The sound of silence

FOOD FOR THOUGHT - Chit U. Juan - The Philippine Star

As if social distancing was not enough, another health emergency comes to even more physically separate people closest to us because of the threat of close physical contact. There must be a reason why a virus called monkeypox has to come at a time when we are still reeling from the effects of COVID. If we reflect on the occurences concerning physical and mental health, it also bodes well to think of the spiritual. Maybe it’s time to sit down, be alone and reflect.

A friend posted on Facebook that she is changing jobs. The next day, she got her results that she was COVID positive and now has to isolate. It’s Nature’s way of giving her time and space to be by herself, don’t you think? And almost everyone, even those who just got exposed and continue to test negative, prefer to isolate. It seems isolation is now the recommended practice for spiritual as well as physical health. For mental health, sometimes it is also beneficial to stay away from the noise of everyday life and just listen to yourself think.

I had the chance to spend  moments alone in a faraway villa where there was no noise at all save for crickets at night. It was deafening but also liberating. And this is what we sometimes need – a sound detox. We sometimes are so exposed to noise that we find it odd to be silent. People keep background music on, talk incessantly because they are uncomfortable with silence and some even need “white noise” (the sound of a TV station signed off) to put them to sleep. I like silence.

For those who have to isolate, take it as a lucky break to be away from family and friends with a good excuse. For those affected by a virus, be still and reflect on the reasons why you rolled the dice and happened to get it. And look back, think back to how you could have put your guard down – was it at that meeting, did you overtalk, were you careless and removed your mask?

If you are into journals, start writing. Write down your thoughts or ideas about life, like a mind map. And use a notebook or journal, not your phone. Go back to the classic way of writing down thoughts on paper. It may be another liberating moment. Draw or sketch if you wish. But do take the time to ponder and write down any thought that comes …before it goes.

People have different ways of spending alone time. Here are some ideas in case you need to be alone – whether it is by choice or by force of circumstance:

• Unplug. The most difficult thing to do for someone like me. I am always quick at responding to emails, messages and texts. I will need to explain to friends lest they think I have disappeared forever. Try to remove your phone from your midst. Or simply turn it off.

• Listen to music. It may as well be classical music, soft jazz or your favorite era on Spotify and Apple iTunes. Or bring out your CDs (compact discs) or vinyls and play your favorite music.

• Listen to Nature. You will be amazed at sounds you can hear at night – chirping of birds, sounds of insects or maybe the waves slapping the shore.

• Meditate. If you need assistance, a friend recommended Yoga Nidra on Youtube. You lie still and just close your eyes and listen with your earbuds or headset. And drift off to slumber.

We need to find some other reasons why these viruses are coming. They may be Nature’s way of letting us slow down and change our habits. It may be Nature’s way of fighting back because we have been busy destroying Mother Nature with our 24/7 lifestyle, invasion of forests and pristine waters and destroying her soil, too.

So we are being asked to slow down and take a breather so Nature can also take a breather to repair. Imagine what rest she has had for two years. But it still is not enough. That is why we continue to have more complications – monkeypox, long COVID, natural disasters. I believe Nature needs some more time to put its head above water, to breathe and recharge. Like in a marathon. Or a triathlon. The athlete has to have some time to breathe. In silence.

So let us all help Nature and help ourselves, too. Be silent even for just a week. Be quiet and stay away from the noise pollution we subject ourselves to everyday.

Have you ever been with someone who won’t stop talking? Yes, there are people who cannot stand silence and feel the need to just fill the air with talk, small talk, humming or even breaking into song. You can choose to avoid these people or wear your headsets so they don’t bother you.

This is why sometimes it would be good to visit a church, a chapel or a mosque. Most people are praying inside, but some just want the quiet to sort things out.

The extreme would be to lose your hearing as what happened to a relative of mine. We suspect long COVID to have affected his remaining ear that can hear. He now can only converse using his phone and the Bluetooth technology, plus his hearing aid. This extreme silence also was not good for his mental condition, as he was worried about the consequences of complete hearing loss, and maybe  losing his other faculties due to long COVID. I do not choose to be in his shoes. So I prefer to choose silence. Not be forced into it.

Be quiet. Be still. You will be surprised how the sound detox can refresh you.


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