Noise certainly seems to be part of our everyday lives from the alarm clock in the morning, to the traffic outside, to the never-ending sound of voices, radio, and television.Our bodies and minds appear to acclimate to these outside intrusions. Or do they?
Two decades ago the committee on Environmental Quality of the Federal Council for Science and Technology found that “growing numbers of researchers fear the dangerous and hazardous effects of intense noise on human health are seriously underestimated.” Similarly, the late Vice President Nelson Rockefeller, when writing about the environmental crisis of our time, noted that when people are fully aware of the damage noise can inflict on man, “peace and quite will surely rank along with clean skies and pure waters as top priorities for our generation”
More recent studies, writes Michael D. Seidman, M.D., in terrific book, Save Your Hearing Now, suggest that we pay a price for adapting to noise: higher blood pressure, heart rate, and adrenaline secretion; heightened aggression; impaired resistance to disease; a sense of helplessness. Studies indicate that when we can control noise, its effects are much less damaging. I haven’t been able to find any studies on the effects of quite in repairing the stress of noise, but I know intuitively that most of us love quite and need it desperately. We are so used to noise in our lives that silence can sometimes feel awkward and unsettling. On vacation, for instance, when quite prevails, we may have trouble sleeping. But choosing times of silence can enrich the quality of our lives tremendously. If you find yourself overworked, stressed-out, irritated, or tense, rather than heading for a coffee or snack break, maybe all you need is a silence break. Everyone at some time has experienced the feeling of being overwhelmed by life. Everyone, too, has felt the need to escape, to find a quite, secluded place to experience the peace of spirit, to be alone with quite thoughts. Creating times of silence in your life takes commitment and discipline. Most of the time, periods of silence must be scheduled into your day’s activities or you’ll never have any.
Maybe you can carve out times of silence while at home where you can be without radio, television, telephone, or voices. If you live in a family, maybe the best quite time for you is early in the morning before other arise. In that silence, you can become more aware, more sensitive to your surroundings, feel more in touch with the wholeness of life.