When I used to travel for work, there would come a time in every trip when I would crave the solitude of my hotel room. Where I would crave the silence of listening to quiet music or simply sitting in silence. Eventually, though, even that wouldn’t be enough.
I found that after a while…especially during stints of extended travel…the quiet of a hotel room no longer offered the reprieve I was seeking. It didn’t matter if I was sitting in complete silence or not, because at that point, the noise had moved within.
The only cure would be the quiet solitude of my home. Often I had just a few short days to recharge but it would be enough. I’d move silently through my house. No music…no TV…no sounds to disturb the peace I felt being home. Eventually I realized this silence was much like the feeling I experienced on my yoga mat.
When I would walk into a yoga room and shut the door behind me, I would shut out not only the noise from the studio but the noise of my world. Whether external or internal noise, it didn’t matter. That studio door…that mat…it was like the best noise canceling headphones ever.
It was that feeling I was eventually able to extend to my home. To know that no matter what is happening in your life…however crazy the crazy…that you can find a way to unplug and recharge simply by being home…now that’s powerful.
I took that power for granted. Assuming that no matter what I invited into my home, that inner peace would always be a flip of the switch away. But that’s not the case anymore. In it’s place is a bellowing cat. Two dogs that love to play. A husband that makes sounds only a man can make. And that’s just a daily thing…sometimes I invite friends over to bring their own special kind of noise.
The problem is, all this external noise is creating internal noise. Noise that I’m having trouble escaping. The internal noise is comprised of all the to dos. All the people that need something…because I’ve committed to do something. Noise from an ego that felt so guilty for having time on her hands that she took on too much and turned her quiet, tranquil world into a bustling landscape of expectation and responsibility.
Today I decided I needed to escape the noise of my home and headed to a coffee shop to listen to videos for my eating psychology program. I realize that coffee shops have their own set of unique noises but I’ve always thought of those sounds as white noise. Besides, I’d have on headphones so I could listen to the lectures.
I was wrong. The coffee shop was louder than I remembered. Nearly every table was filled with people chatting…loudly. There was so much noise that turning the volume on my computer did little to drown out the noise…it just created another layer on top.
Before long I found myself longing for a bigger escape. An escape to nature…away from the manufactured noises of civilization…people talking…music…pets. I could feel how desperately I was seeking the type of quiet that makes your ears ring because there’s nothing to distract you from the nothing.
I know that this desire is more a reflection of the chaos I’m feeling inside…of the internal noise I’ve created or allowed to enter…than any noise existing outside of me. I know this because I can feel it…and the urge to escape is confirmation that I’ve created my own level of disturbance.
So the challenge is to figure out how to find peace despite the noise around me. To quiet the voices…the lists of to dos…the obligations. I’ve faced this battle before and won. I thing it might be time to try and win the war.