The people who make Lexus cars are meticulous in their attention to detail and this includes developing and improving the sounds that Lexus cars make. Even the sound of a door closing is optimised to have the most pleasing sound. It is well-known that sounds can influence our mental wellbeing and can improve and encourage a positive mood. With this in mind, Lexus has produced a range of music tracks to aid mindfulness practice while in or out of the car.
Instead of using musical instruments, the tracks consist entirely of carefully crafted sounds from a variety of Lexus cars that were recorded in a studio and then mixed. Seatbelt clicks, tailgate warning bells and adjustable seat motors are among the sounds that take the place of drums, cymbals, percussion and keyboards to make up the tracks, which can be downloaded for free from Spotify.
Christoph Spiessens is a certified mindfulness teacher and a learning and development professional and coach who has been helping people cultivate calm and confidence with meditation and workshops for more than 15 years. He has been working with Lexus on projects for several years and provided guidance on how the music can help promote mindfulness.
He explains: “Music has the power to stimulate emotions, affect blood pressure and heart rate and improve mental alertness. Mindfulness practice helps us become aware of our immediate reactions and judgements, and this increased awareness creates a helpful pause; a space from which we can choose to respond instead of react. The Lexus mindfulness tracks, through a huge array of interesting sound effects and melodies, provide the opportunity to notice our initial reactivity to these intriguing soundscapes as well as the tendency of our mind to label these sounds or be carried away by the music. These extraordinary compositions offer a refreshing way to befriend our minds and thus enhance our wellbeing. They can be used while driving, to practise ‘mindful listening,’ but of course they should not be used for mindfulness meditation when at the wheel.
“A beautiful foundational attitude from the world of mindfulness is called a ’Beginner’s Mind‘ (“shoshin” in Japanese, from Zen Buddhism),” says Spiessens. “By bringing a beginner’s mind to the experience of listening to any of these tracks, we make a conscious choice to listen with an open and curious attitude, making a commitment to approach our experience as if we are hearing these sounds for the first time, with full awareness of our preconceptions which will undoubtedly crop up. This enables us to discover new things and become aware of the reactivity of our minds.
- Notice what mood or frame of mind you are in right now?’ This is about music as a vehicle for self-awareness.
- Notice your eagerness to play a track. The mind is always making predications, it wants to know. Think about your breathing for a few moments. Mindfulness is, in a way, “heartfulness,” (‘Nen’ is Mindfulness in Japanese and teaches us to ‘stay in the moment’) and means establishing a connection between mind and body.
- When the music starts, notice the mind’s reactivity. Can you “be” with the raw experience of these interesting sounds; the sensory qualities, such as pitch, loudness? How about your emotions, do they change during the track? Are you able to keep focused on the music or does your mind wander? All these questions are at the very core of mindfulness practice: non-judgemental noticing and present-moment awareness.