May 31, 2020

Quiet

Can you be alone and quiet? Can you simply sit and be still in silence, with YOU? Are you walking around unconscious, asleep?

It seems that everywhere we go these days there is “human” noise of some kind or other obscuring the peace of quiet.

One typical day:

Bank – music playing from small radio on the counter. An advertisement is broadcasting on two large TV screens, with sound. Two people in line talking on cell phones and yes, one at the counter talking on a cell while interacting with the Customer Service Agent.

Restaurant — music playing through overhead sound system. Fourteen TV screens, all on. When asked to turn the music down, the server explains that it is company policy that the music must be on and they are not permitted to change the volume.

Grocery store — music playing overhead, announcements, TV monitors blaring the news throughout the store and one positioned overhead at each cashier line.

Gas station — music playing inside through overhead sound system. TV screens at the pumps, all on, all blaring advertising with sound loud enough to be heard while in the car. And here’s the best — speakers mounted on the top of the building playing different music than what is playing inside.

Bookstore — music playing overhead, different music playing in coffee area, and yes, speakers outside playing more music on the patio.

What’s the point, you may ask. Well, my response is exactly that; What is all this noise for, and what role does it play in MY life?

The gift we can give to ourselves is the gift of willingness to pause, and notice. Notice how our experience changes as we begin to awaken, and discover the veil of unconsciousness the noise offers. A veil we may have never noticed before.

Many of us don’t even think about it, but we somehow need the noise. We play the radio the minute we start the car. We turn on the television as soon as walked in the house (often before taking off our coat). We eat in front of the TV. We work in offices or stores that have music playing throughout the building, all day. We are entrenched in the noise, and we don’t realize it because it is so prevalent in our society. Only when we begin to listen, and to look at our daily experience, do we find it finally letting go of us.

As a Student of Experience™, I don’t often delve into the “why” of things; why takes us into mind, into thinking, and there is so much more offered in looking at our experience. However, occasionally it can be beneficial in helping us to discover the “how”. So, for that reason alone, let’s take a quick look at why.

It is quite simple; we need the noise to block out all of the obsessive and excessive thinking going on inside our heads. Once we begin looking; being still and intentionally looking at our thoughts and the experience within our body, we quickly see that there is typically so much going on inside, we just are not equipped to handle it all. The noise; the music, the television, the cell phone texting, it all serves as a buffer to separate us from our thoughts. The interesting thing is, many people are completely unaware of their perpetual state of unconsciousness. If you asked them about the relentless thinking in their heads that the music covers up, many would say, “what thinking, I just really like music.”

Well, that may be true. In fact, I myself do like music a great deal, and today I can listen when I choose to listen. Not so long ago I lived exactly as noted above, with music on all the time, never even noticing it was everywhere and the role it played in my life. Today, listening to music is no different for me than doing anything else; when I am listening to music, that’s what I am doing. I no longer “need” it on in the background while doing other things and it no longer plays the role of covering up my obsessive mind.

Exercise: See how you experience yourself as you attempt to be still, just sitting with yourself, in silence. There is no need to try to meditate or anything else, just take a few minutes — planned minutes — to simply sit quietly. Or, turn you car radio off on the drive today, even just for a few minutes, and notice how it feels. Notice as you do this, how it is for you. You may just find, as I did, that you don’t know YOU, and you can’t be WITH yourself, alone and in silence.

If you find the experience too unsettling, stop. There is no need to force an unpleasant experience upon yourself. But again, notice that it was unpleasant and realize the gift that comes in that unpleasantness. The gift is the experience, because you now know yourself a little better. If you wish to continue working toward being peaceful in your stillness, take small steps. Try a few minutes each day, or keep the radio off in the car a bit longer each day. Eventually you will discover that you make it all the way home one day without turning the radio on, in silence with yourself.

Turn off the noise and awaken to you!

This was written by Jim McDonald

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