Noise pollution, also known as obtrusive ambient noise, has become an epidemic in the modern world. We are almost never treated to the serenity of silence. Without realizing it, we are doing tremendous damage to our psychological and physical health.
Think back to the last time you thought it was quiet in your home. Without even consciously being aware of it, you were in fact surrounded by noise of various kinds. The soft hum of your refrigerator, the commotion of the streets below your apartment, the constant cacophony of the traffic of the city – all of these make up the constant ambient noise that punctuates daily life. Country dwellers face no real reprieve from this consistent auditory assault either. Animals, the appliances in your home, and even the wind rustling through the trees all serve to keep you separated from perfect silence.
Noise causes the brain to work on at least a low level on a constant basis. In some ways, this can be a good thing. Our bodies are designed to constantly assess the situations we find ourselves in as a means of keeping us out of danger. If you were able to totally ignore all of the noises around you, then you may not be able to detect a sabre tooth tiger, burglar, oncoming car, or other threat before it’s too late. We need to be able to handle at least some noise in order to ensure our very survival.
This is not to say that excessive ambient background noise, or noise pollution, is necessarily a good thing. Noise pollution can cause a myriad of physical effects, including high blood pressure, headaches, migraines, or in severe cases, heart attacks and strokes. The psychological effects include elevated stress levels, persistent irritation, and even depression over the long term.
It does not have to be this way though. While we cannot totally erase noise pollution from our lives, in fact total silence may be enough to push most people to the brink of insanity, we can minimize its overall effect on our health and well being.
Meditation can help to reduce the harmful effects of noise pollution on the body and the psyche. Through developing a regular meditation practice, we can in fact reduce the harmful effects of stress in general on our bodies and minds.
Go through your home and find sources of ambient noise that you can safely remove from your presence. Turn off your television, shut your windows, and get as far away from your refrigerator and the street as you can. Shut your eyes, and quiet the excessive chatter in your mind. Begin to meditate using the techniques that have been taught to you. Go deeper and deeper into your psyche, as you become aware of and then disregard the few noises that are left around you.
Your first few meditation sessions likely will not last very long. This is normal. As you practice more frequently, you will find that it gets easier and easier to shut out noise for increasingly longer periods of time and truly enjoy the silence of your own mind for the first time in your life.