Listen and silent are spelled with the same letters. The din of every day sound waves in constant commotion can set our nerves on edge like a steel garden hoe hitting a smooth dry rock. There seems to be a constant background static of babel which harkens that the world has become all too insistent. Buzzing technology, hullabaloo that passes for conversation, media uproar at decibels far above a comfort level will cause discomfort over time. The technical name for sensitivity to noise is hyperacusis. Loud noises can be overwhelming and at times just too much for the brain to process. There is a neurological condition called Misophonia in which specific sounds cause anxiety, panic, or anger. Such intrusion is unavoidable, but choosing silence for a short period can help to balance the negative effects of noise. A return to nature, where less is always more may be a pleasant option.
Winter seems to be a quieter season than the others. Noise is softer and movement is slower. Activities may be delayed or canceled due to weather and we find a few unscheduled moments to sit by the fire or go for a walk outdoors. It could be that people are not out as much or traffic slows but it is also that as snow falls, it absorbs some sound waves. Lacking the urgency that is summer, winter beckons a more gentle invitation. Leave the headphones inside, toss a scarf over your coat and set out with a cup of warmth held between woolen mittens. Walk with only your thoughts for company through your neighborhood or find a hiking path, spend time in your own outdoor space where your summer beauties slumber. Welcome the silence as tranquility replaces agitation and listen to hear your thoughts now on pace with your senses.
S-Still the mind
L-Let go of Worries
N-Notice the breath
C-Connect to All
The late Thomas Merton, a Trappist monk, poet, social activist and student of comparative religion said, “But there is greater comfort in the substance of silence than in the answer to a question.” Trappists are characterized by austerity and a commitment to silence. An oath of silence may be extreme but an afternoon would not be out of the question. I believe I could commit to this idea? Could you? Do you have any expectation of what you might gain? Listen and silent are spelled with the same letters, if we allow ourselves the luxury of a small slice of silence might we perhaps listen to understand and not just listen to hear?