We have the great privilege of living out in the country. It’s winter and the time of the year when there are moments of serene silence. Taking our dog Klara for a walk is a real pleasure. Music to my ears is the odd clump of snow falling from a tree branch, the crunchy sound of my boots on the forest path and nothing else. Even the birds have migrated further to warmer southern Europe with a lonely
When on a trip to the big cities the noise level is by contrast all the more startling. It is a scourge of the modern world that there is virtually no place to find solace. The sirens and other road noise is deafening. Any store you might enter will inevitably bombard you with the vibes of aggressive commercial radio stations. Can you think of any airport or public space without exposure from the electronic media?
Our senses have no time for relief. We are bombarded 24-7 with noise that stresses us at a conscious and subconscious level.
Sometimes I have visitors out here in the country who tell me that they cannot stand the silence. It makes them feel lonely. One person I know even needs the TV switched on all night to be able to sleep. Some kids out there are so addicted to their electronic media that they get aggressive if parents ask them to put the stuff away and to “communicate” . There are so many distractions out there, that there is no room left for contemplation. Alone time becomes “torture” in the same way a drug addict suffers withdrawal symptoms.
Noise stresses the brain and the nervous system on many levels, especially the pre-frontal cortex (PFC) that is also responsible for our ability to connect and to feel empathy with others. Noise and stress is in fact making us less human and can exacerbate psychological disorders such as depression. See this research: http://goo.gl/N7vhSh
The noise pollution caused by human activity is drowning that inner voice of the soul that seeks to tell us what is meaningful in life. Who are we really? What is our destiny at a soul level? Where are we heading in this life?
All the wise teachers throughout the ages recommend taking time out in nature. Natural sounds like bird song, the wind blowing through tree branches, spring water cascading against rock, raindrops falling on dry ground.
Such “time-out”moments can trigger real joy and a feeling of abundance, especially if we are forced to live in a noisy environment out of necessity. It grounds us and makes us connect back to the earth, the elements and our basic needs. One of the body arts that helps us connect with the above and below – of heaven and earth is Taiji. It was developed by Taoist monks in China thousands of years ago who, in observing the natural flow of movement by the animals, began integrating these movements in martial arts. Today more and more people are discovering for themselves these slow-meditative movements as an ideal way of de-stressing and re-connecting with the natural flow of nature.