by The 5P Foundation

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Ever feel like the world’s obsessed with finding inner peace through complete silence? Mindfulness apps tell you to find a quiet corner, meditation retreats promise blissful seclusion, and social media explodes with pictures of yogis perched on mountaintops. But let’s be honest, most of us don’t live lives conducive to these serene escapes. We juggle commutes, work deadlines, and social engagements. Our apartments are filled with roommates, our commutes are screeching with honking horns and chatter, and let’s not even mention the constant buzz of notifications on our phones. So, what about finding peace when silence feels like a luxury we rarely have?

The truth is, inner peace isn’t about external silence; it’s about achieving a focused and mindful presence within the noise of daily life. Here’s the surprising secret: silence might not be all it’s cracked up to be. A study by the University of Southern California’s Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy Division found that people performed better on cognitive tasks when presented with moderate levels of background noise. The study also suggests that different tasks might require different noise levels for optimal performance. These findings are significant, as they extend previous research results about the positive effects white noise has on the cognitive performance of neurotypical adults. This suggests that a complete absence of sound might actually make it harder for us to focus.

The key lies in mindfulness. Mindfulness isn’t about achieving some zen state of complete stillness; it’s about consciously focusing your attention on the present moment, without judgment. It’s about being aware of your thoughts, feelings, and physical sensations, even amidst the external noise. Imagine you’re stuck in rush hour traffic. Instead of letting the honking and frustration take over, try focusing on the rhythm of your breath, the feeling of your chair against your back, or the interesting shapes of the clouds above the traffic jam. By anchoring yourself in the present moment, the noise becomes less intrusive and your mind becomes calmer. 

Think about it this way: the world is full of beautiful and interesting sounds. The crashing waves on a beach, the gentle patter of rain, or even the comforting hum of your favorite cafe can all create a positive soundscape. Learning to appreciate these sounds and use them as anchors for your mindful awareness can be surprisingly calming.

Finding peace in the noise isn’t about escaping reality; it’s about embracing it with a more focused and present mind. So ditch the pressure to find a silent retreat and explore the power of mindful awareness in your daily life.  Start by trying a simple breathing exercise – inhale for a count of four, hold for four, and exhale for eight.  Focus on the physical sensations of your breath and notice how it can instantly shift your focus away from the external noise. Forget the chase for silence. True inner peace lies in staying with a calm center amidst the chaos of daily life. 


Author: Elza Tanari

Awada, M., Becerik-Gerber, B., Lucas, G. et al. Cognitive performance, creativity and stress levels of neurotypical young adults under different white noise levels. Sci Rep 12, 14566 (2022).


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