“Noise is never just about sound. It is inseparable from issues of power and powerlessness. It is a violation we can’t control and to which, because of our anatomy, we cannot close ourselves off this a quote from the November issue of the Atlantic, entitled why everything is getting louder.” SO LITUDE
As environmental hazards go, noise gets low billing. There is no Michael Pollan of sound. limiting your noise intake has none of the cachet of going polio or doing a cleanse when the New Yorker recently proposed noise pollution as the next big public health crisis, the internet scuffed pollution pollution is the next big and current public health crisis, chided one commenter noise is treated less as a health risk than an aesthetic nuisance, a cause for people who in between rounds of golf and art openings, fuss over the leaf blowers outside their vacation homes because complaining about noise elicits I roles. Nothing will get you labeled a crank faster.” November, 2019 issue of the Atlantic, entitled Why Everything is Getting Louder
I think that if more of us paid attention, we would notice how this is actually creating a sense of disturbance in our field. As we grow in our own sensitivity as we grow in mindfulness, we simply can’t help but pay attention to all of the things that are going around us. When we undertake a mindfulness practice, we’re quieting everything down on the inside, so that we can notice everything around us.
Is it possible that we can associate the increasing noise level in our society to the spikes in disease and depression and anxiety?
To pretend that the noise level in our society or that just simply noise in general has no effect on us is to underestimate how sensitive our bodies are and how they were meant to work. Our bodies were created in order to pay attention to surroundings. We thrived on being able to hear danger from far away. This has been a survival strategy. Our body is constantly on alert for every buzz, every world, every sound that’s coming at us. We could wear noise cancelling headphones all day long, but I don’t know that that’s exactly the right answer.
There is some truth here to the analogy of the frog in boiling water.
We’re just slowly getting used to the increasing noise in our lives. And we don’t complain about it because we simply don’t know what’s happening. That’s what happens when you turn inward. When you get quiet. When you turn down all the noise from outside and even from inside, all of a sudden, then as you return into the real world, you will notice it and you will be more sensitive to it.
But still, I would rather have my awareness. I would rather have this sensitivity than to lose it because the same sensitivity that finds airplane noise and dogs barking frustrating is the same sensitivity that can move inward and listen to the sound and the voice and the movement of my own soul.
If we don’t know what it’s like to feel quiet, to be alone to have some solitude in our lives, then how can we actually expect to touch in with the quietest part of our own existence?
— There’s a resiliency to it. There’s a self love to it.
This this sovereignty, this independence, this dominion over our own feelings, our own mind, and to the extent that we can, over our environment is a power that can withstand the forces that come at us from the outer world. It is challenging, in our culture, to choose solitude, and yet for our health and well being, we must choose it. We must choose it more and more often, if only so that we can notice how loud and how busy, our lives really have become.
If we stay with the frog and the boiling water analogy, then we have to finally realize that the water is hot.
And we’ve got to jump out and save ourselves and find cooler ground. This is our work. And it is the hardest work of this particular time because it is against the grain completely. There’s not a lot of celebration around going off and being alone and being a hermit. Usually, when I tell people about my experiences, they look at me a little cross-eyed. They don’t really understand what they would do with themselves, if they were all alone for a week and had to be quiet and no one to talk to.
But that’s just it. That’s a place of powerlessness. If we don’t know how to be alone, where is our power actually coming from? If we don’t know how to be alone, then we’re probably pulling our power from other people. That’s not true power.
True power is cultivated from within. It is a sense of self and wholeness that cannot be knocked over.
It needs to be replenished from time to time with more solitude and silence, but it cannot be taken away. In addition, it cannot be taken advantage of. When we have regenerated our own power through solitude, then we are the only ones that can motivate us to do what it is we want to do. Because we have been in touch with the quietest parts of ourselves the voices of our soul, no longer can we be subject to manipulation.
In our world right now there are so many influences that are pulling on our attention and our actions. It is really easy when we’re just caught up in the noise of the world to simply allow fear or anger or frustration or outrage to take us over. That’s not power.
True power is when we can stand in the middle of the storm that’s going on all around us. With mindfulness, with intention, with love for what we’re seeing, we’re not separating from it. We’re simply observing, and then we can make choices that suit our own constitution, that are aligned with our personal values. And that will further our goals in this life. There is great power to be reclaimed in solitude. Give yourself that opportunity.
So much of health and well-being is about our own ability to have some say so in our environment.
Not everything is within our control, of course, certainly not in public spaces, but to the degree that we can start to quiet things down around us. We might find that we sleep better, eat better, feel better, recover better.
I encourage you to quiet down your life in any way that you can to come into some solitude with yourself to replenish your stores of power and your sense of personal authority to reclaim your sense of values and purpose. I encourage you to awaken this power, this power of solitude.