They were singing, was I deep listening?

 April 4, 2016

By  Daniel Barber

Think just a minute on the last time you had one of those “nature moments.” It might have been literally outside, or it could have been in complete quiet, but your mind stopped whirring for a few delicious moments.

You allowed your own nature as a physical, sentient being to come to the forefront of your awareness, you engaged in deep listening and you gave yourself the gift of a different quality of experience.

A little while ago, I came out on the deck to take advantage of this sunny warm morning and started into The New Rules on Marketing and PR by David Meerman Scott, on how the web is rewriting all the rules and changing the landscape of communications between people interested in all sorts of transactions.

I see the current state of the web, overall, as a massive developmental stage in the manifestation of the global brain, making possible information dissemination of the sort few could have imagined just a few decades ago.

This book is going into the various ways that this is facilitating more direct communication between parties involved in various kinds of energetic exchanges. Somehow this manages to appeal to the traditionalist, the revolutionary -and- the evolutionary in me.

These days I’m exploring ways to plug in to this burgeoning nervous system to share my perspectives on sound, music, creativity, communication, self-awareness, spirituality, human (and non-human) potential, social and environmental justice & healing, and the fascinating, beautiful and powerful ways in which these are all interrelated.

Of course I was aware, in a way, of the birdsong. Walking outside, the sound of the birds and the breeze in the trees was immediately obvious, but it was more like background; a shift in sensual and aural ambience between inside and outside. It was no big deal, not the focus of my attention, which was more about getting some sun and getting on into the book.

At some point in my reading, the birds broke through and I stopped… and began to actually listen. There was an immediate shift in the way my mind and body experienced the moment, and as I write this I’m continuing to bounce back and forth between this linguistically-oriented activity and the non-verbal experience of deep listening to the natural symphony sounding all around me.

I think this dynamic is one of the most challenging and rewarding dances we are called to in this life; that between taking in and expressing, between accepting and initiating, between allowing and creating.

It seems to me that if we lean too much toward the initiating, creating and expressing, we risk being disconnected with the natural world that I hear calling us for more attentive nurture.

On the other hand, if we lean too much toward taking in, accepting and allowing, we risk squandering the unique and precious gifts that each of us has to offer.

Agonizing as it can be at times, I feel blessed being part of all this. Thanks for reading, and for taking a moment for some deep listening to what's going on right now, on the outside and the inside, and pitch in a thought or two below.

We have plenty of healing work to do, and I’m grateful for our winged allies and all our relations for their call, support, wisdom and song.

Daniel Barber

Clearly, it’s a pivotal time in many ways. As it happens, I've spent most of my life witnessing and working with many smart, large-hearted and wise people as we've applied ourselves to the numerous and persistent challenges facing us. One of my main questions has always been, how do we get from where we are to where we want to be? I've come to think that "how" question is largely unproductive. It leads to an over-susceptibility to paralysis by analysis. A better question is "What do I do now?" That question tends to awaken and direct me toward what I want to see and the way I want to be. It gets me out of my head and plants me in the present. I’m forced to acknowledge reality, take stock of who I am now and then engage doing and non-doing in as much awareness as possible. Sound-making, especially when it comes from deep within the present moment, is a profoundly creative and connective force. My name is Daniel Barber and my spirit name is Two Trees. I’m in the business of living musically and I work primarily with capable and curious people who yearn for that as well. Since 2015 I've been working with individuals and groups using a process I designed called T.A.P. the Flow along with a framework for accessing and nurturing innate creativity called SoundYourSelf. It combines mindful presence with a unique musical improvisation modality that helps people engage their authenticity, realize and liberate their unique offerings, and claim their naturally powerful place in the world. If this page or this site stirs something in you, let’s play!

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  • This is beautifully expressed- thank you for sharing it. I definitely understand the tension between balancing those ways of participating in life ( not sure how else to sum them up ! ) I think that the way that we are bombarded with noise and information and activity ( not that all of that is “bad” but too much of anything is too much ) – it makes it even harder to not rush, to slow down, to listen- really listen – not impossible but harder than maybe it was before society became so overactive and we all developed some form of ADD out of necessity. I don’t know any answers other than for me, turning as much of it as I can- off and just focus ( the best I can which isn’t great ) on one thing, just like you did with the birdsong. I just keep trying. Thanks for giving me the opportunity to think about those things- I hope I was somewhat on topic !


    • Thanks, Karen, I can feel your churning with this as it relates so many aspects of our lives and our relationship with the natural world. I’m noticing, as I write these words, my desire to listen for what might be wanting to be said here, over and against the energies in me that are chomping at the bit to “get busy” on today’s todos! Nurturing a more balanced relationship with this dynamic feels to me more like an “allowing” than a “trying.” It feels healthy to experience the sense that simply being here and breathing is sometimes entirely sufficient. When I allow grace to seep in, slowly distributing droplets of forgiveness, I notice feeling more planted in and present to my body and my self. Then my movements into activity push off from a more stable platform, and I feel more connected to my own nature and to the natural world around me. Fascinating, this living stuff, isn’t it?!? Thanks again for your comments.


      • Daniel- thanks for the reply. I like “allowing” rather than trying- and “being” not always “doing” – and how that’s enough, more often than we allow it to be. I know someone who often said we are human “beings” not human “doings” and I always liked that description- we add that other description ourselves- to the extent that we can leave out the “being” part altogether if we aren’t aware of it. I think that’s where the increasing awareness of mindfulness has grown from- people becoming more and more aware of how much they need something other than this frenzy of “busy”ness we run around in constantly- it seems impossible to slow down and just do one thing at a time. Anyway- I will be more aware of allowing myself to soak in the moments because of your encouragement- you seem to have a very keen awareness of things around and in you- I am jealous ! Thanks again for responding- Take care 🙂


  • If a Black-capped Chickadee asks you to dance, I say, go for it. Same goes for a Ruby-throated Hummingbird, a Hairy Woodpecker, an American Goldfinch, and well, the list is long. If any of them are shy, you ask.


  • I have been struggling with this very thing for years. I am overwhelmed by all the things I need to and want to do, but I know I need to give myself time to take things in, create, and feel connected to the world and my own energy. This has been a worse struggle than ever during this pandemic, as I’ve felt like I should have more time, but I’m getting farther and farther behind rather than ahead. Your YMYW conference and these things here have helped me disconnect for a bit and allow myself time to think at a time I’ve really needed it. I’m hoping I can do your piano course sometime. Unfortunately it just wasn’t possible now. Thank you for the access to these free bits of inspiration — it is helpful to affirm that I need to make time for these things, no matter how overwhelmed I get with life. Getting out to nature is one of the best ways I’ve found to do it.


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