I am developing a new and challenging habit … to sit in silence; or at the very least, not have the radio on as I potter about my flat. This is unusual behaviour for me because I’ve always hated silence, always needed noise to fill the void; and that sound has invariably been the radio, or whichever album I’m currently in love with. Yet in recent months, I have started to switch everything off and just be with the sounds around me. Not a problem when those are birds singing or neighbours coming and going, but more challenging when my fridge starts ‘snoring’, which it does for about fifteen minutes every hour of the day; I was told it’s the gas. However, I have persevered and am writing this in relative silence – the oven is cooling down from dinner (homemade ratatouille; not bad if I do say so myself) – and my studies over the last year have also often been accompanied by silence.
So why the self-imposed change in habit? Primarily it’s because of work. I’m a teacher, and my desk is in the middle of a large, open-plan office, so it’s difficult to get quiet time during the day. Then there’s the commute to and from work and the gym, which I frequently do with headphones on, often to drown out unwanted noise. When I swim, I’m in a little cocoon of googles and swim hat; just me, my thoughts and the water, bliss!
It’s still a challenge sometimes, to be with whatever reaches my ears from the world around me, (especially when it’s my neighbour’s TV as it is now while I’m typing this) but I’m learning to welcome silence into my life, and my brain often thanks me for it because everything quietens down, not just on the outside but the inside too; and that is a relief for someone whose mind rarely stops chattering! I even prefer to meditate in silence now, and try to time it when little aural stimulation is likely.
The one time I struggle to be without the radio is when I go to sleep; I still need a little background murmur to help me drop off, especially when I can hear the TV from above or below my flat. However, I will continue to make the most of the silence as and when I can.
I hope you can find a moment of peace today and enjoy the silence.