Quieting the noise in our lives can seem very abstract. What type of noise? Where do we look first?
With so many dimensions to our lives, it helps to narrow down areas of noise. These areas of noise lie within 4 energy modalities: mental, spiritual, emotional, and physical.
Poor physical health is a major source of noise for most people. It is also one of the greatest opportunities to extend the years of our lives and the life in our years.
The challenge is overcoming the friction to get going! This sounds obvious, but if your health does not become a priority, all other areas of our lives will suffer. Start by making movement non-discretionary. Much like brushing your teeth or taking a shower, don’t leave physical fitness to chance.
One method that helped me to get started is to use nudges (i.e., the smallest measurable step towards your goal). A 15-minute walk twice a week is an effective nudge, then add some resistance training once or twice a week. Incremental wins are key.
When we’re not present in what we’re doing, we’re mind wandering. Research from Dr. Matt Killingsworth, professor at Harvard, estimates that we mind wander on average 47% of the time and when we do, our thoughts are typically negative. Pure noise.
In order to mind wander less, we need to be mindful when we start to drift. Meditation sessions are the repetitions we need to train our brain to notice when this drifting begins. It’s not more complicated than that. We don’t need to become expert meditators, we just need to notice a little quicker day after day.
An effective way for me to nurture my mind and quiet the noise is meditation. Start with a 10-minute meditation in the morning. Sam Harris’ Waking Up app is a very accessible introduction to meditation that I recommend to all my peers!
Contrary to the belief that spirituality only conjures up religious connotations, spirituality is about connection: connection to ourselves, our families, and our environment.
Noise in this area stems from a feeling of disconnection. We feel out of sorts. Not aligned with who we want to be. It could be the mask we put on to make others like us, or a suffocating need to materially succeed driven by our ego.
This noise in this area runs deep. It’s not as easy to pinpoint or solve as the physical realm. We need to start by showing ourselves some self-compassion and trusting that we are enough. We can then look at areas of disconnection creating noise in our lives more objectively, and then do one small thing to nudge them in a different direction.
Dr. Robert Waldinger, Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, pointed out in a recent Ted Talk that the greatest predictor of longevity was the quality of our relationships.
Emotional noise via our relationships is like having a burning ember deep inside us. The longer it’s allowed to fester the more damage it does.
In his seminal work, Living Untethered, Michael Singer encourages us to (if we’re ready) give old wounds the time and space to heal and allow these damaging energies to pass. Only then can the noise truly be quelled. This is a very personal conversation that will happen at your own pace, so provide yourself the space to choose when the time is right.
And when in doubt…
Pause. Breathe, And Quiet the NOISE.