Advertisement

Mindfulness Matters

Mindfulness Matters

Quietude Lost

Tim Krieder wrote an opinion in a recent New York Times Sunday Review (17 November 2012) called the Quiet Ones about the Quiet Car on Amtrack. His observations are prescient. We have lost quiet in our world and we have also lost the civility that supports quiet.

He notes how one individual puts her phone to her ear as soon as she sits down on the train as if she were “unable to bear an undistracted instant in her own company.” What happens to us when we have no place of quiet in our lives? No place where we are unplugged from our connective technology, no place where our minds stop going in the ways they are accustomed to going?

Advertisement

Krieder laments, “Respecting shared public space is becoming as quaintly archaic as tipping your hat to a lady, now that the concept of public space is as nearly extinct as hats, and ladies.” The problem has troubling roots in changes in society that may be born of this connective technology. “I suspect in part because people now spend so much time in the solipsist’s paradise of the Internet that they carry its illusion of invisible (and inaudible) omniscience back with them out into the real world.”

I observe this in the movie theater sometimes. It appears that people think they are in their living room watching a DVD, oblivious to the impact they are having on others. I think he is right, solipsism (that is, self-preoccupation) is the culprit.

Advertisement

How can mindfulness help? It is interesting that there is a growing counter-trend to noise pollution in the mindfulness “revolution”. There is, perhaps, a growing hunger for some place of quiet–without and within.

I see the “holy trinity” of mindfulness as silence-containment-engagement. It helps to bring some sense of silence into our lives. It helps to contain emotional and appetitive impulses while at the same time engaging us more with what we are doing.

Mindfulness meditation creates a relative quiet. We have a quiescence of activity. We are just sitting or just walking slowly. For a few minutes, we give up the noisiness, bustle, and commotion of doing things.

Advertisement

Of course, we can have this activity quiescence while our minds keep chattering away, talking, planning, opinionating. Yet, we can also have the opportunity for moments of quiet. The mind shuts up. Goes silent. Stops, even if just for a second. When that quiet was complete, a previously unexperienced world of experience is revealed. The Buddha called this nirvana.

Quiet is relative and selective. We hear sounds of nature, sounds of our bodies and might include these in “quiet.” What is considered bothersome noise for one is not for another. What is noise for you? For me, television noise is most distracting.

Absolute silence is never happening unless we are in a sound-absorbing room. There is a lab in Minnesota that has an Anechoic Chamber–the quietest room in the world. Apparenlty the silence is so intense no one has been able to stay inside of it for more than forty-five minutes. We are used to some sounds, many sounds, and now without any sense of quietude in our lives, I can readily imagine how being in this room of resolute silence can be disturbing. I’d like to try it.

Advertisement

Silence and quiet are values. It does not appear that they are cultural norms. We have the “uncomfortable silence” instead of the “welcome silence.” We are generally oblivious to how loud we and our environment s are. I wonder why people talk louder when they are on their cell phones than if they were talking to the person walking next to them. Every day I hear people having loud conversations on their phones as they walk down the street. Actually, I only hear one half of the conversation. I admit that on occasion, I will walk and talk on my phone. When I do, I am mindful of my volume. In part to be courteous and in part to be private–I don’t really want people hearing my half of any conversation.

Mindfulness suggests the possibility and the skill that we can bear undistracted instances of our own company. We can allow things to become quiet in the relative way that they can be. We can investigate quiet, feel the richness of silence–touch its texture with attention. We can give ourselves the okay to investigate the quality of now with whatever sounds are present.

Advertisement

It is possible to meditate in a quiet, secluded meditation hall and in the midst of a crowded railway car. We are always investigating the landscape of now with openness, interest, and curiosity. Yet, it might be a revelation to bring some silence into your life by segregating yourself from cacophony for some extended time at a meditation retreat. When you return you might be able to find silence in the midst of bustle, noise, and the ceaseless doings of life.

  • http://Facebook.com Shukla Kar

    As I was reading your article, I felt that it is thought-provoking and to some extend mind-blowing too. Truthfully, we are in a world with unsurpassed population problem, hectic life-style, and of course in the era of smart phone. On the top of that most of us are loosing their moral obligation to other’s comforts and plain civility. My attitude is, if I cannot change the world, I change myself for better or worse, and that’s the only way to survive. To me, feeling peaceful is a daily practice by simply ignoring outside world and contemplate within ourselves. You might be surprised how well it will work for you.

Previous Posts

Accessibility and the Precious
I had an interesting dream image last night. I was observing a fantastic display of the aurora borealis--Northern lights (or it might have ...

posted 9:14:31am Jan. 31, 2016 | read full post »

2016 Well Underway: Resolutions, Intentions, and Projects
We are well into 2016 and I've been taking something of a hiatus from social media and this blog. I've been reflecting a lot on my life and resolutions, intentions, and projects for 2016 and beyond. I'm not a big fan of resolutions. Like ...

posted 2:33:29pm Jan. 24, 2016 | read full post »

2015: The Year in Review
Greetings everyone! It's been a busy 2015 and I'd like to share with you some of the highlights and give you links to the some of the contents I produced over this year. There is lot's more to come in 2016 and I appreciate everyone's support. I ...

posted 7:53:24am Dec. 21, 2015 | read full post »

Bodhi Day 2015
In honor of Bodhi Day, I wrote a reflection on the Seven Factors of Awakening, which are based on the Four Foundations of Mindfulness. You can read about these on the main Beliefnet site. I hope this contemplation on awakening helps to move you ...

posted 9:41:04am Dec. 09, 2015 | read full post »

Thanksgiving 2015
If you've read my posts about Thanksgiving before, you know my basic premise is that we should be thankful everyday, not just this day. In fact, we could be thankful in every moment we are alive. Each moment that we are not, we are missing an ...

posted 9:01:46am Nov. 26, 2015 | read full post »

Advertisement


Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.