I read a book earlier this year: “Quiet” by Susan Cain. The subject of the book is centered around introversion and the value that introverts have in our very extroverted society. My husband is an introvert and I read the book to more fully understand the world of the more quiet personality type. It was very good, and I love the title of the book, it’s simple but powerful. And I believe it’s a word that’s lost in our American, Western culture today.
Everywhere you go today you encounter noise. It is almost impossible to really embrace silence anymore. I was sitting in a coffee shop the other day and there was a guy talking on Skype very loudly to his girlfriend. I went to the coffee shop for a little bit of peace and quiet, but I got noise.I didn’t really want to awkwardly hear his conversation and it really annoyed me. But after an hour or two my friend Cindy joined me and we commenced in adding to the noise, so I don’t really have any room to talk. But regardless, have you noticed how noisy the world is? Even libraries seem loud nowadays. And even if you’re sitting in your car with no music going, your phone is probably buzzing, cars are honking- noise is everywhere.
Noise adds to our stress level too. There are numerous scholarly articles that discuss the effects noise has on the brain. You can find a couple articles here, here and here. The excessive noise around us is causing over stimulation and long term stress.
Why am I telling you this? If you know me at all you know that I’m a highly extroverted, busy, energetic, talkative person. I don’t like silences in conversation, I’m liable to talk nonstop just to keep silence from creeping in. Why on earth am I telling you about noise and the need to be quiet? I’m a major contributor to it!
Well, all my nervous extroverted energy aside, I’ve noticed this month that with my media fast for the “7” experiment that media is a huge creator of noise in my life and likely a huge contributor to my stress. On a typical day I never experience complete silence. I have the radio on during my commute, music playing or people around me during my work day (and meetings…. I go to lots of meetings), then more music or radio in the car, followed by whatever social activity or chores I need to do. The TV is frequently on in the background or I’m chatting with my husband about random things. Brent also likes to play the radio or Pandora at home as well. There are brief moments of silence throughout the day, and typically an hour right after I wake up (but I don’t really count that because I’m not very coherent in the morning, I’m practically not awake for that first hour, ha!). However, overall there is very little silence in my life.
This month there has been silence. No TV on in the background, minimal radio, infrequent dings and buzzes with facebook or twitter notifications. I feel a bit disconnected, but overall it’s been nice. And I’m realizing just how much I need more ‘quiet time’ in my life. I imagine that we all do. We need time to relax, take a deep breath, and just be present in the stillness and quiet around us. Jesus went to quiet places to be with God, and some of the most peaceful people in the world spend lengthy times in quiet, still settings. It’s a discipline that is lost in the United States, and I’m realizing that I need to practice it more.
I’m sure I’ll post again about this month’s 7 challenge in the near future, but these are my observations so far. I’d love to hear about if and how you incorporate moments of stillness and quiet in your life, and what you think the benefits are of that practice.