Are you aware of all the CHAOS that constantly surrounds us at every moment? We never notice it until a rare moment comes when we find ourselves alone in TOTAL SILENCE.
If you’ve ever had the chance to experience TOTAL SILENCE, it’s amazing at every little detail you hear. Some people can actually HEAR the silence!
[Eds. note: The high-pitched “shhhhh” sound that is heard in total silence is a physiological nerve saturation effect caused by exposure to too much noise!]
Some people cannot tolerate silence for very long. They are so “allergic” to silence that they have to turn on the TV or radio if it gets too quiet. It’s not because they want entertainment, it’s because they need NOISE to be comfortable.
In fact, this phenomena is so widespread, that it even has a popular name. We call these comfortable background sounds, “white noise”, and you can even buy them on CD at the music store!
Does anyone have a white noise addiction?
Why does total silence freak some people out?
Total silence and isolation causes you to face your inner self and think seriously about your life. Most people can’t handle that, because they think that’s worse than DEATH. They instinctually try to avoid that “death” by busying themselves with something else. In fact, ANY other activity or distraction will do.
If you are a person who is restless with silence and isolation, I suggest you take some time to sit alone in total silence and face your worst FEARS. Find a place where no one will disturb you, pull the curtains and lock the door. TURN OFF your mobile, the computer, the TV and stereo, unplug the phone, and eliminate anything else that could be a potential distraction or a source of noise. Find a comfortable chair (but not TOO comfortable) and keep your butt in it for ONE HOUR. If your butt leaves the cushion (or if you fall asleep), then the clock starts over.
Try it. You’ll tell yourself it’s easy, or it’s a waste of time, but you’re only fooling yourself. It will be tougher than you think. Just try it! I dare you.
I always thought I was a very calm person. I even had a reputation among friends and family that nothing could FAZE me. But the first time I tried this, I only lasted 10 minutes before I impulsively jumped up and ran around the room, desperately looking for something to busy myself with. I didn’t have anything in mind to do, so I didn’t understand why I had to get up and DO something. I just felt so NEUROTIC!
When I saw that I couldn’t follow through on my decision to stay in the chair for one hour, I realized there was more to this then you’d normally expect to find. In fact, I had to try this exercise every day for TWO WEEKS before I was able to sit in the chair for ONE HOUR without distraction. At the end of that hour, I was shaking with a self-conscious nervousness, and I leaped out of the chair with a gasp, as soon as the second hand reached the hour.
I thought it would be easy, but it wasn’t. It was harder than my wildest imaginations.
I could have stopped there after my first victory, patting myself on the back and telling myself that I did it, finally. But after I saw how much of a struggle it was for me to simply sit in a chair, it made me realize my true condition – just how anxious and restless I really was!
I made the sad, but fortunate discovery that I am someone who lived out my days, running on some mindless, impulsive habit, and I didn’t even KNOW it!
So upon this revelation, I decided to help myself and do this exercise once or twice a week for several months, until I could MASTER my impulsiveness and anxieties. It might seem like I was only torturing myself, but I’m glad I stuck with it, because now, I no longer feel like my life is RUNNING AWAY from me. I’ve gained a lot of SELF-CONTROL, DETERMINATION and INNER PEACE as a result.
I urge you to try this same exercise. You might be surprised with yourself at first, but I promise you, if you stick with it long enough to become well acquainted with the INSECURITY and IMPETUOSITY of your own emotions, you’ll feel much better about yourself after that.
[Eds. note: Please comment if you’ve tried this.]
[Eds. note: There are very few books available for additional readings on this subject. The only one I’ve found is “Nurturing Silence in a Noisy Heart”, by Wayne E. Oates.]