Noise is Everywhere! 4 tips for auditory overload.
I notice sound.
I have always noticed sounds.
Therefore, I believe, sound naturally surrounds me. From mantle clocks I was placed under as an infant, to peacocks running wild and squawking around my childhood home. To choices I’ve made in my life that have included sounds such as living under a flight path for LAX or by a freeway. Sound is always with me.
Even when I have the well thought out intention to avoid noise, it finds me. For example, in my current suite of offices, I intentionally chose the office on the exterior wall to avoid noise from adjacent offices. Only to find out the shared wall was no match to the slamming door of the office below me. It can slam anywhere from 10-40 times during one client’s session hour. Even with maintenance “fixing” the problem.
We live in a world surrounded by noise. Trees whistling as the wind blows through them, a neighbor’s dog barking as it walks by our apartment, or the sound of cars driving up and down the streets we live on.
With noise, we have a tendency to label it as good or bad. Pleasant or unpleasant. Soothing or irritating.
We navigate our day taking in thousands of auditory impulses. How many sounds do you notice and register as you walk into your kitchen? Drive to work? Go out to dinner with friends? Do you notice the sharp sounds more than the subdued? The sound of a child over that of an elderly person? A whisper over a scream? A meow over a bark?
We learn to filter and ignore sounds that land in a place inside that feels uncomfortable. In fact, our filtering systems can become so well organized, many people who live in urban areas report not hearing the sounds of sirens or cars honking. Sometimes, if they do notice, it’s can often be an opposite response to sound, or the lack of noise. Where are all the cars? It seems too quiet. The lack of sound may stir a different kind of awakening inside. An anxiety.
As I write this piece I am aware of the loud garbage truck on my street, switching gears as it loads another trash container. My body tenses and becomes alert with each firing of a nail gun, another necessary sound as my husband works on our family room renovation. As those sounds lessen I hear my drapes rustle, it’s a windy day. Beyond the window I hear two familiar “pleasant” sounds, hummingbirds and wind chimes. All the while in the background my coo-coo clock has kept beat with the familiar tone of “tic tock, tick tock.”
The sounds that surround us may also soothe us. Noise can bring us familiarity, regularity, and comfort. We learn which sounds to crave and which to despise.
HELP! Noise Is closing in on Me...
The next time you notice a sound that feels dysregulating in your body try these mindful steps:
Take 3 deep breaths. Inhale through your nose and exhale out your mouth. Continue breathing at your own natural rhythm.
Notice the sound. Listen to the qualities of the “noise” you are hearing without labeling it as bad or good. Continue this for 1-2 minutes. Just notice.
Expand your senses to include other sounds beside the one you have been focusing on. (I hear the construction outside my home. I hear the construction. I hear the construction and the dog barking across the street. I also hear the water running as my partner washes her hands. Oh and there’s an airplane overhead.)
Continue to breathe and notice. Add in other sensory experiences. What do I smell? What can I touch? What do I see? What can I taste?
As we incorporate deeper levels of experiencing to our initial irritation, our awareness expands. We are able to take in more of our surroundings with loving acceptance, leaving behind the rigidity of wanting our surroundings to be just so.
Sound can also be used as a meditative quality where we focus on “what is” with us right here in the moment. We can allow sound to be a focal point allowing us to move away from our conditioned thinking, allowing our minds to take a rest.
I would love to hear your experience with “noise.” Is it a friend of a foe? Do certain noises bring you comfort and others discomfort or irritation?
xo ~ Dr. Trish.
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