For Personal Growth - 841 Words
We are bombarded every day with noise – trucks and cars going by, lawn mowers, sirens, television, and people chattering. On some level, we have grown used to having a constant stream of sound around us without realizing the negative effect it has on our ability to cognitively process information and to express our creativity. Noise and silence have different and significant results on the energy around us and within us.
Studies suggest that road and air traffic noise also have an adverse impact on blood pressure. People who live in consistently loud environments experience elevated levels of stress hormones. Anxiety may also increase depending on whether or not we have control over the source of the noise. Noise can cause us to be distracted when trying to complete a task, results in an inability to relax or sleep, and even hurts creativity due to the disruption of abstract processing. Certain sounds may promote relaxation or creativity, such as a music or the sounds of nature, yet a study by Luciano Bernardi in 2006 showed that two-minute stretches of silence were even more relaxing.
Depending on your unique disposition, the introduction of sound may feel necessary when alone to soothe feelings of loneliness. Those who dislike being alone tend to have the radio or television on the majority of the time. Then there are the empaths, who are sensitive to the energies of others, as well as to noise and sound in general, and who seek quiet environments as a result. Whichever group we place ourselves in, the effects of continuous exposure to noise and sound may not be readily apparent until we have the opportunity to experience utter silence.
In a 2010 study by Michael Wehr, it was discovered that our brains stop reacting when there is continuous sound, and the change to silence triggers a separate network of neurons. In another study by Imke Kirste in 2013, she discovered that two hours of silence per day encouraged cell development in the hippocampus, the region of the brain related to the formation of memory.
Interestingly, in the face of silence, the brain will create its own internal sounds, such as when we are able to hear a song in our heads that is not playing externally within the environment. At the same time, freedom from noise and tasks allows us to process the information we are exposed to on a regular basis. Being in a quiet place allows us to know ourselves better. It gives us the opportunity to be with ourselves and to have a deep discussion with ourselves about what we think and feel. While noise distracts us from thoughts and feelings we may find upsetting or disturbing, it does not allow us to understand that distress and to deal with it at a core level.
The need for silence has popularized sensory deprivation tanks: a soundproof, lightproof, salt-water filled tank that isolates the person from sensory input and allows one to float on top of the water to experience a sense of weightlessness. This environment allows a heightened sense of introspection for most, hallucinations and out-of-body experiences for some. Spiritual retreats that focus on quiet meditative activities also seek to produce a deep sense of relaxation and connection to self and spirit.
Wooded places with little to no human population provide the perfect environment to commune with oneself. On a trip to the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia, my husband and I hiked a few miles down a snow-covered trail and came to rest on some logs in a place where there was absolute silence. Not a bird chirped nor deer scampered. It was one of the most profound experiences with silence I have had. (The other was in the crypt at Canterbury Cathedral in Canterbury, England.) We sat for a long while, not talking, just experiencing. My whole body relaxed, a sense of joy and peace washed over me, and I reveled in the deep quiet that is all too rare in daily life.
Now that we have an increased awareness of the role noise and sound plays in our daily lives and the ways in which silence can enhance our cognitive function, overall performance, and health, it is time to test this concept. By noticing our stress level when around noise versus silence, we can distinguish the benefits of a noise-free environment and the difference in energy from one condition to the other. How much noise is in the environment? How much do we have control over (television, for example) and how much is out of our control (sounds of road and air traffic)?
Try eliminating sound when alone. Turn off the television, stereo, or radio. The ability to hear ourselves think will increase. Assess the level of concentration that can be achieved in a quiet environment. Determine the stress level in the body. We can cultivate peace and heighten concentration and creativity by reducing or eliminating the amount of noise we experience on a regular basis. Try it and see how the energy shifts for the better.
Diane Wing, M.A. is the founder of Wing Academy of Unfoldment, host of Wing Academy Radio, author of five books, and an experienced guide for those ready to see things differently. When it comes to getting unstuck and feeling great about life, her 9-word philosophy is: Let go. Be grateful. Stay open. See the magick. Find out more at www.WingAcademy.com