It seems to me that it isn’t until I seek silence that I find the most noise. Though I’ve never been one to fit in, I have a strong suspicion that others share similarly loud and buzzing lives. After all, the majority of us wake up to noise, whether it be the radio, screaming kids, deafening beeps, clumsy neighbors, anxious pets, or (in my case) a quick little ditty from my cell phone. As I’m currently typing this, our kindhearted maintenance man is incessantly pounding the floor in front of my desk with a hammer. Suffice it to say, I’ve given up on finding silence for a while
Please excuse me if I jump around a little here. As you can imagine, it’s a little challenging to stay focused. Let me get back on track!
Have you ever had one of those drives home where you crank up the radio, hook up your MP3 player, or pop in a CD, and next thing you know, you’re pulling into the driveway? We’ve become so used to outside noise that it nearly puts us in a trance. Honestly, it’s pretty scary to think about. Everyone’s heard about the dangers of driving under the influence, driving while sleep deprived, and texting while driving. Though, how often do you think accidents are caused by people simply not being present? It’s no secret that this has been a ruthless winter, even for Michigan. Let me tell you, if I wouldn’t have been completely aware while commuting between work and home, I wouldn’t have been able to avoid the four potential accidents that threatened me. And this is just in the past week, no joke.
Another tangent again, my apologies.
Where I’m going with this is that we’re so used to continuous sounds around us that when we actually seek silence, it can feel uncomfortable and almost frightening. I used to habitually turn on Netflix the second I walked in the door. From that point until bedtime, you could hear reruns of The Office in nearly every corner of my house (as you can infer, I don’t live in a sprawling mansion…yet 🙂 ). Even if I were in a different room doing laundry, cooking, or doing some other wildly exciting activity, I always had the TV on. So, when the evening came that I decided not to have the TV on unless I intended on actually watching it, I hit the red button on the remote and the pranks between Jim and Dwight evaporated into thin air. I just sat there, staring at the blank screen and feeling completely awkward. My fingers inched back toward the red button, but I decided to allow myself to sink into the silence a little more. A few minutes later, I no longer felt like I was in some foreign dimension. I actually felt lighter and free. Then, I went to the bedroom, lit and candle, and sought to embrace the silence not only in my house but my mind as well. After shifting my butt around on the bed until I crafted a nice, comfy crater, I closed my eyes.
That’s when it hit me: I have to call the insurance company tomorrow. I wonder how my sister’s neurologist appointment went. Did I bring the mail in today? Do I have to pee? Tomorrow’s Wednesday; gotta take out the trash. I can’t believe how my boss treated me today! Maybe I should poison his coffee. What’s that smell? These pants feel tighter on me than they did last week. I think I do have to pee. Do bald men wash their heads with soap or shampoo?
Who would’ve thought that the moment I quieted my surroundings and went within myself, that’s when the real chaos would begin? I could elaborate on my theory that we surround ourselves with so much noise daily as a means to numb our inner conflicts, but I’ll spare you the boredom.
The whole point that I’m trying to drive home is that although noise is nearly impossible to avoid on a daily basis, it is very important to find a moment of silence within every day, if even for a couple of minutes. There’s a reason that the EPA is actually concerned with noise pollution. On their website, it actually states that the effects of noise pollution span further than just hearing loss. Unsurprisingly, excessive noise can contribute to stress-related illnesses, compromised productivity, and high blood pressure.
This helps explain why daily meditation has so many benefits, not just for our spiritual health, but our mental and physical health as well. As you’ll come to find, I’m quite enthusiastic about mediation. Some might call me an advocate, but that seems to give an impression that I’m a sage with several years of practice and enlightenment under my belt. While I’ve dabbled in meditation over the past few years, it wasn’t until this past January that I actually made conscious efforts to make it part of my daily routine. I still struggle with meditating on a daily basis. Sometimes I just can’t seem to find time to still my mind, or when I do, I’m afraid I’ll fall asleep. Though, when it comes down to it, these are merely excuses. My parents always told me, “If something’s really important to you, you make time for it.”
On that note, here’s the artful adventure for today:
-Find three minutes (or more, if you’re super ambitious) of silence with no distractions. This might prove challenging and seem nearly impossible. Though, I strongly believe that with a little creativity, you can create a space of solitude for yourself. You might have to wake up a few minutes before everyone in the house or stay up a little later at night. Maybe you’ll take your lunch or break alone, perhaps in your car or a peaceful picnic table near your work. While it can feel incredibly refreshing to find solitude out in nature, that might prove difficult for some people (especially those who aren’t fans of the snow). I’ve discovered that one of the easiest places to find solitude and serenity is in the shower, assuming you shower alone (if you’re one of those kinky people who shower with their partners, then I guess there’s no serenity to be found for you)!
Wherever and whenever you manage to find the silence, close your eyes, observe your breathing, and attempt to look past the stream of thoughts that might flood your mind. If it helps you still your mind by focusing on something, perhaps recite an empowering affirmation, a meaningful prayer, or a chant. There is an abundance of help out there for those new to meditating that I’d love to share with you. But for now, let’s just keep it simple.
Sending wishes of calm and serenity,