Noise: A beautiful word to describe so many sounds … air pollution, background music during tv shows, ambiance at restaurants and other public spaces, phones ringing and binging and keyboards clacking in offices. Then there is the noise of our internal lives. You know, our internal dialogue, the nagging thoughts, the aching muscles and tired minds.
Noise, suddenly doesn’t seem like such a beautiful word. In this context, it sounds like just another word for stress to me.
So, how do we find quiet in the noise of the day? It’s not aways easy or possible. But, here are some of my favorite tips:
- Turn off the tv, radio, electronic devices for the time it takes to prepare a meal. Draw your awareness to the sounds of boiling water, sizzling meats (if you eat meat), and the sound of crisp veggies being chopped. Notice the sensations of the work such as the feel of water running over the veggies as you clean them, the feel of heat coming from the stove/oven. Then, you can’t help but notice the smells of the meal you are preparing. Inhale deeply and don’t be surprised if the act of cooking becomes a labor of joy and a new taste of love.
- Drive without the radio on and depending on the weather roll the car windows down. List to all of the street sounds, cars, trucks, motor cycles, horns, people hailing taxis. Then notice how those sounds disappear into the sound of the wind as you pull away from traffic and to the open road. If someone were to ask you to describe the wind, what words would you use? How would you describe the feel of the wind in your hair?
- Try taking a part of your daily run or walk without earbuds in and on. Move in silence as you become aware of the tempo of the feet, the beat of the heart, the rhythm of the breath. Can you feel these things coming into tune with the natural world around you?
- At the office try listening to coworkers in the halls, by the coffee maker, waiting for meetings, nod wisely, laugh appropriately and use words sparingly, succinctly. Set your phone to vibrate and take notes, if at all possible, with pen and paper during meetings. Notice how your quiet softens the noise and chatter. How do you feel in this space of quiet?
Advance practitioner challenge: Try journaling about the sensations and thoughts that come to you in these spaces of quiet. Notice what repeats. Pay close attention to the things that repeat. These things that repeat are the things that quiet is trying to reveal to you.