Headroom

What is the point of “clearing the mind” — whether it be via meditation, seclusion, practicing a hobby, or any other method?

In audio engineering, there is a concept called headroom, which refers to the amount of audio space a recording, or audio wave, has before it clips or distorts. Each element added to a musical recording, every ingredient, every track of instrumentation, effects and chains — they all add to the recording and eat away at that precious overhead. The skill of good audio engineers and mastering engineers is capturing a fantastic sound and fitting it clearly into the right amount of audio “space” while still maintaining some overhead. They are able to do this through consistent practice, and by paying careful attention to every step of the recording process.

This is similar to what we are preserving when we attempt to clear our heads, relax and maintain good health removed from emotional binds. A while back, I pointed out a literary illustration Doug Wilson, from the Henka blog, used regarding his martial arts experience. When we train, we’re creating space in the mind, in which we can move freely, regardless of our physical position. The less space we have in the mind, the more attached and controlled we are by our everyday surroundings, circumstances, relationships, and emotions.

When we run out of headroom, our perception distorts and it becomes difficult to perceive what is really going on around us and inside our own heads. Not that folks who meditate or whatever else don’t have distorted perceptions — clearly many such people do. But the distortion that builds up from stress creates a serious mess. Better to have only a few distorted clips in the audio file than extended bursts of white noise. Likewise with headroom in the mind — ya keep it from clipping by paying careful attention at every step of its activity.

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One Response to “Headroom”

  1. This was a really really good posting. I’ve been trying to find a balance between my art and exercise and was considering stopping the exercise to focus on my art. I think you are absolutely correct. I always felt like after I ran I was disconnected with emotion. The truth is after I run my mind is clearer, so I can be more objective, and make better decisions. I think I’ll go and take a run. Haven’t felt clear all mofucken day. Thanks bro.

    Ross

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