Noise. Just the word can up-level your stress – yet interestingly, silence can have the same effect.
It’s not what’s happening on the outside of your head that’s creating the problem – it’s the endless swirl of thoughts inside.
The noise, or lack of it, simply complicates your thinking process and adds to your feeling of overwhelm.
It doesn’t have to be that way.
You can use the sounds that surround you (even when there appear not to be any) to calm your body and mind.
It’s like having a personal meditation space with you wherever you are – and tapping in to it for a mere 60 seconds can have lasting effects.
Like all mindfulness activities, this one is designed to pull you away from your thoughts (which are likely jumping between the past and the future) and into the present moment. The easiest way to do this is to intentionally experience something sensory. Your senses are always picking up on what is present and real.
Use your ears to find respite from your thoughts...
- You can do this absolutely anywhere that is safe to pause for 60 seconds. (Meaning yes to doing it in a car but no to while you’re driving.)
- Close your eyes if you’re in a place that it’s comfortable to do so, if not simply fix your gaze slightly downward.
- Begin by noticing your own breathing. You don’t need to do anything with your breath, just notice that it’s there. Notice where it feels most obvious (usually the nostrils, the lungs or the belly). Just notice your breathing for a few cycles in and out.
- Now direct your attention to the sounds around you. If there is music or language, try to experience it without assigning any meaning – just listen to the sounds you hear for their own sake, independent of their significance.
- Notice all of the sound – try to reach out to the very edges of it.
- Now focus. Zero in on one specific sound – allow it to come forward, try to hear every element of that particular sound.
- You can zoom in and out in this way as many times as you like. (I recommend at least three.)
- When you’re ready, direct your attention back to your breath for a few seconds.
Notice the way you feel at the end of this 60 second respite.