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It's Our Turn: The blissful sound of silence in a noisy world

What's your favorite sound?

I have a lot of them. The one I hear right now as I write this is the quiet, gentle song of the wind chimes on my front porch.

But to be honest, quite often my favorite sound is silence.

Yes, I know what a wonderful gift the sense of hearing is and I hope I never take it for granted. I couldn't imagine not knowing what the voices of my family members sound like, or never hearing laughter or a waterfall or music.

I love music. But sometimes, I simply love silence. I can completely relate to author Edith Sitwell who once said, "My personal hobbies are reading, listening to music, and silence." Yes!

I suppose the reason I've come to value silence so much is because of how noisy life has gotten. Everywhere you go there is noise. Cell phones ringing, people talking, electronic games or devices beeping and buzzing, TVs or radios on, intercom systems echoing...and of course the extreme overuse of that one glorious word - "Mom? Mom! MOM!"

Even when there isn't audible noise, we're still bombarded with an overabundance of visual noise - street signs, flashing lights, computer screens, text messages, e-mails...

It's nearly impossibly to find complete silence in today's world.

I realize I may not be in the majority on this. I know silence makes some people uncomfortable or they simply don't like it. Those people avoid silence by filling it with mindless chatter or with background noise.

My husband walks into a room and immediately turns on a TV and then doesn't pay any attention to it. The radio in his shop is on at all times. I guess the hum of background noise is what quiets his mind.

I, on the other hand, sometimes crave silence like I crave chocolate. When I come home after a day full of audio and visual noise, I want the TV off. I don't want the washing machine or dishwasher running. I want silence.

One of the reasons I like silence is because I feel like I can hear myself think. I can get in tune to what I am thinking and feeling. I can have an inner conversation with myself. It seems likes sometimes I go days without having a conversation with myself, if that makes any sense.

Meditation sounds like a wonderful thing - taking silence even further by completely quieting your mind. But how do you do that?

No matter what I am doing - driving, reading, walking, or just sitting around doing nothing - I cannot quiet my mind. It's always full of some kind of noise - assessing how my day went, planning for an upcoming event, mentally checking off my to-do list, replaying a conversation over and over... There's always a lot of "noise" going on in my mind, and I have no clue how to quiet that.

But that's OK. All that internal noise seems manageable when I can find a few precious moments of external silence here and there. I'll keep turning the TV off the second my husband leaves the room. I'll keep asking the girls to "be quiet for a minute so I can think!"

After all, according to The Sufi Message of Hazrat Inayat Khan, "The keynote to harmonious life is... silence!"

• • •

"It's Our Turn" is a weekly column that rotates among members of the Echo Press editorial staff.

Follow #AlexMN @EchoPress Life Editor Tara Bitzan on Twitter at @TBitzan.

Tara Bitzan

Tara Bitzan is editor of the Echo Press. She joined the company in 1991 as a news reporter. A lifelong resident of Douglas County, Tara graduated from Brandon High School and earned a bachelor of arts degree in mass communications and English with a minor in Scandinavian Studies from Moorhead State University. She and her husband, Dennis, and their children live near Alexandria.

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