I have a vague memory of the press conference that preceded the concert and an even vaguer memory of the concert itself—but I remember very distinctly, with my entire body, the moment after I had walked away from the Coliseum and realized that it was now quiet—and that I was absolutely exhausted.
I have been anti-loud-noise ever since.
I have read that listening to rock music helps teenage boys focus on their homework, but I think most science aligns with my experience: The numbers all show that loud noise of any sort, whether organized as music or not, causes not only hearing loss but also stress and, over time, the physiological damage that other forms of stress produce.
I have been thinking about noise because lately I have found myself increasingly drawn to its opposite, quiet, probably because of my qigong practice.
I know that external absence of noise is not necessary to attain inner absence of noise, or inner stillness. I have heard western Buddhist teachers talk about going off to Asia to train in monasteries there and being dismayed to find that the monasteries were not the serene enclaves they’d envisioned but noisy, bustling, mini-cities, and that they had to learn to shut all that noise out.
Some were probably better at this than others—and if the others couldn’t do it, it probably wasn’t because they didn’t try hard enough. Continue reading