In a world where we are constantly bombarded by a variety of stimuli, silence is getting harder and harder to find. Not everyone craves silence though because the sound of silence can be deafening as much as it can be a refuge from the storm.
The demands of daily life mean little time to ourselves. And even when we are alone, technology has all but ensured that we are truly able to experience peace and quiet. Non-stop notifications pop up on our phones telling us to answer an “urgent” email, that the product in our shopping cart is on sale, that people are liking and commenting on our posts and tweets, and that we basically need to have our phones on hand 24/7.
There’s the sound of arguing people, honking cars, music in the other room, the clicking of your keyboard, and barking dogs. The noise is incessant, and all of these contribute to what is called outer noise.
Outer noise, however, is not just what you hear. Outer noise refers to the stimuli you receive from your environment. This includes the flashing lights of an ambulance passing by, window displays and billboards that tempt you to buy whatever it is they are trying to sell, the smell of garbage in an alleyway, and even the muggy polluted air that makes it hard to breathe.
Noise is everywhere, leaving most of us over-stimulated.
Finding Quiet Time
Finding some quiet time to spend alone with your own thoughts and to recharge is vital to your well-being – not just your mental well-being but to your physical health as well. Our brain NEEDS more quiet time.
Finding peace and quiet can be tricky, especially if you have children or are extremely busy, but it is still doable. You can schedule quick pauses throughout the day to find some moments of silence. Simple things like shutting off your phone, doing yoga, meditating, or even just eating your breakfast in silence.
If you truly want some peace and quiet, it shouldn’t be a problem. As they say, when there’s a will, there’s a way. The bigger problem though is not in finding ways to escape outer noise but in keeping that scary inner noise at bay.
To shut off outer noise all you need to do is go to your bedroom, close the curtains, turn off the lights AND your phone, put on your comfiest clothes, and drift off. But as everyone knows, sleep can still elude you even in the quietest of rooms. It is almost impossible to get a good night’s rest when you are experiencing inner turmoil when you cannot turn off the inner noise.
Inner noise makes it difficult to be alone. It nags us, reminding us of our long to-do list. It is our thoughts and emotions sweeping over us, filling us with sadness, loneliness, anger, anxiety, and fear. It leaves our mind racing and drains us emotionally, physically, and mentally.
Inner noise is insidious because, unlike outer noise, it lives within us and with us everywhere we go. It is something that has started to prey on our minds from the moment we experienced our first hurt as a child and continues to grow with every negative thought and experience.
As hard as it may be to shut off outer noise, it is even harder to escape inner noise.
Finding Solace in Silence
The fear of having to listen to our inner voices, when the voices are filled with pain and fear, is perhaps one of the biggest reasons why people embrace the noisiness of the world. Having people around us, doing things non-stop, and relying on instant and constant entertainment helps drown out the inner noise. Dealing with outer noise all the time can be irritating and exhausting, but facing our inner demons is much harder.
Sure, you can go on about your life ignoring the inner noise as much as you can. You can fill every waking moment with music, TV shows, going out with friends, running after your kids, working yourself to the bone, or even throwing yourself with passion into helping others. In fact, you can do much good in this world by being constantly on the go, but in the end, all the “outer noise” both good and bad, will not be enough to truly silence the inner noise.
The only way you can find true silence is by filtering out the outer noise and learning to listen to what your inner noise is trying to say. The internal turmoil you feel does not exist just to torture you; it is there to tell you something.
If you are to find solace in silence, the first thing you need to do is understand where all the inner conflict and negativity are coming from. You have to face yourself, spend time in silence, and learn from it. There will still be days when it will be hard to find peace but those are the days when you need to seek silence most. Just keep at it, and take the time to reflect and meditate. Sooner than later, you will find that moments of silence will turn into a source of comfort and encouragement instead of moments spent in unease with yourself.
“I’ve begun to realize that you can listen to silence and learn from it. It has a quality and a dimension all its own.”
― Chaim Potok, The Chosen