By Regina Stracqualursi

This coming weekend, Stephanie Loveless, director of the Center for Deep Listening at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, will be giving out “listening prescriptions” at the 2021 O+ Festival, taking place in Kingston, New York.

Deep Listening, a practice pioneered by the late composer Pauline Oliveros, explores the differences between hearing and listening, and focuses on the sounds of daily life, one’s own thoughts, imaginations, and dreams. “Deep Listening involves going below the surface of what is heard, expanding to the whole field of sound while finding focus. This is the way to connect with the acoustic environment, all that inhabits it, and all that there is,” Oliveros said.

Loveless, who is certified in Deep Listening, has gathered various physical, psychological, and collective ailments Kingston community members are facing. During the event, she will provide prescriptions for listening-centered exercises and explorations designed in response to each individual ailment. “These prescriptions will be offered to the general public as creative prompts for personal and collective healing,” she said.

Inspired by the healing nature of Deep Listening practice, as well as the playfulness of Fluxus instruction scores, Loveless offers these “listening prescriptions” as a way to expand our conception of healing to include practices of listening to the self, to others, and to the world around us. “I believe it is crucial — in addition to and not as substitution for needed medical, techno-scientific, and policy-based responses — to nurture community-based creative interventions into the things that ail us, large and small,” said Loveless. “Each listening prescription offers modest individual and collective acts of listening as a healing practice.”

The O+ Festival, a celebration focused on art, music, and wellness, presented a unique opportunity to propose acts of listening as a kind of medicine for our individual and collective well-being. “I am particularly excited to present this concept at such a unique festival, which fuses art, health care, and community in inventive and visionary ways,” said Loveless.