Tuesday, November 17, 2009

White Noise

We hear what we tune into. When we have music on for white noise, it is simply so that we can focus attention there, rather than to machine noise or other people's conversations.

White noise helps provide privacy and focuses our attention. And it can provide a warmer feeling to a place. Consider how simple a process shopping is. We go to the store, choose what we want, then pay for it. How would the experience change if the store only contained the sounds of people working and people shopping?

Notice how even in a restaurant, coffee house or bar, we do not hear other people's conversations. Of course, if the music is too loud, we cannot even hear our own. How would the experience be different without that white noise?

Now when we come home, do we still treat music as white noise? Sometimes I like silence. Other times I will pay more attention to the music I choose to put on the sound system. I follow the sounds of the instruments and voices and I can hear nuances that I do not hear in white noise.

White noise provides us with a certain amount of insulation, privacy and comfort. But it is so prevalent in our atmosphere that we have to remember to shift back into more conscious levels of listening.

If you have ever practiced just sitting quietly in nature, you can hear birds, insects, wind rustling through leaves, water running down a stream. When it is quiet in the building where you live, do you find yourself startled because you are unfamiliar with the sound of water in the pipes, wind in the chimney, the hum of electricity, or the house settling?

When you resist the temptation to turn the stereo, radio or TV on as soon as you come home, how does it feel? When you get up in the morning, before you go to work, how would it feel to reenter the world of consciousness without any stereo, radio or TV? Try it and see what happens in a world without white noise.

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