The first thing many of us hear is the sound of our alarm going off in the morning. We reach over with sleep still in our eyes to turn it off. It’s rarely ever a pleasant alarm that lets you ease into your day… more like a blaring horn screaming at you to WAKE UP! From that moment on every alert possible pops up on your phone. Email from your boss. Meeting at 2 pm. The text from your best friend telling you about the amazing night she had with her new guy. The alarm you set so that you know when to leave the house to beat traffic. In this day of always being so connected, have we forgotten what quiet sounds like? Have we forgotten what our world is like without the noise?
Tuning out the loudness of your environment is hard as hell. We have gotten used to the noise. Think about it: do you turn on the tv just to have something on in the background? What about making small talk with your coworker while you’re both getting coffee so that there’s no awkward silence? Even now I’ve got all of my notifications turned on for my computer as I write this article as if I really need that Twitter alert to interrupt my train of thought. And yes, the alert annoys me and the continuous alerts stress me out, but I feel like I need them or else I’m out of sync with what’s going on. Being so in tune with the world is quite possibly driving us insane.
If you’re like me, then you’re suffering from a post election depression. You want to block out the negativity, but you find yourself listening to interviews that make your blood boil, reading news stories that infuriate you, and engaging in conversations that only lead to more stress. Your entire body is tense but you’ve convinced yourself that this tension is your new normal and that you are preparing yourself for the next 4 years of hell. This amount of noise and stress in your life is not healthy. Close your eyes and take a deep breath. The only sound you may need to hear is the sound of your own breathing.
I was recently in a very remote area where I couldn’t hear the traffic of the city and I couldn’t get a cell phone signal. My initial thought was to panic. Surely something must be wrong. It’s too quiet. This isn’t right. The longer I stood surrounded by quiet the more comfortable I became. I believe that every piece of matter gives off a vibration and that whether we are aware of it or not, we feel those vibes. The vibrations I felt from the silence were unlike the hustle of the city. They were calm and warm like someone putting their arm around my shoulder telling me it’s going to be okay. I experienced a tranquility I had not felt in so long and I needed it. The bottomline: we need quiet.
How do we get more of that stillness and silence? It starts with simple practices at home. Dr. Michelle LeBelle AKA Ghana Goddess suggests turning off and tuning into yourself. “I leave quiet time for myself at the beginning and end of each day. I put my phone on do not disturb and use low light with candles or a small lamp. I use that time to pray, meditate and listen to soft music.” She also recommends using that time to do a little self care like a facial, a long shower or bath, and some stretching.
For me, when my world gets too noisy, I envision a tiny island where the only sound I hear is the waves rolling in and out. I close my eyes and I am there. I can feel the warmth of the sun on my face and my worries are nowhere to be found. No text messages, no emails, no screaming neighbors, no barking dogs. Even if just for a few moments, I am there. That island is my happy place. When I am ready to rejoin the world, I do it piece by piece so that I give myself time to readjust. We all need time away and time to reacclimate. Whether it’s changing your morning or night routine to doing your usual activities without noise in the background, find your peace and your silence and remember to disconnect as often as you can.