Finding Quiet Time in a Loud World

Words by Leslie Long

It used to be fairly easy to find a quiet spot to reflect on your own thoughts — on a train, a park bench, at an airport, on an exercise bike at the gym. But with the ubiquity of cell phones, public alone-ness is now hit or miss. It can be hard to revel in cloud formations or muse about the meaning of life while listening to someone cancel a dental appointment, hold a business meeting or check in on a relative who’s hard of hearing. This seems to bother some more than others.

And maybe it’s just a matter of whether you’ve lived with this intrusion your whole life, so you’re used to it.

So where is the quiet hiding? More than ever, it has to be an internal sense rather than a place you go. Yoga classes are a good place to start because the principles taught there can help you create quiet in the world at large. Focusing on your breath and letting go of distractions (like a fish swimming in one ear and out the other, as a wise person once told me) gives you the control. It’s often said that you can’t change the distractions — only your reaction to them.

Meditation techniques can also have a profound effect, whether it’s a twice-daily TM practice or a personal style of counting backwards from 20, there are many techniques that work wonders.

A busy noisy world with more people, more screens, more options for everything may be what’s led to the current obsession with simple modern home design.

Open your door and step into a clean, white world where the furniture is minimal and the only possessions are the ones you love or need can surely contribute to calm. The endless books and videos about de-cluttering are similarly driven to create peace amid the current chaos, electronic and otherwise. A well-edited closet or kitchen is surely a joy to behold. Spend the time to get there and the rewards keep coming.

Things that take time or involve steps urge us to slow down. Whether it’s a DIY furniture project that includes several rounds of stripping, sanding and painting or cooking a dish that has many ingredients and parts to completion, slower activities do put on the brakes. And there are rewards at the end as you enjoy that refinished table or sit down to a stew or soup with the depth that only time can add.

With its time-bending properties, cannabis fits into the lives of many seeking quiet. Like enjoying wine, a drink or even a cup of fragrant tea, a little outside help is often welcome.

So the world goes on. The TV screams at you 24 hours a day and so do a lot of other things. Unless you’re outside staring at the sky before dawn (and try this

— it’s the one time the world can feel like it’s all yours) or you’re able to regularly visit remoteness in nature, finding quiet is now your personal task because it’s not going to find you. But when you do find it, it’s a vast and wonderful thing.