Longer observation (10): Experiences of the Location of Sounds, An introspective report: The following is a report of observations I made on four nights over a 3 week period.
First Night: I awoke at about 5 AM. We had visitors. I heard a very faint, far away sound of a rooster. I was happy that our visitors would be awakened to the sound of a rooster. It was very faint and not really a complete "cock-a-doodle-do" as I am accustomed to hear. All of a sudden I heard our dog breathing from its bed, and I realized the sound was not a rooster at all but the sound of our dog's breath. I listened to the dog for a moment, and then realized, all of a sudden, that it was not the sound of the dog at all, but the sound of my own breath. This had happened to me before. I had been listening to the sound of a far off animal in the night only to realize it was my own breathing. Now I could hear the sound was coming from my own breath and not the from dog (in front of me) or from outside (to my left). However, as I lay longer and thought about it more and more, I couldn't be a hundred percent sure. It seemed to coming from me, but then, all of a sudden, it would shift and would seem to be coming from outside. I couldn't figure it out for sure, but it all ended with me thinking the sound was outside, possibly a rooster. It was definitely not the dog. It could be my breathing.
Second Night: I awoke, again around 5 AM, and again heard the rooster outside, far away and faintly. This proved to me it was not me. It wouldn't make sense I would make the exact same sound two nights in a row. Also, the fact that I heard it outside again, right off, indicated that this was accurate — first impressions and all that. But straightaway I heard my breathing and what sounded like the same sound. The sound didn't happen regularly, only every thirty seconds or so. It wasn't regular, on an out-breath or on an in-breath. It wasn't like a regular wheeze, but it did seem to be coming from me after all. But then again, all of a sudden, it seemed to be outside. I gave up trying to figure it out, but my impression was that it must be the sound of my breathing.
Night Three: Woke to the exact same sound outside, roughly the same time. But this time, after a second or two, there was no question the sound was from my breathing. I could make it happen by exhaling a little stronger. It seemed there must be some sort of minor blockage and that the sound was the sound of breath going over it, similar to the sound of the wind rustling the trees. Now that I was dead certain the sound came from my breath there was a new location question: "Where in me was the sound coming from? The back of my throat where the nasal passage enters the mouth cavity? More in the nasal part than in the throat part? If so, then in the part closest to the opening or the part down and nearest the throat? It may seem, to the waking mind, that there is little difference here, but, to the mind at rest, early in the morning, there is a big difference. Subjectively there is a huge space between the internal parts of the body, if you are in a certain mood.
Night Four: At about 5:15 AM, after about a week of not thinking about it, heard the rooster crow again. Clearly, no question — outside. Listened for about five minutes. It happened three or four times, but it was very quiet and, after the first one, not at all rooster-like. Could it actually be my breathing? No. The weather was clear, my sinuses were clear. But it probably wasn't a rooster. It wasn't the loud, clear call of a rooster. Maybe it was a dove, but it didn't sound like one. Maybe it was a baby robin. Not sure.
These observations, if they could be repeated by others, suggest to me the same sound is experienced as moving around depending on where the listener believes the sound is originating. Beliefs combine with visual images of how things are, with bodily sensations, and with the sound itself to embed the sound itself in an overall gestalt of space.
Sound tells us what is going on in our body as much as it tells us what is going on in the outer world. The sound of our breaths are particularly prominent when we are in a situation where we can listen to them. We also hear the sounds of our own voices made by manipulating our breaths. But there are other sounds within the body also, each individual one with its own location. There is the sound of our joints, our bones, and our muscles (often heard during a trauma); the sound of our ears popping; and sometimes we can even hear the sound of our own hearts. There is also the sound of the liquids in our bodies. We hear the sounds of digestion in our stomachs and bowels, the sound of saliva when we chew or swallow, and, maybe, on occasions, the sound of the blood in our arteries.
Some sounds in our bodies indicate a danger lying within, just as some sounds coming from outside our bodies indicate dangers outside. A bone breaking, a joint rupturing, a heart pounding, or a gagging reflex are all sounds no one wants to hear. Of course, unlike outside sounds, many inside sounds are accompanied by physical sensations like pain.
As said, we hear our own voices. Can we hear ourselves think? Only when we're thinking out loud, even if only in a whisper. But it is important for this train of thought that thinking, even if completely silent, is experienced as taking place someplace. Apparently the Greeks experienced it in their livers. Moderns tend seem to experience it more as located in their heads, just above the location of the sound of the breath.
Update: about one month later.
There is no longer any question that the sound was a rooster crowing. Walks down the road to where the roosters are are part of what cemented the "diagnosis." Being near them and hearing them crow, there was no longer a question that it was them. Also, in the early, there are a lot more of them crowing all together. And they are crowing longer and more consistently and, it seems, louder. No question now. The sound is "out there," down the road. It has "moved" back outside. Though the source never changed, the experience of it did.