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Tuning Out The Chatter


This is a noisy world. Where once there was silence now there is a cacophony of sound. Jarring talking heads; extra loud tv commercials; Twitter notifications; pinging text messages. Even gas pumps pump out noise these days.

As if exterior noise isn’t intrusive enough, what about interior noise? That voice in our heads that provides a running commentary on events. It starts up even before we’re properly awake: “I know this is going to be a really bad day”; “I should have called my sister, now she’s going to be really mad with me”.

The voice predicts what’s going to happen (usually bad things); anticipates what will go wrong; tells us what, and who, we like and dislike (depending on how well the exterior world is conforming to our wishes) and berates us for our failings, short-comings and our emotions. It can even take different sides of the same issue: “I shouldn’t have that third glass of wine but, after a day like mine, I deserve a third glass of wine, don’t I?”

When we turn out the lights at night, fragments of what we’ve been externally exposed to all day mingle with our harried inner voice and the bombardment is a recipe for overwhelm and exhaustion at exactly the moment when we need rest.

Of course there are simple things we can do to quiet the exterior overload: turn off the news, unplug the internet, go for a walk without ear pods. The voice in our heads, however, is another matter. It’s much tougher to silence particularly for those of us who are not practiced at meditation.

But there is an essential (and quiet) part that shines deep within all of us that is separate from that runaway inner dialogue. Whether we refer to it as our essence, spirit, soul or life-force it’s always there and we can safely rely upon it to help still the inner voice.

Try this experiment: Sit down in a quiet spot and pay attention to what the voice is saying. You’ll be amazed by the relentless and repetitive stream of judgments, memories and worries that come at you. It won’t be long before you observe that you may be in a peaceful place but you are far from peaceful. And don’t be tricked into berating yourself for having these thoughts. That’s the voice taking the other side of the issue. We all have these thoughts, it’s perfectly normal. It’s how we manage them that matters.

Studies show that over 95% of what we think is pointless, meaningless and does nothing to make the exterior world the way we want it to be. The world is going to be what it’s going to be no matter how outraged our agitated minds become. But when we simply start to observe our thoughts, we can consciously re-focus which gradually creates enough space to free up our brain power for the things that really help to make our world better: Our relationships will benefit from the calm presence that replaces the volatility that demands of the inner voice create, our stress levels and physical well-being improve when we’re freed from the endless stream of worry and we become more capable of working productively and solving problems creatively.

Give yourself a break. Take some time to tune out the chatter, embrace the sound of silence and help make the world a more quiet and peaceful place.