In the attitude of silence the soul finds the path in a clearer light, and what is elusive and deceptive resolves itself into crystal clearness. ~ Mahatma Gandhi
A guest post by Mark Owen-Ward of Energy Applied
As sound it presents itself as constant traffic noise or as the television in the background. It’s the beeping alarm that wrenches us awake to start another day. Throughout the day we will be assaulted by our “really cool” ringtone, by text messages and email alerts.
Visually, noise shows up as cluttered road signs, as the hundreds of magazines in the newsagent, or in the chaos of retail outlets where every square inch has been assessed and utilized to make us buy.
We are bombarded by smells and aromas from dawn to dusk, from exhaust fumes to petro-chemical based colognes and aftershaves, from the plastics in our cars to the air-fresheners in our homes. Most of the time, we don’t even smell these odours.
In our minds, as multi-tasking and demanding quick thinkers, we are drowning in a noisy torrent of our own thoughts, desires and emotions.
Noise is an indiscriminant pollutant: hypnotic but toxic. A life full of noise is a life without relief or space to simply be.
Stop for a while.
Give yourself permission to just sit down and be still for a few minutes.
Silence is so much more than “the condition of being or keeping still and silent.” We need silence to hear ourselves and make our own choices.
In the twenty first century we unwittingly choose noise at every opportunity, inviting it into our lives and into our heads; no wonder one third of the population needs anti-depressants at some time.
We need silence to bring us back to the present moment, to the here and now. We need silence in order to reflect on what has recently passed so we can avoid repeating mistakes. We need stillness to recharge and to relax and to free our mind from the constant stream of desires that propel us to a future where our life doesn’t yet exist.
We need silence to allow creativity to flourish and to realize our dreams. In crushing the necessary peace needed for imagination and recuperation, we crush our potential.
We need silence to know who we are. Enslaved to noise, we can only focus on escape and the future, looking forward to becoming the person we believe we might be.
Ten steps for bringing silence into our noisy world
Becoming aware of the dominance of noise is the first step to bringing more silence, stillness and peace into your life. The benefits of silence are real, no matter how small the periods you can manage:
- Be aware that you need daily time for silence and stillness.
- Start your day in silence by changing your alarm from a buzz or a beep to a radio and set it to a classical radio station.
- Start your day earlier and give yourself twenty minutes with no agenda. Just wake early and be still and quiet. If it feels strange to begin with just relax and breathe with it – the rewards are worth the effort.
- Leave the radio or TV off in the morning – there are many other ways you can catch up on the news during the day.
- Pay attention to each thing that you do as you do it. For example, as you shower be aware of the sound of the water and the feeling of the water on your skin.
- Go perfume free for the day – notice your sense of smell today. Without your own personal olfactory arsenal blitzing your delicate nasal passages you will notice more smells today (good and bad).
- Listen on your way to work. If you drive, leave the radio off – if you take a train, try the journey without reading a newspaper or listening to your ipod. Instead pay attention to your surroundings and really see what is there. Why not try a different route?
- Don’t eat lunch at your desk, go out instead and sit under a tree. Look up at the leaves and listen to the sound of the leaves moving. You only need five to ten minutes to commune with nature. Pay attention to the colour of the leaves and the texture of the bark; touch the bark and feel the roughness of it and contrast that with all the smooth textures that you are used to in your usual environments.
- Do something different this evening; leave the TV switched off. Try walking around your neighbourhood on a route you’ve not travelled before – introduce yourself to some neighbours you’ve never spoken to before.
- Clear the clutter from your bedroom and spend some time in there in quietness. Write down your thoughts from the day and reflect on what you have noticed. Sleep without reading first, even if it takes longer.
Making space for silence in your life is a choice that will reward you with a clearer mind, protection from stress and a good physical recharge. Find space for silence in little pockets throughout the day – you will find that the more mindful you become, the more space for silence you create.
Mark Owen-Ward is a wellness coach, personal trainer, minimalist, photographer, and father of three. His passion lies in helping people develop new habits for simple wellness which he writes about at his blog, Energy Applied.
Note from Mary Jaksch: I’m proud to announce that Mark Owen-Ward is a member of the A-List Blogger Club where Leo Babauta and I shape the top bloggers of tomorrow.