How To Listen In A World Filled With Noise

by Sarah on May 11, 2012

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When I rose this morning, the world was shrouded in mist.

And when my daughter and I arrived at the spot we wait at for her to get the bus, instead of turning on the radio for the news, she opened the window.

The car was flooded with birdsong. Long persistent staccatos. Trills that climbed upwards to reach high notes.

“It sounds like a rainforest!” She exclaimed, turning to me, her dull I-don’t-want-to-go-to-school-today eyes taking on a brightness that wasn’t there before.

It does.

If there’s one thing that makes me feel like I’m the wealthiest person in the world, it’s being able to step outside of my door and enjoy the beauty of the woods, pond, and fields around us.

But while the sight of it all fills me with a sense of peace and liveliness, I can’t neglect the power of the sounds. Many a time I’ve taken a short walk into the back field just so I can hear the chortling brook back there.

I’ve had days when my mind is filled with marketing strategy, stress about deadlines, parental to-do’s, and more. But I get close to that brook and listen and all that gets washed away with the sound.

Turn Down The Noise And Turn Up The Listening To Think Better

Not only does it relieve tension. But – like this morning when I opted not to listen to the news – it turns on a different part of our brain. Here’s what I mean . . .

We keep a radio on outside during the day when the chickens are out to keep the fox away. It’s done a terrific job.

In fact, so good that the fox doesn’t come by here any more. Our chickens have gotten so complacent that when we give them a chicken fire drill by making the chicken noise for warning (yes, they have one – it’s like a low trill), they barely look up from their pecking and scratching. Before, they used to flee to the magnolia tree in the center of the yard

The news is always on in the yard once the chickens are out. (I’m sure by now the hens are experts on the economy and geopolitics by now.)

However, while it’s kept the chickens safe . . . just like the complacent hens, we’ve also turned off our listening ears. I mean really listening – not just to the voice on the radio. But to the voice inside our head, welling up from the wisest, deep recesses of our brains.

We realized that with the news on all the time, we weren’t thinking about things as much. We weren’t really observing our environment. We weren’t musing over things we heard on the news. Or something we noticed in the garden or going on with our children.

News and information is critical for navigating this world. But by having someone else’s voice on all the time when we were outside, we were turning off our own ability to put ideas together and formulate new revelations.

And we were turning off our ability to observe things firsthand and really see the world and form opinions and understanding.

These are soon becoming lost arts, if you ask me.

So we’ve stopped keeping the radio on as much when we’re outside. (Don’t worry about the chickens, they’re safe from the fox when we’re around in the yard.)

And it’s amazing what you start to think when someone else’s thoughts aren’t always intruding.

See, we get used to noise in our daily lives. In fact, sometimes we use it to hide from our thoughts and feelings. I’ve turned on the radio on many occasions when I don’t want to hear myself think.

When we fill our minds with outside noise, we lose the powerful revelations that are just waiting to spring up inside of us and change our lives.

We lose the opportunity to take on problems that are plaguing us and nip them in the bud.

Sure, sometimes it’s nice to tune out for a bit. I’m not knocking that. Sometimes we need a break from the worries, resentment, or sadness that may be needling us inside.

Sometimes it’s better to put off facing them and just get through your day. For example, research demonstrates that if you’re grieving, it’s better in most cases to just get busy for a while to take the edge off when grief first hits.

But don’t put tuning in off forever. Find out what’s going on inside so you can take the right steps to address what those voices are trying to tell you to pay attention to.

And don’t deprive yourself of the opportunity to tap into some real wisdom and creativity  . . . and healing . . . that’s right under your nose.

How To Listen If You Can’t Find A Quiet Spot

The country life is indeed peaceful. But I certainly haven’t always enjoyed this quietness mixed with birdsong.

When I lived in New York City my nights and days were filled with the sounds of radios, sirens, yells, doors slammed and more.

Not everyone has the privilege to step outside and gain some peace and quiet.

So what are your options?

Create a healthy sound environment that can help drown out the noise.

When we lived in New York, many an evening we’d put on a tape of rolling thunderstorm sounds or the soothing rhythm of ocean waves.

When my children came along, we used noise machines with ocean waves to help them nod off to sleep . . . and stay sleeping (a parent’s dream!)

Listening to sounds of nature – even if they’re recorded – can help you step away from the noise.

So while I urge you to turn off the noise surrounding you, if you need to turn on some sound to help you relax and tap into your thoughts, do so.

And here’s a special piece of advice: If you usually have difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep, take the lead of my children when they were babies.

Sound machines have been demonstrated to work as well as – if not better than – sleeping pills in helping with insomnia.

And they’re a helluva lot better than putting drugs inside of you.

Many people swear by white noise machines.

But as my sleepless husband will attest – and many others struggling with the same restless nights – a good recorded thunderstorm can work wonders too.

Sleep is when your immune system is doing the bulk of its work. It allows your brain to strengthen its areas responsible for memory and focus. Too little sleep can mimic the symptoms of being drunk or being severely depressed.

You need it.

Some soothing sounds of nature may help you tune out of the noisy world around you and relax into a restful sleep.

Listen: Use Sound To Your Advantage And Cut The Noise

It’s easy to get caught up in your usual routine and tolerate the noise around you . . . if not embrace it. We get used to having the news blaring, talk shows, videos, podcasts and more.

I love information. I listen to the news avidly and will eat up a good recording in a heartbeat.

But don’t neglect to leave room for your own thoughts. For quiet – or relative quiet with the soft underpinning of nature’s rhythms.

We’re forgetting how to listen in this noisy world.

Take some quiet time breaks. Take some moments to listen to the world around you.

And take some time to listen to yourself.

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  • Jlee1994848

    I really enjoyed this article.  In fact I turned off the tv that was on while I was reading it.  You’re absolutely right…there is too much unnecessary noise in our lives.

    • Sarah

      Right on, Jlee. We’ve got wisdom hiding inside of us. Just too much noise in our way to hear it.

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