Our world is full of noise. When there isnít noise around us, we plug in our ear buds and make some of our own. When was the last time you sat and listened to nothing? I donít mean you tuned out the chaos at lunch because you were so tired, or took a shower without your shower radio on. I mean, when was the last time you turned off your music, your computer, your fan and closed the door. Then you lay on your bed or sat in your chair and didÖnothing. You just listened to silence.
Your world is so full of background noises you probably donít even notice all of the humming and buzzing that goes on around you. Recently, the power was off in my house for quite a stretch and it was easy to tell when it happened. Not because the clocks stopped, but because I woke up in dead silence. The house was still Ė there was no air conditioning or heat moving through pipes and vents. There was no refrigerator turning on and off. There was no hum from the hard drive or whirl of the fan. There was nothing. It was extremely odd. Odd enough that silence has the power to wake you up, but odder still that I didnít notice how much noise was always around me.
A Silence Experiment
If you want to experience silence right now, youíll probably have to go somewhere youíre familiar with, but rarely spend time. Head into your closet and close the door. Leave the light off since it probably makes a light buzzing or humming noise. Now, listen. To me, the still and empty air is warm and comforting if unusual. To others it might be scary.
The Comfort of Noise
We are comfortable in our noisy environments. Sounds tell us what is normal around us and when we have new messages or emails. We are tuned into the various beeps and melodies of our lives and when separated from them, itís easy to feel disconnected and even panicky that youíre going to miss something important. If silence makes you panicked or edgy, you are actually in need of more quiet time, not less.
Noise is a form of torture. I donít mean all noises, of course as many are relaxing and soothing Ė imagine yourself by a gurgling stream, for example. But certain kinds of noise really are used as torture Ė blaring rock music, repetitive sounds and collections of sounds and noises that are known to be stimulating and irritating to humans. So if noise can be bad for us, is it good to be surrounded by it all the time?
After spending a few hours in silence after my power went out, Iíd have to say yes. Being surrounding in noise all the time makes us edgy and spurs us on in our fast paced lives. Itís easy to be stressed and driven with constant chaos and noise around you, but itís much harder to feel that go-go-go we usually feel when there is nothing but peace around us. Sit and listen to nothing Ė it might surprise you how refreshing it is.