and adrift in the moment.

Photo by Michael Competielle

Ride Mother Natures Wave

I used to get infuriated at a contractor that worked for me. We would have work scheduled and he was a no show. I’d call him and his boss yelling and complaining and ruining my own Zen. And when I found out where the guy was I’d be angry for hours.

He would go surfing!!! I would be blowing a gasket as he would walk in a few hours late with this huge smile. He would eventually get to work and complete his tasks with a huge smile. Why? He was complete. He couldn’t change the weather but he could carve out the time to enjoy the moments when the waves were perfect.

Today is seasonably warmish. The temperature and precipitation is certainly out of my control. Now more than ever I’ve realized I need to drop what I’m doing to take the time to embrace this exact moment and ride the wave. The work and life’s priorities will still be there once I return. But this perfect day or those perfect waves. They may not.

Embrace the day, enjoy your extra hours and fuel your soul.

Listening to Life… A Soundwalk

Photo by Michael Competielle

Buzzkill

Weekend mornings are a time for extended rest, free from the burdens of weekday life. Our dream sequences allowing us to transcend reality for just a few minutes more. Composed and at ease, we calmly rest.

And then the lawnmowers start, 2 cycle weed-eaters and leaf blowers wreak havoc on my silent lucidity. Environmental noise pollution poisoning my mood and making my heart beat a bit faster.

Certainly, the suburban lawn is one of the least ecologically friendly environments, a biological wasteland. I’ll ask myself how with all good conscience can I partake in helping destroy our environment willingly?

Natures Classroom

Earlier this year my wife and I took a soundwalk through The Watershed Institute, a 1,000-acre watershed reserve. The Watershed staff consists of water and land stewards working to protect our local waters and wildlife habitat.

Photo by Michael Competielle

Armed with my backpack full of field recording gear we headed into the visitors center. Kiosks explained the history of the mission of the Institute. We learned about the impact of water runoff from manicured landscaped yards. The harmful use of herbicides and pesticides and their impact on our waterways. The Watershed recognizes itself as responsible to maintain the ecology of the local landscape and teaches those practices.

As we walked outside feeling informed yet still exploratory, I read on a sign about the Institutes rain gardens that collected the building’s water runoff and how native plants are used in its construction.

Native plants have adapted themselves naturally to survive well in local environments and create a biologically stable habitat for bugs, birds, and bees. Pesticides, herbicides and added fertilizers aren’t required for native plantings to thrive.

The Trail

Putting on my headphones and holding my microphones we began heading down a wooden boardwalk that’s slightly elevated from the boggy land below I could feel the sense of life in the foliage and ground. Frogs, crickets, and bugs were immediately apparent as we headed deeper into the woods.

A smell of rotten eggs wafted towards our noses, evident that this site is biologically diverse.

The raised boardwalk ended and we found ourselves navigated a muddy terrain as we headed deeper into the watershed. Stopping every few hundred feet to observe the sounds of the remote preserve. It didn’t take a highly trained ear to hear the disturbances from near distance noise pollution.

I could hear the sound of a lawnmower trimming some local fields and a distant sound of small aircraft inflight from a local airstrip. I stopped recording as I was saddened how my excursion which felt remote was not far enough away from manmade noise.

I began to think about the animals when they are awakened from their dreams. Forced into fight or flight in an environment they call their home. None essential human-made noises that could easily be avoided if we respected the Earth and nurtured our environment.

It was on that day I learned about the environmental impacts of humans and the ecological effects of manmade noise. It was on that day I began my quest to become… An Audio Ecologist.

Taking Pause During the Passage of Time

Photo by Michael Competielle

The season is changing, maybe a bit more gradually than in past seasons however it’s still inevitably happening. The days are getting noticeably shorter as the temperature doesn’t rise quite as it has. The trees are shifting color into lovely autumn hues. The slow conversion into winters hibernation.

The sounds of the winds change as the whistling through green leaves is replaced with a distinctive different tone of rustling through autumn foliage. Footsteps crunching sounds alarm wildlife as we head into the forest.

Large flocks of birds flutter across the grey sky in a pattern like a squadron of jet fighters. Squirrels nesting away their winters stock of acorns cleaning the forest floor. Deer cautiously drinking from the cooling streams.

As we slowly and silently escape into the forest the rules of our trek is not to speak a word. Our objective is to use all of our senses to enter a meditative mindful state while preserving the serenity of the woodlands.

Armed with headphones attached to field recorders, we monitor our surroundings as we attempt a stealthily silence. Man made noise pollutes our recordings as in the far distance we can hear leaf blowers and highway traffic.

Seated comfortably on the ground we become one with the earth. The wind blows and trees branches sway above us like choreographed freestyle dancers. We breathe in deeply and smell the fresh pungent air.

Closing our eyes we fine tune our ears listening to the forests sounds anticipating motions in the trees. As our focused listening moves through the individual sounds we hear the forested orchestrated instrumentation’s. Distant human made sounds become more evident than ever while we now struggle to filter them out.

The forest floor reminiscent of a large hand knitted Persian rug embedded with a seasons worth of dander. We pause time as we find full immersion.

As we leave the forest our concentration is focused and our respect for the environment, our hearing cleansed.

https://medium.com/@mcompetielle/taking-pause-during-the-passage-of-time-9438899b0fb1?source=friends_link&sk=5b5d90f6eb1de0f103bf7bcbac1d8527

The Soul of a Tree is the Secret to Life

Photo by Michael Competielle

A slight breeze blows through the forests upper canopy as the foliage uniformly dances to her breath. The crunch of decaying leaves that have fallen to rejuvenate the earthen soil. The forests ecosystem is home to flora, insects, birds, owls and deer.

Fall is coming and the leaves are changing into vibrant colors like a evening campfire. Birds singing as they fly branch to branch looking for the days meal.

Finding a rock in which I can sit down I quietly reach for the record button as I monitor the forests sounds thru my headphones. Bird song and cool breeze… so peaceful and serene. I begin to slip into a meditative state of Mindfulness as I’m completely immersed in the present moment, the worlds distractions are distant.

Looking at each tree as a unique living being I begin to think about teh miracle of the forests existence. The foliage protecting the habitat below providing a natural cooling effect. Some trees live a beautiful life as they grow in a perfect fertile environment stretching tall to capture the sun rays to synthesize carbon dioxide into oxygen.

I slowly breathe in… hold… and breathe out the rich forest air.

My mind begins to wander as my thoughts focus on our current environmental issues we are creating through deforestation. In the Amazon alone we have lost 17 percent of the forest in the last 50 years. Entire species of animals extinct from the removal of their habitat to make room for developments and farms.

Forest woods are used for furniture, building materials, fuel, paper and packing materials. Trees produce fruits, nuts, rubber and maple syrup that can be extracted without destruction to the tree. Carefully removing a tree from a forest is not an issue as a seedling can be planted in its place and the circle of life continues.

Trees are the ultimate renewable resource while the removal of an entire forest is not.

Simply put, we cannot survive on this planet without forests. In a sense, they breathe for the Earth, absorbing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, and producing the oxygen we require in return. And by storing that carbon, forests help to regulate the global climate, absorbing nearly 40 percent of the fossil-fuel emissions we humans preoduce. Rainforest Alliance

Photo by Jennifer Competielle

Coming from a family of cabinetmakers for generations, I’ve been around wood and woodworking tools my entire life. Cutting and shaping trees into cabinetry, moldings, structures and trinkets. I savor my scraps reusing them as blocking, shims or dunnage until I’m down to the smallest piece I feel comfortable to discard.

Feeling a tree shouldn’t be killed without responsibly using its resources for making sustainable and renewable products.I’ve always tried to get the most use I could out of the woods.

It wasn’t until I happened to visit the wood shop of Master furniture builder George Nakashima that I began to understand that trees have a soul. A unique life form that needs to be recognized and understood.

As I toured the showroom, wood storage and shop I began to realize the philosophy utilized in the creation of Nakashima’s works. Each piece of wood is carefully chosen to determine how it will be shaped and tooled into a new unique existence.

In the true Japanese tradition of Wabi Sabi, the natural characteristics and flaws are accentuated, often where slpits in the wood are locked from further splited with butterfly joints.

Photo by Michael Competielle

I purchased a copy of George’s manifesto The Soul of a Tree: A Master Woodworkers Reflections which I had George’s daughter Mira, who now runs the business carrying on the Nakashima legacy, sign my book.With a deep philosophical understanding that the respectful use of a trees woods gives the tree renewed life and purpose. I learned to honor the trees soul.

When trees mature, it is fair and moral that they are cut for man’s use, as they would soon decay and return to the earth. Trees have a yearning to live again, perhaps to provide the beauty, strength and utility to serve man, even to become and object of great artistic worth.

George Nakashima

https://medium.com/@mcompetielle/the-soul-of-a-tree-is-the-secret-to-life-7aefb63537ff?source=friends_link&sk=e8137b8d17f7e2b35f2b499591a1d5fa

Forest Therapy And My Quest For A Quiet Place

Photo by Michael Competielle

The Japanese practice of Forest Therapy is called Shinrin-Yoku which means “taking in the forests atmosphere.” Quite simply the process is to just head into the forest and that’s about it. Well that’s sort of a generalization of the actual philosophy where you can shed stress and anxiety by spending time with nature by trekking through the woods, engrossing yourself in the silent ecosystem.

Forest Therapy or Forest Bathing is used to embrace nature and to enhance wellness and happiness. Heading into a forest and focusing on being present in the silence while engaging in deep breathing, recognizing smells and sounds can be healthy and therapeutic.


A few years ago as I was researching field recording I stumbled onto a sound course offered through Princeton University called Space and Place. I messaged the Professor to see if I could audit the course although the semester was winding down and his Princeton Arts Fellow nearing an end he was kind enough to share with me the syllabus.

I quickly purchased every book mentioned in the syllabus and proceeded to read every referenced website and article. One particularly interesting piece was on Chris Watson of the 80’s Industrial/Post Punk band Cabaret Voltaire who had since entered into wildlife field recording. Upon reading an articleon his techniques, I realized he and I had similarities in equipment I decided to try some forest field recordings.

As I began to repurpose my film audio-recording equipment and expand my collection of specialty field recording gear with some new purchases I headed off into the woods. Wearing my Kuhl Silencer pants, Merrell hiking boots, Tilley and sound recording gear I headed into the forest. Uncertain of what my expectations actually were and primarily hoping for a clean, noise free forest ambience recording I found a quiet remote location and grabbed a seat on a rock under a dense canopy of trees.

Photo by Michael Competielle

Putting on my headphones and hitting record I silently listened to the sounds of the forest. With a cool summer breeze calmly making the forests vegetation dance like a ballerina and strained to listen for the sound of the forests wildlife. What I heard while focusing was the distant sound of the outside world. Planes, lawnmowers and the distant highway spoiled my recordings.

Calmly I continued to record hoping the noise pollution would stop. The distant persistent noise droned on however as an hour had passed however I was feeling focused, calm and relaxed. The experience, alone in the forest was meditative as I was focused on my environment fully mindful and present.

My recording was essentially trash, ruined by the environmental noise pollution of the suburban forest. I Googled “field recording quiet places” in a feeble attempt to find a quiet place to record nearby my Princeton area home.


“SILENCE IS NOT THE ABSENCE OF SOMETHING,

BUT THE PRESENCE OF EVERYTHING.”

-Gordon Hempton, Founder

One Square Inch of Silence

My research lead me to the Audio Ecologist Gordon Hempton know for his nature recordings on 6 different continents while on an endless quest searching for One Square Inch of Silence.

In 2005 Gordon Hempton while recording in the Hoh Rainforest in Washington’s Olympic National Park, one of the quietest places in the world, he placed a rock on a log claiming it to be One Square Inch of Silence. Hempton defines silence as lacking in human created noise pollution.

For years Hempton has monitored his One Square Inch of Silence often having to inform noise polluters of there noise pollution and writing the offenders letters along with recordings hoping to obtain their support in creating less pollution.

Gordon’s One Square Inch website deeper explains the environmental concerns and educates in an attempt to raise awareness and maintain the silence.

While I have yet to visit Hoh Rainforest or find any location free of noise pollution, my forest therapy continues.

With today being the first day of fall the colorful foliage is about to change. I visualize the sounds of leaves falling and the crunching sound as I walk to a suitable recording spot. Hoping to immerse myself mindfully in the forests serenity.The Startup

https://medium.com/swlh/forest-therapy-and-my-quest-for-a-quiet-place-1c4804eb05f2?source=friends_link&sk=1fe5da5775f23a27e6674dd7bbfb8384