Updated: Oct 28, 2020
Noise is an unavoidable component of modern society. Everywhere you turn, there is some type of sound pollution.
It comes in many ways too, from colorful advertisement and honking traffic to the upstairs neighbors blasting loud music of their choice -never your favorite style, of course.
It almost seems as if peace was unattainable, but it's not.
Peace and silence are essential to our wellbeing. A constantly running-on-high nervous system will eventually collapse, manifesting mental or physical illness. Even the best-performing CEOs and entrepreneurs know they have to dedicate time to unwinding. This way, they can start the day with a fresh mind, full of ideas. Peace is a non-negotiable asset, even when it comes to making money.
So, considering our naturally noisy environment, how can one find peace? Does it take renouncing all worldly affairs or moving out to a silent cave in the Himalayas? It doesn't sound too practical.
The answer is you don't need to do any of this! Following, you'll find methods I've used with success in the last twenty years working for Corporate America. Please share your experience in the comment section if you play with any of these.
1. STOP MULTI-TASKING
Studies suggest multi-tasking massively diminishes your ability to execute any given task with precision.
One study from Stanford University separated people into two control groups. One with notorious multi-taskers who thought the practice boosted their productivity, and a second group focused on performing one task at a time.
The study found that the multi-taskers had a significantly more difficult time scoring on the exercises presented, which involved memory and concentration. Somehow, they were constantly distracted by irrelevant information they were unable to sort out. The low multi-taskers, on the other hand, scored high on the exercises.
This study suggests you might be paying a mental price when multi-tasking. And while it's tempting to do several things at a time, the end product is of better quality when you give it your full attention.
Another benefit of being present in the moment is keeping more of your mental and physical energy. I confirm this every time I remain mindful for that day. As I finish my workday -which could be late at night- I feel fresh and energized, ready to unwind.
This state is substantially different from when I multi-task like a madwoman, being taken over by thinking and worrying. On days like this, I end up feeling exhausted and drained.
The Fix: Focus on one task at a time
Unless necessary, commit to focusing on only one task. Resist the impulse to take on more things before you finish the one you have at hand.
If something urgent comes up and you must, without question, switch tasks, make sure you put the last chore to the side, putting your full attention on this new job. Once finished, you can go back to the previous one.
This might require some practice at first, but the reward is so worth it! When you get used to doing things this way, you will not want to go back to your old operating ways.
2. LEARN TO MEDITATE
There is no such thing as "peace of mind."
The mind is intrinsically noisy, and when you're thinking, you're employing mechanisms that oppose calmness and intuition. So, regardless of the content of thought, the thinking process is noisy by nature.
The purpose of meditation is to clear the mind entirely. As you transition from the active thinker into a witness of thought, you start noticing thought gaps, which bring unexplained, short jolts of bliss into your daily life.
The Fix: Establish a habit of daily meditation
There are as many ways to meditate as there are minds.
Experiment with different styles, playing with each for three days, then for three months. As soon as you find one that resonates, stay with it for some time.
I'll be making videos with meditation instruction for beginners soon. Stay tuned if you're interested in those.
3. START JOURNALING
The power of journaling has long been established.
There is a therapeutical process that gets unleashed when you transfer your worries onto the paper. When you're are done, you get up feeling relieved and unloaded. Ready to take on the challenges of the day.
The Fix: Buy a journal and use it every day
One powerful application of journaling is using it first thing in the morning. Do the following:
Before falling asleep, spend some time intently thinking about a particular issue that is worrying you. Do it not to upset yourself, but to load your subconscious mind with all the details of the matter in question (this is data).
Upon waking up, try to record your dreams. Keep a notebook and pen to use for this exercise by your bed.
Get up and start journaling about anything that comes to mind. It doesn't have to make sense nor be grammatically perfect. A stream of consciousness type of writing is fine. You will find that the answer to your query comes up in the paper at some unexpected point. If it doesn't yet, keep doing this exercise for a few more nights until it does.
The mystery of why this works relies on your subconscious mind. You are programmed for your mind to connect to the answer or establish new neuropathways to find solutions to the problem.
Because this process occurs at the subconscious level, a period of sleep in between is necessary for it to happen.
4. TRY YOGA
Yoga has exploded in popularity. Everyone's talking about it, and even your dog loves it.
But what are the real benefits of Yoga, and are all types beneficial?
I'd have to dedicate a whole lengthy article to the matter, but for the sake of this piece, allow me to tell you what Yoga is not:
It is not just exercise, though it carries significant physical health benefits.
Adding the word "yoga" to wine, goat, and tantrum doesn't make it Yoga -the millenary science.
You don't need to renounce your religion to practice it. Yoga is non-sectarian. It is a beneficial science and communion with what you understand as Divine Spirit.
It isn't easy, just because it seems so. It is a precise practice, with many complexities to it. The good news is, the deeper you dive into it, the more you gain.
Now that we've gotten that out of the way let's talk about what Yoga is, plus some benefits:
It's a millenary science, born in India, at least 5,000 years ago.
It provides you with a sense of tranquility -even if you are a beginner- both during practice and after.
In time, it gives you elasticity and strength as you progress through the practice.
It reinforces your immune system, eliminating the recurrence of common ailments, and in many cases, more complex ones.
It prepares your body to receive more robust spiritual experiences by re-arranging your energies into a, so to speak, positively conductive circuit.
The teaching goes beyond the postures -called asanas- by offering you a wholesome system of wisdom and healing.
It is crucial you find the right style of Yoga for you, and even more, the right teacher. As a general rule, you want to go with an instructor who pushes you gently. One whose wisdom and personality resonate with you.
I remember being in a Yoga class when I was 20 years old. My instructor was this 25-year-old looking guy who looked 12. He had dark, playful hair and deep black eyes.
As we began the practice, I found myself questioning the validity of this youngster in a Yogi role. But boy, was I in for a surprise.
As we started the Sun Salutations, I immediately felt myself falling into a pleasant flow. The love that emanated from this boy was palpable in how he spoke and how he touched students softly, pushing them into the correct version of the asana.
I found myself going into poses I had only dreamed of doing before, and when we all lay on the floor for the end of the session, I felt something I had never experienced before.
As my body lay motionless in Shavasana or "corpse pose," I felt this sweetly intense, almost burning, exploding sensation arising. It was a bliss I had never savored before -something I could barely put into words...
At that moment, I felt that everything was perfect in my life and that it could stay that way regardless of the circumstances if I wanted it to. My only point of reference for it was being in love. And so I thought: this is better than Greg! -my romantic obsession at the time. It was marvelous.
Unfortunately, I lost track of the boy Yogi, and two decades later, he's still one of only three that have wowed me as instructors. So much for judging a book by its cover, huh.
Now, most Yoga studios will suffice if you want to explore the practice locally. But if you're ready to study the science in its fullness and glory, I recommend the Isha Yoga Center.
By far, theirs are the most potent and transformational of all practices I've experienced, and the quality of their programs is precious. Also, its founder's wisdom, the realized Yogi Sadhguru, adds significant specialness to the picture.
They have centers in Tennessee, USA, and India.
5. PRACTICE MINDFULNESS AND SURRENDER
These two deserve their chapter, and I will write about them in-depth soon. But I couldn't speak of soothing your mind and creating jolts of spontaneous joy without mentioning them here.
These two deserve their chapter, and I will write about them in-depth soon. But I couldn't speak of soothing your nervous system, creating jolts of spontaneous joy without mentioning them here.
So, what are these things, exactly? Before you judge them with labels of strange metaphysics, let's consider the fact that most of Earth's population suffers from chronic unhappiness.
We now know outside circumstances can only provide an elusive, temporary joy, and yet, we keep holding on to fleeting moments of pleasure, mistaking them for the real thing.
We are also taught that happiness equals pleasant thoughts. However, nothing could be further from the truth.
The daily practice of Mindfulness and Surrender are life-changing because they teach you how to liberate yourself from a debilitating attachment to being in control.
They are keys to lasting joy and minimally, to a much more peaceful existence. A key to finding peace in an unavoidable noisy world.