We live in an increasingly noisy world, one where finding peace and quiet is increasingly difficult. Some of that noise is the kind we choose as the soundtrack of our lives. Some is the stuff we can’t seem to avoid. And some is the so-called white noise we no longer even notice. All of it can enhance or degrade our lives in ways we might not stop to consider. Is it time to reassess the noise level in YOUR life?

This week on The Living Experiment, we’re talking about Noise — its many sources, its surprising impacts, and the options we have for relating to it more consciously.

From the difficulty of escaping noise in our modern environments to the effect it can have on our health, happiness, and quality of life, we talk about the underestimated toll that noise can take on our bodies and minds.

We explore the important role quiet spaces have in supporting our wellbeing, and the opportunities we have for regulating the noise in our midst.

Finally, we offer you some experiments to help you make more discerning choices about the kinds of noise you choose to tolerate — or eliminate — in your own world. 

“Noise” Episode Highlights

  • Pilar shares her impression that our tolerance for noise has increased as the result of our constant exposure to it — at a cost
  • The problem of background noise, layered noise, and more — how it dulls our sensitivity and adds to our stress burden
  • Dallas talks about his experience using a sensory deprivation chamber
  • How noise contributes to chronic low-level stress and fatigue
  • The distracting impacts of noise on cognitively demanding tasks in the workplace
  • Mitigating noise in your environments
  • What’s actually going on in your brain when it’s not being overstimulated; the power of the Default Mode Network (DMN)
  • Finding margins of silence in our day, and the reparative effect that can have on our lives
Each day for a week, set a timer for five minutes, and sit in silence. Eliminate all of the sources of noise that you can find, and just sit. Use the time to meditate or just sit in silence. See what happens — are you uncomfortable? Bored? Annoyed? Notice how you feel, what happens to your breathing, what mental chatter emerges, if you get anxious, what your experience is.

Consider embarking on on a “sound diet.” Eliminate optional sound (whether music, media, podcasts, chatter, or phone conversation) from one or more experiences where you’d usually include it (such as exercise, commute, bathing, shopping, work, errands, housework, or entertainment). Take off your headphones. Turn off the radio or TV, your playlists. Turn off things that buzz and beep. Make the conscious choice to limit or eliminate your intake of sound as you go about your life, and notice what the experience is like. If you share space with someone else and this presents an issue for them, have a conversation about it.

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