Thursday, 22 September 2016

Is Life Too Loud?


For the past few weeks I have been traveling around the south-western United States, visiting all kinds of places on my way. I gravitate towards wilderness and quiet places, but my travels have also brought me in cities and other places I normally try to stay away from. After traveling from a big city to a cabin in the mountains, I realized how most people really spend most of their lives in the extreme loudness and noise of 'civilization', and how damaging this is to our mental and physical health. I don't know how those of us who live in cities manage to survive, and perhaps we hardly can.

The buzzing of computers and cars, the ticking of clocks, music playing on the radio and in most public places, people talking, mobile phones, and the list goes on.

We think we get used to the noise, and perhaps to some degree we do, but only by blocking off some of the noise that comes in. For most of us that means we shut part of ourselves off in order to escape the busy-ness that is going on all around us, most of the time. And in that process, a lot more gets lost and blocked off than just the excess noise.

The moment you realize this is when you find yourself in a peaceful place, where all you can hear is the chirping of birds and insects, and the occasional rustling of leaves. The mind may protest for a while and continue the rush of anxiety and stress that has often consequently taken over our systems. Some people have gotten so used to the noise and this constant state of almost-panic that they fear the silence, because in that silence they can suddenly hear their loud mind, which has become louder and louder over time in order to be heard and in order to function in the overwhelming, purpose-packed world of effectiveness we have created.

The good news is that we can find peace of mind again by immersing ourselves in nature. Spend some time in the wilderness and allow yourself to do nothing for a while; for as long as you need to. It is so important that we take the time to do this. It is the busy, noisy minds that want to swallow up, categorize and manage the wilderness, filling it up with purpose and efficiency, making it a part of our Loudness and Noisiness while drowning out the cries of the earth, each other and ourselves. But wilderness has its own purpose, that is far more valuable than anything we could create in that space. Space has value. It restores our inner balance. It helps keep our hearts and minds open. It keeps us sensitive to others' needs, including our precious earth. It gives us a direct opportunity to experience peace of mind, and once you know what it is and what it feels like, it is so much easier to integrate that into the rest of our lives.

I am so grateful for wilderness and places that have not been swallowed up by humanity yet, and I hope we can keep (and even expand) those places. These are the places of healing where people and other animals can meet soul-to-soul to restore and replenish their being. Where we can remind ourselves what it feels like to just 'be' instead of being somebody who has so many tasks and things that have to be done.

You may find yourself (almost) deafened by the noise of this world, or you may no longer feel the effects of the system on your mind and body. Whatever may be the case, make sure you take the time to go into the wild regularly, not as another task that has to be completed, but to reconnect with the flow of nature instead of the pace of mankind. Our lives and the survival of our species depends on it.