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The Sounds of Silence

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The Sounds of Silence

In a world that inhales technology and exhales anxiety, we spend a good portion of our days in an endless, unrestrained orgy of noise. From cell phones bleeping in concert halls to music blasting from our neighbours’ windows and machines buzzing across verdant lawns, noise assaults us from every conceivable direction. Natural silence, it seems, has become an exceedingly rare and increasingly endangered commodity.

In a world that inhales technology and exhales anxiety, we spend a good portion of our days in an endless, unrestrained orgy of noise. From cell phones bleeping in concert halls to music blasting from our neighbours’ windows and machines buzzing across verdant lawns, noise assaults us from every conceivable direction. Natural silence, it seems, has become an exceedingly rare and increasingly endangered commodity.

During a recent vacation in a small, sleepy village on the Aegean coast, I watched the waves gently lap against the shore and listened to the birds sing. I wondered, when was the last time my thoughts roamed, uninterrupted by manufactured sound? I couldn’t recall.

Some will argue that a world flooded with technological gadgets is bound to be noisy. It is a mere nuisance to balance the numerous advantages technology offers. Noise is progress. Noise is energy. Yet, while we may have chosen to resign ourselves to the industrial soundscape, mounting evidence suggests that noise may be killing us softly.

Not only are hearing problems on the rise–affecting three million Canadians at last count, according to the Hearing Foundation of Canada–but research also indicates that noise plays a considerable role in everything ranging from chronic insomnia to mental and behavioural disorders.

A leading expert on the issue, Professor Deepak Prasher, head of University College London’s audiology unit, claims that elevated levels of traffic noise, especially at night, can trigger ulcers and heart attacks.

Noise-sensitive women may be significantly more at risk of noise-induced heart attack than others, reported the journal Science of the Total Environment in January 2007.

It seems our bodies are not quite ready for the din of modern life.

The simple solution is to adopt a few silencing tactics. They will help you find the few moments of quiet that your body craves and stay sane–and healthy–in a noisy world.

Four Ways to Muffle the World’s Roar

1. Start your day with silence

Before rushing headlong into another day, do something relaxing when you first wake up. Most people reach for coffee and turn on the news. That is the worst thing you can do. Instead stretch, read something inspirational, or meditate.

2. Practise silent exercise

Leave your portable media player at home when you go outdoors to a quiet park to exercise. Silence enables you to get deeply acquainted with your muscles, breathing, and posture. Revel in natural silence.

3. Create a silent retreat at home

Set aside an evening at home when you turn off your TV, your phone, and other machines. With no blather coming your way, you will be able to think deeply and reconnect with yourself.

4. Find silence within

Allow thoughts to come and go as you relax into gentle, inner peace.

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