Getting quiet can get really loud. It’s why so many people avoid doing it.
I didn’t plan on going for the walk I went on today. It didn’t even really hit me to do so until I grabbed my keys to chauffer Audrey to school. But something told me to head to one of the longer trails around here and see what happens. Normally when I walk I listen to something, a podcast or music. Sometimes I call a friend and chat.
Today I grabbed my headphones and began down the trail, but I couldn’t get myself to put them on. The sounds that were around me were far too plentiful. The crickets and cicadas were chirping away. There were the cries of Osprey and Vulture and the hammer of the woodpecker. Even the crunch of my own feet felt symphonic to my ears. I walked the entire walk with the headphones around my neck, never putting them on.
The thing about noise in nature however, is that when you really listen to it, there is a kind of quiet that exists underneath it all still. I find that as humans, when we go quiet and without distraction, sometimes there is a loudness that resides there. Thoughts hum, fears buzz and worries caw. Without the aid of my eardrums being occupied, I was all of a sudden able to hear it all. The initial impulse is to grab for the distraction and run. But I kept walking and kept time with the outer noises surrounding me. I heard myself loud and clear and felt all of the things I was feeling in my body.
Something we don’t do a great job at explaining as human beings is that the emotions we experience all have a unique sensation that shows up in our body. There is something called Interoceptive Awareness which is the ability to actually feel these sensations in conjunction with what we are experiencing emotionally. We are generally good at the more primal ones, such as feeling sleepiness, hunger and the urge to go to the bathroom. These aren’t emotions, but they are very much cued by our interoceptive awareness. The real skill and study comes from understanding how our emotions show up in our bodies. Fear comes to me as a restriction in my chest while anxiety comes as a bundle of knots in my stomach. Sometimes it feels as if the top layer of my skin is sitting in perpetual goosebumps. It has taken some time, but I have become quite apt at reading my emotions through bodily sensation.
As I walked today however, feeling the knots and the tightness, I found myself walking for some quick spurts and then stopping and standing in complete stillness. I would listen to the crunch, crunch, crunch of my feet and then pause to listen to the hum of the woods. Each time I stopped I noticed that underbelly of quiet that was present. And I realized, this is what gets missed when we don’t actually let ourselves get quiet. When we bombard ourselves with constant distraction and noise, we lose the ability to first go in and face the loudness of our own thoughts, but after a while, not too long, there is a settling. At the very least, an understanding that the noise of our minds is simply the top layer of what is happening. Underneath it still lives an element of quiet calm, just as in nature.
I understand how hard it can be to get quiet with ourselves. It’s the very same reason we are working on gentleness this month in eMOTION. We don’t live in a quiet and gentle world and so our skills are simply not often attuned to knowing how to navigate those moments. One of the entire reasons I am writing these “walking diaries” is to really begin advocating for a more quiet and gentle way of being with ourselves to become more normal. Even when life is loud. A big reason my walks take place in nature is because there are just so many lessons to take and apply from it. There are lessons there, when we really choose to listen to them.
My sincere hope is that through reading one of these blogs, or coming to an eMOTION or Meditation class with me, you will walk away with the permission to let it be ok for things to get a little loud when you go quiet. It doesn’t mean that you’re doing it wrong. It simply means that there is a lot to listen to in order to get to that quiet layer underneath it all. It’s like sometimes when you do a big clean out, you make more of a mess at first in order to sort through everything. Often, that’s all that is happening in the loudness of our own minds. Let it move through you, but more importantly, let yourself move through it without distraction. Peace will come. I promise.
is a Mama, Wife, Yoga and Meditation Teacher, Coach, Writer and Activist. You can read more about her here.