Developing the Habit of Being Quiet

Noise. I just don’t like noise. Quiet – this is why I am always thankful that I work at home. Actually it’s one of the major reasons why I love working at home. I calm myself by simply being quiet. Being quiet can be difficult in our stimulation-filled world. Just think of all the noise that surrounds many of us every moment. I used to wake up every work day to the noise of an alarm clock. This was when I worked at that call center.

Some people turn on the TV in the morning as they prepare for work. And think about this, if we even take the time to eat, do we even have any idea what our food tastes like because we are busy listening to or thinking about other things while we eat? And then we get in our cars, or ride public transportation. We hear the noise of the radio or the music on our headphones. We are surrounded by people constantly talking. Most of us might work with the noise of machines (computers, telephones, copy machines, printers, on and on) and of course people. And then we return home the same way. Instead of being relieved for a little quiet, we can’t stand it and turn on the TV for company and noise again. If we live with other people, we talk to them. This goes on seven days a week! No wonder why we’re exhausted and no wonder why we have no idea what’s going on inside of ourselves.

If you don’t know this yet, noise has been linked to high blood pressure, heart disease, mental health problems, learning disorders, and stress. According to Bruce David, Ph.D., psychologist and author of Monastery Without Walls: Daily Life in the Silence, “When our days are full of TV, radio, and other chatter, noise squeezes out the silence in which to think, reflect, and find meaning in who we are and what we do. When there’s no pause in the input, our heads get filled with the voices and opinions of others—be it parents, friends, or Peter Jennings. In silence, we have the chance to listen for our own voices. We make choices based on what we really want and not on what others expect.”

Plain old silence is a wonderful thing. You can connect with yourself, and with the world around you, in a way you cannot do when you are constantly stimulated. So try it next time you have a choice. When driving, try driving in silence. When you’re riding public transportation, don’t put on your headphones; try instead to focus on the experience of riding the jeep, taxi or the bus. Really look at your surroundings because we usually think that we are looking, but instead we are gazing mindlessly while thinking about heading to the coffee shop to get your caffeine fix.

When you get home at night, leave the TV and the radio off. If you live alone, this may be frightening because you won’t have “company”. If you can get past the withdrawal stage, you will have a chance to really be with yourself. Listen to nature outside. Keep the TV off in the morning too. Enjoy the peace and quiet. Just listen to your thoughts and feelings.

You will find that when you quiet the din around you on a daily basis, you will enjoy quality sounds much more. For instance, you can play beautiful music some evening and really enjoy it. It won’t be lost in the cacophony, the noise. If you happen to live with other people, you can take the time to enjoy the sounds of people you love rather than some mindless chattering on the TV. If you have children, listen to their banter and games. If you have a conversation with someone, you can pay quality attention to that person without the distraction of modern noise-makers like TV and machines. What a gift to someone to know that you are giving them your full attention!

Please don’t go overboard though! It’s just fine to have noise sometimes. It’s just fine to have the TV on sometimes. I myself work with music in the background! With awareness however, you will learn to balance noise with peace and quiet. The goal here is to listen to your inner voice and not just respond to someone else’s ideas. The perfect time to be silent is when you decide you need it.

 

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