March 13, 2017
Creating a Quiet Life in a Noisy World
If you’re a quiet, sensitive person, it can feel like the world is SO LOUD sometimes. Like everyone is shouting, even over the Internet. If you’re drawn to create something big, it can be a challenge to do that in what feels like a maelstrom of input and sound and shouty-ness.
If you’re looking to create more quiet in your everyday life, start here.
Why are you looking for more quiet?
What are you hoping to heal? What are you hoping to find?
Defining the purpose of the quieter life can be a huge gift. Suddenly, it doesn’t feel selfish or anti-social. There is intentionality accompanying the dream.
Of course, you never have to justify why you’re seeking more quiet and stillness, but knowing your intention can help you cultivate it with less drama. It can also be a nice guide for friends or family who can’t understand why you’re suddenly shushing them or switching off the TV at random. Know what you’re hoping to create in place of the noise.
Discover and trust your rhythm
When and where are you looking to create more quiet? What times of day make sense for you to be more quiet? Are there times when external stimuli seem to be more upsetting for your nervous system?
Notice and trust your natural rhythm.
For some, creating more quiet in the hour(s) before bedtime makes the most sense. Others prefer to wake slowly and make their way into the day more gently. Notice what works (or doesn’t) for you. Are there particular times or circumstances where you’re drawn to be more quiet, naturally?
Trust that information and allow your rhythms to guide you, rather than forcing your natural flow into an artificial pattern.
Once you know your intention, and have a handle on your rhythms, you can begin to create a respectful container in which they can thrive.
This is highly personal. But notice: what kinds of boundaries do you need? Are they boundaries with others? Or is it more about internal boundaries and structure?
Offer yourself what you need. Boundaries can be your best friends, if you create them in a way that reflects your needs. Maybe it’s around certain times of day, certain people, or certain types of media. Maybe it’s limiting your exposure to social media, the news, or particular foods. No matter what boundaries you need, you don’t need to apologize.
Life can feel noisy, boundaries can dampen the sound and create a filter for what we’re consuming so that we can feel less overwhelmed.
Dedicate quiet time
I set aside time every week to be silent. This means that I’m also not accepting external input in the form of sound, either, aside from ambient natural sounds and sounds from my neighborhood. It’s a time to turn inward. There is silence, but the silence isn’t just there for me to fill.
It can exist for its own sake.
It can nourish in its own way.
I can accept the present moment, without needing to alter it with my words, with music, or with technology.
This time is sacred and gives my brain the opportunity to integrate all of the input it accepts on a daily (hourly, really) basis. Sometimes, I don’t use the time for anything in particular. Sometimes, I meditate. Other times, I’m struck with inspiration and spend the time journaling, sketching or teasing out the fragile details of my day dreams.
In that quiet space, I don’t get sidetracked, and my ideas have the space to germinate and grow.
Switch off everything that doesn’t need to be on
The phone notifications.
The ready-alert instinct in your brain.
If you’re seeking more quiet, walk through your house (or your own mind) and look at what you can switch to off. When I disabled all of the notifications on my phone, life suddenly became so much more still and easeful. My attention could finally rest in the present, where I wanted it to be.
Not only was it literally less noisy, but I could also drop the vigilance that had become my default setting. I wasn’t constantly waiting for the next interruption. I could simply be in the moment.
Similarly, bright screens and overhead lights go off at 9pm in my house. I switch my phone to airplane mode. I am off-duty at that point. My time and energy and attention is truly my own.