Posted by: Mae | May 18, 2010

The Value of Quiet

When Mozart was composing at the end of the eighteenth century, the city of Vienna was so quiet that fire alarms could be given verbally, by a shouting watchman mounted on top of St. Stefan’s Cathedral.  In twentieth-century society, the noise level is such that it keeps knocking our bodies out of tune and out of their natural rhythms.  This ever-increasing assault of sound upon our ears, minds, and bodies adds to the stress load of civilized beings trying to live in a highly complex environment.  ~Steven Halpern

When I came across the above quote, written by a musician well-known in the massage community, it really resonated with me. I envisioned this eighteenth century quiet, and immediately felt more peaceful. (Even among the noises of television and dogs whining for attention!) Imagine having such a quiet refuge in which to recharge…It seems that our minds are cluttered with visual stimuli (think email, Facebook, text messaging, television) as well as noise. When do our brains get a rest?

Try it yourself. Ideally, find a quiet place, but try it right now, wherever you are. Imagine you are in Mozart’s Vienna. I’m sure you will encounter some noise, horse drawn carriages, people talking in the street, for example. I imagine it’s much like the peace I feel when I’m camping, and wake up before most everyone else. Just me and perhaps an older couple a few sites over, getting their coffee started. My muscles are relaxed, not clenched. My thoughts are peaceful and grateful.

Now imagine a present-day city. (Or, depending where you are, start to take in your surroundings.) Traffic sounds a lot different now-a-days, doesn’t it? And there are so many more demands for our attention. Even if you don’t have the television or radio on, perhaps a housemate or neighbor does. The population is much more dense, and noises of daily living have increased as well. How does your body feel as you take this all in? Do you feel tension? Where? Your shoulders? Jaw? That spot on your forehead above and between your eyebrows?

Perhaps this little exercise has inspired you to find your own little place of quiet. If you’re lucky, you have a sanctuary in your house or a special place you can go to get away on a regular basis. I like to go camping, hiking, or relaxing in some remote hot springs. And if getting massage is one of your getaways, don’t feel like you must talk with the therapist. Also don’t be afraid to ask for quiet if your therapist tends to be chatty (sometimes we need a gentle reminder), or if you find the music jars your nerves.

While we can’t always control what noise others are making, hopefully we can all find a few moments of quiet in an otherwise overwhelming day.


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