In solitude, great work is produced. May it be an invention, a book, a painting or a choreography. Man, made in the image and likeness of God, works marvellously when alone and away from distracting noise.
Inventions were made in solitude.
Playwrights have immortalized plays after working alone on scripts.
And composers made a name for themselves as they listened carefully.
Every now and then, a need to tap in that personal space arises. A silent environment helps to meet it. And to achieve solitude, let us begin by knowing what noise is.
Noise is any audible frequency, that disrupts your concentration, retracts you from your focus and whichever that gives you utmost disturbance. In that sense, responses to it are quite subjective. That being said, how we perceive noise depends on our individuality’s personal preference of what he wants to hear or not. In this regard, we could say, anything that we consider noise, at a very specific moment, is unwanted.
So many explanations surround the idea of noise. But to keep it simple, let’s just consider 2 kinds.
2 KINDS OF NOISE I ENCOURAGE YOU TO LOOK AT:
The kind of noise that comes from stimuli surrounding us. (e.g. Physical noise in the form of others talking in the background while you and your companion are having a conversation, noise from the busy streets, buzzing of machineries). Since its source is from outer forces, external noise often is beyond our control.
The kind that doesn’t put us to sleep (i.e. guilt, conscience, anger, stress, anxiety, expectation). Internal noise may be controlled if we choose to do so.
And that’s what drove me to write this post.
HOW IT GOT IGNITED
At my daughter’s Sunday school, mentors scheduled us parents to hear about how to avoid digital noise in our homes. Basically, it talked about how the new technologies and the internet undeniably takes over our daily lives instead of the other way around. Despite its known advantages, we get led to these new technologies’ noisy path and get lost into the internet ourselves.
Discussion about how to approach the fast rising need for guidance because of how fast technology evolves ran through. To begin with, the mentor asked us to examine what we consider as noise through these questions that I would like to share to you today.
How can I describe, in my own words, why the discipline of silence is necessary for spiritual growth?
How much unnecessary audible noise is there in my life? Where does it come from?
How much unnecessary visual noise is there in my life? Where does it come from?
How much unnecessary busy-ness is there in my life? Where does it come from?
Media-based entertainment/relaxation–what role does it play in my life? What role ‘should’ it play?
Social-networking–what role does it play in my life? What role ‘should’ it play?
How good of a listener am I? How would my family members, coworkers, and friends answer that question?
What one thing could I do this week to become a better listener?
How firmly do I believe that the happiness I seek is to be found by listening and responding to the voice of God, as Jesus put it: “Rather, blessed are those who hear the word of God and observe it” (Luke 11:28)
What three lifestyle choices can I make this month to reduce unnecessary noise in my life?
Silence is the doorkeeper of the interior life.” – St. Josemaria Escriva
Internally, a lingering itch to go on social media or dating app is continuously controlling your solitary time. While we know that being alone allows us to think, reflect and reassess our thoughts, we have a great tendency to be succumbed by the 3e’s that we get from the internet: eats, entertainment and the most sought after, an escape.
As parents, we hold greater responsibility in allowing ourselves to engage in these very addictive gadgets.
To help you see clearer, here are some bad habits that had evolved during the digital era:
- engaging on our mobile phones more often than before
- going online and wanting to let your Facebook friend know that you liked their recent activity or story become a priority than being 100% present with the people you’re actually with in person.
- being too competitive of posting the dinner you had, the country you recently visited or flaunting a superficial friendship with a certain celebrity just so you’ll gain followers.
- living a pretentious grandiose of a life when in person, you live so thriftily that you only go out on Ladies’ night for the free drinks and the pica-pica (ew!).
- getting swayed by anything online: new trends, browsing endlessly and the ads.
Influencers has the tendency to compete who gets to post first about a thing, a place or an event that they could create an audience from. Somehow, it becomes noisy when you end up adapting to this certain influencer. Unconsciously, you pattern yourself to how they are to be called “in” or “cool”. And because your friends couldn’t help but talk about it, you get engulfed by the trend and suddenly, you feel like you need to be aligned to all.
Envy, the worst kind of internal noise. It is incurable. So, if this could have made an appeal to you, what more to your teenager, your young ones who don’t know how to filter or put a halt on such engagements? It could be self-conflicting. Which could lead to a lot of psychological affectations.
Let’s take NETFLIX for an example. With so many movies to choose from, you somehow scroll endlessly on many films. Not realizing, you have been doing so for half an hour already. And the most painful part, that half hour had just passed you by. It’s not sinking in? How does “you’ll never get that 30 minutes back ever!” sounds like? Yes, that’s pretty bad. Actually, worse than ‘procrastination‘.
But this falls under the last bad habit of getting swayed by the internet. It takes time away from your family, your kids. So it’s important to reflect on this.
The most dangerous noise! It lures you, tempts you and haunts you. ‘Nuff said!
HOW CAN WE AVOID GETTING SUCCUMBED BY SUCH A NOISY WORLD?
Just like how we would advice our kids to limit usage of the gadgets, we as adults may extend such efforts by observing ways on how to practice the Discipline of Silence through personal reflection.
You already made the first step which was going through the questions as stated above.
This is a practice that may take time than the usual. May I suggest to answer them in solitude and silence. Perhaps, when you’re alone. Or if it’s not possible because of the three kids you have, do find the time that works for you. I know you’ll condemn me if I say, do it every morning, while your family is still asleep to indulge in that quiet time. It’s up to you how you make time for it. A great motivation in the morning could help you stay energised as you start your day all the way to finishing it by tucking your kids at night. Because it could help you see clearly what your priorities should be, then work around that schedule.
This happens to me when I do my meditation early in the morning. 10 minutes to start my day. The words resonate. Try and you’ll see.
Next is maybe you could have a gadget free day every week.
Or a straight 24-hour period (including sleeping hours) of no internet, email or binge-watching just to stay in touch with other activities that you have longed to do. Read the book you have wanted to read. Or spend time decluttering with your family.
Schedule a day out with your family to encourage them to engage in real social play.
Real… meaning in person. I had to put emphasis on that because there are interactive games and social games online already. But it’s never going to be the same. Nothing beats running around a field or playing soccer with your kids. And having a picnic in the gardens. This way, you make good memories and they would appreciate how you had given them the most important commodity, time.
I believe I had just given you my answers to the last item in the list of questions. Share yours and for sure, I would learn a thing or two.
Hoping to hear from you guys!