Turn that racket off!

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Do you find yourself stressed or anxious when there is no sound? Does silence give you anxiety? It certainly did for me. And I really didn’t notice until a power outage consumed my condo in silence and darkness. For 2 days. I’m sure you have experienced the same thing, maybe not 2 days, but minutes can seem like days when there is no sound or distraction.

You’ve heard it before and I’ll say it again; we are inundated with distraction. YouTube videos, streaming music, streaming videos, watching television, binge watching television shows, phone calls smart phones etc. I would find myself anxious and walking around my condo or office not knowing what the source of the anxiety was. What was wrong? What was going on? Then it struck me. There was no sound. No music, conversations, television playing, streaming music video. Just silence. It stressed me out.

So why are we stressed out by a lack of stimulus. Lack of sound. Why do we search for the TV remote at home to put anything on as “background music?” I know you’ve done it. Admit it.

The truth is, reality creeps in when things are quiet, or silent. Suddenly everything we have been avoiding thinking about comes to the surface. Money issues, relationship problems and tough conversations we have been avoiding. There is no distraction. If we don’t regularly give ourselves “quiet time” then these issues can be paralyzing and result in anger, stress, insomnia et cetera. We lose ourselves. The good news is, it can be avoided by simply taking a moment or two every day without distraction or “noise.” We need to turn the racket off. If we do a lot of these issues will be dealt with early and be less daunting. Like slowly twisting the top off a soda, you let the gas escape slowly and predictably. If we give it a quick turn… FFFFFTTTTT. Soda everywhere! Covering everyone around us!

Silent contemplation and reflection has become a rare occurrence in our daily routine. The number of hours either watching television or in front of a computer/smartphone has dramatically increase at the expense of “quiet time”. Even in bed we have our phones, laptops or tablets when we should be focusing on shutting ourselves down.

There should be a time in our day for reflection, calm and peace. I remember telling my sons, when they were young, that it was quiet time. They would throw themselves to the ground in frustration yelling “NO…NO …NOT QUIET TIME!” in between sobs. All I could think about at the time was that I would pay GOOD MONEY to have some quiet time!

Now there are a lot of you out there who enjoy yoga or meditation, which is excellent, but I am not suggesting you start there. I think that for them to work properly you need to get comfortable with the quiet. A great way to start is to do it right before you go to sleep. This is where most my “noise” is. The day’s events, new ideas, that jerk that cut me off in traffic. I start by focusing on my breathing. Tune out the creaks and cracks of your bedroom, the ambient noise from outside or upstairs, just your quiet breaths, in and out. It will be hard at first so don’t give up. Breathe. In and out. This will help in so many ways but for now it will help quiet the noise and help you fall asleep more quickly. This is the basis for basic meditation. Every time your mind wanders to what's for dinner, breathe. And again and again. It takes practice but the payoff is huge.

Another change that you can make is the next time you get home and want to automatically throw on the television, music, stop and take a moment. Don’t turn anything on. Take off your jacket and shoes. Make sure your keys are ready for the morning on the entrance table or shelf. Sit on the coziest chair that you have and take a few deep breaths. If you don’t have a comfy chair, get up put on your jacket and shoes, grab your keys and go get one! Everyone needs a comfy chair.

Silence and reflection are gifts. You deserve them. The good news is that it’s free! The alternative is to live in the racket. And that can cost a lot!

Robert SmithComment