The Lost Art of Stillness in a Noisy World

Businessman Like An OstrichBeing still is not an art form that’s taught in modern day America. We are taught that time is swift and movement is growth and everything in between. And so, we are always in motion.
Even worse, we mistake this motion for progress.
(Sometimes it is, but often it’s not).
We are over-stimulated, busy beings. And even in our quiet moments, we are bombarded with distractions: text messages, e-mails, social media notifications, and alerts from the numerous apps we have on our smart phones.

Communication has become so easy that it’s no longer communication.
It’s just Noise.

And the great irony is that we are connecting far less than we have before.
Sure, we are connected on the surface, technologically. We all know what’s going on in each other’s lives; because knowing is as simple as signing onto Facebook to see that Johnny got engaged and Angela had a baby and Sarah loves life today. So we respond with a few congratulatory words over the black abyss of the interweb and consider our job done.

What have we really created here?

A society of lonely, under-connected people. (soul-to-soul connection)
A society where we overcompensate by ramping up the amount of stimuli that we throw at each other, disguised as communication, in hopes that something will stick. And we sometimes do this with no regard for whether the message or timing is appropriate – because, after all, a text, for example, can be ignored, can’t it?
Well, maybe. It’s certainly less demanding than face-to-face interactions, but we still expect a response, do we not? And a response in a somewhat time-sensitive fashion. And we are aware, even if subconsciously, that the person who is receiving the message will need to stop whatever they are doing to read it and respond.

So why then, are we so careless with the ways in which we electronically communicate with each other?

When viewed in those terms, what we’ve really created is a society where it has become socially acceptable to break boundaries.

Now, I’m not anti-technology when it comes to communication. I recognize that technology allows us to more fluidly keep in touch with loved ones who live far away. It allows flexibility with where, when, and how we can make a living. Modern day technology is the reason that we have this vast amount of freedom at our fingertips. (And it’s pretty awesome.)

What I am saying, however, is that we should be more deliberate with our utilization of technology. We should be more deliberate in the types of messages we arbitrarily send to those we care about. We should be more deliberate in recognizing that, sometimes, the things we feel compelled to share not only bring little value to those that we are sending them to, but can be quite draining when received in large amounts. In these instances, they are purely for our own sake; we want to be heard
(“The guy working at Avis is completely incompetent. Ah!”)
(“This sandwich I just ate made me feel bloated.”)

Being heard is important. Being heard is humanity. But with so much chatter around us, sometimes it’s hard to hear anything at all.

Maybe you can’t relate to the above. If so, disregard it; put it in your mental trashcan with all of the other irrelevant information from the day.
What does apply to you (because it applies to everyone in modern society) is that we are deficient of stillness.
We are so deficient that most of us don’t even know how to be still.
(Stillness? What the heck does that even mean.)

But I can say this: with stillness comes clarity.
We need it. Big time. And with so much information constantly coming our way, we aren’t going to find stillness unless we actively carve out time to attain it. To disconnect. To recognize what belongs to us, internally, and what belongs to others.

It’s hard. Technology is who we are.
(It’s what binds us and separates us at the same time.)
Yet think of all of the great ideas you’ve had in your life. They probably came to you when you were in the zone – undistracted – whether in the shower or on a walk. Because we need that down time for creativity to flourish.

For some, it means leaving the phone at home and immersing yourself in nature. For others, it means meditating or sitting in silence. But one thing’s for sure: taking time to disengage from the chatter of the world every now and then is essential.
Because in the quiet moments of life, we find the music.
And we find ourselves.

 

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