Silence is Sometimes Golden

January 29, 2015
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There was a period a couple of years ago when I all but stopped listening to music. I just wanted quiet. Silence. I walked around with my noise-canceling headphones on without any music playing. I was going through a rough patch both emotionally and physically and music just seemed more than I could bear. This went on for a very long time.

Silence is Sometimes Golden

Then I started putting my headphones on and listening to music when I first woke up and before I fell asleep at night. This sometimes had a cathartic effect – I would find myself sobbing when I played certain songs. A different kind of healing – but healing, for sure.

What is it about music that reaches the very depths of our souls and tugs at our heartstrings?

Why does a song from decades ago take us back to a first love, a breakup, or even farther back to a song that used to play on our parents’ old phonograph?

I can’t imagine how intense this must be for a musician. Especially one who has written the music and performs it for years on end. I recently heard a musician comment about how singing a song can reopen old wounds over and over again. Perhaps, with each performance, a little more of the buried emotion gets released.

I wrote about how we all have varying sensitivities to the five senses, depending on our innate constitution. Hearing is definitely one of mine. Going without listening to music for such an extended period of time seemed like a matter of survival, a healing of sorts. It was just too much for me, from a sensory perspective as well as an emotional one.

Of course, usually it works the other way – listening to music is one of the best ways to heal.

Sound is an integral part of the yogic/Ayurvedic tradition. We are vibratory beings as is everything else in nature. “Om” is believed to be the first sound of the Universe and all you have to do is be present in a group when it’s chanted to feel its power.

Mantras are chosen for their high vibration. As we chant them, they help to raise our own vibration.

Years ago in a class learning how to tone when doing energy healing work, I felt such a strong connection with my fellow student who was laying on the table, that I was taken aback. I was toning her heart chakra and felt as though the sound coming out of me (more powerful than I would have thought possible) was permeating her heart.

This was a mere two weeks after my partner, Ralph, had died, and my own heart was fragile. But that sound roaring out of me healed something in myself though it was directed at my friend.

I’ve come to realize that I prefer music with lyrics to plain old jazz or classical music. Must be my love of words, I guess. That being said, I’m hopeless at knowing the words to most songs!

Having reached a happy medium now, I am aware of how silence can (sometimes) be golden but music can feed your soul. I try to find time in my day for both.

I don’t really have any scientific explanation for any of this. I’m sure it’s out there but I kind of prefer the mystery of it. I’m just musing about something that’s been on my mind and I would love for you to weigh in with your own thoughts.

I always marveled at my daughter’s ability to study while listening to music. It unsettled me just to watch her. I’m sitting in a cafe right now, trying to write this, and although I have on my noise-canceling headphones, the music they’re playing is making it difficult.

Time to head back home to my cave where I can get a dose of silence.

Much love,
Barbara

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24 Comments

  1. I can certainly relate to the desire for silence, Barbara! I used to think there was something wrong with my mother, that she preferred to drive with the radio off and play no music at home…despite her having grown up as the daughter of a symphony musician. Now I am my mother! LOL. Glad to know there’s music at the end of the tunnel.

    What noise-canceling headphones work for you? I’ve tried many and found none to be satisfactory. Bose products work well in airplanes to lessen the ambient noise but do almost nothing to block the overhead announcements or even loud conversations in adjacent seats. My solution continues to be 13+ year old earbuds that fill my ear enough to greatly reduce nearby sounds. I keep thinking there must be something better, particularly with Bluetooth.

    Thank you for this post! I’m going to intentionally listen to some music at least once today. 🙂

    • Ha! Carl, this made me smile! I still have my Bose and you’re right – they don’t completely block out sound. When I meditate I put in heavy-duty ear plugs and then my headphones! Still, sounds get through. But my new neighborhood is a thousand times quieter than the one in NYC! 🙂 Thanks for commenting! xo

      • Love it! Ear plugs AND headphones! If I am meditating on a plane or somewhere that offers the possibility of abrupt sounds (especially voices), I use a free white noise app (with earbuds). At home or in my car in a parking lot, I just use the app on my phone and turn up the volume. Definitely great if you can do this with noise-canceling headphones too.

        For the record, I DID listen to music after my earlier comment! I enjoyed some guitar mixes (like Leo Kottke) for well over an hour. 🙂

  2. Robin Haywood

    This post was like music to my ears. I’ve been thinking about how healing music is all week and poof you write about it. I’ve also begun to enter into more periods of silence. Lately I find myself turning music off when I’m driving. I never use to do that, I always had it on and usually load too! But now silence is soothing.

    Music opens doors, even windows – it’s an expansion of time where the pulse of everything becomes harmonious, healing and for a brief moment all else falls away. Dancing hearts sing, fits pump to the drums, hips sway side to side. Movement happens, tears release, voices calm, tones clear. Music is my souls delight and yet silence is becoming my music sheet.

    With gratitude for your post! Love you dear friend!!

    • Oh, Robin! Thank you for this poetic response! Simply beautiful. See you soon, love! 🙂

  3. Robin Haywood

    This post was like music to my ears. I’ve been thinking about how healing music is all week and poof you write about it. I’ve also begun to enter into more periods of silence. Lately I find myself turning music off when I’m driving. I never use to do that, I always had it on and usually load too! But now silence is soothing.

    Music opens doors, even windows – it’s an expansion of time where the pulse of everything becomes harmonious, healing and for a brief moment all else falls away. Dancing hearts sing, fits pump to the drums, hips sway side to side. Movement happens, tears release, voices calm, tones clear. Music is my souls delight and yet silence is becoming my music sheet.

    With gratitude for your post! Love you dear friend!!

  4. Lynda Richards

    Barbara you sure hit the nail on the head for me this time. When I was in my early teens I loved music and I was always singing and dancing.Music was important I always want to learn the next new song. Then like you said I went silent and it was very upsetting to listen to music and I would find myself crying so I stopped listening to music and I stopped singing. I never k new how much music ment to me until we were chanting one time at a workshop. My throat still doesn’t like it but I am going to keep trying to get my voice back. I believe it is good to be silent I really enjoyed our meditation and being in silence it really help me to hear my thoughts but I also know it feels good to open my mouth and sing. Thanks so much for your blog. love and light Lynda xoxo

  5. Lynda Richards

    Barbara you sure hit the nail on the head for me this time. When I was in my early teens I loved music and I was always singing and dancing.Music was important I always want to learn the next new song. Then like you said I went silent and it was very upsetting to listen to music and I would find myself crying so I stopped listening to music and I stopped singing. I never k new how much music ment to me until we were chanting one time at a workshop. My throat still doesn’t like it but I am going to keep trying to get my voice back. I believe it is good to be silent I really enjoyed our meditation and being in silence it really help me to hear my thoughts but I also know it feels good to open my mouth and sing. Thanks so much for your blog. love and light Lynda xoxo

    • Lynda, It’s always so great to hear from you! I have heard the power of your voice released and it gave me goosebumps (the good kind!) 🙂 I can’t wait to see you and Ardelle soon. Much love to you both! xoxo

      • Love this insight you are sharing on the healing of music in our lives as the desire for silence at times. My entire life I was surrounded by music from a young age. My dad played classical as well as all other types of music in the home. My brother was in a band, my husband before I married him was in a bad. My oldes daughter was a #1 Dance Artist in NY and wrote her own music and performed a few years back. kTU played all her hits. Personally, I need the sound of music in my life daily. My husband and I watch all the music shows … American Idol, XFactor, the Voice and Glee. We are nourished by music… Thanks for your thoughts!

        • What a blessing, Linda, to have been (and still are) surrounded by music in your life! 🙂

  6. Ailish

    Barbara, I check in once and a while and I’m always delighted with reading your latest musings! Music and Silence are both so powerful to me and your writing resonates so closely to my experience. I have turned on a song and have ended sobbing, tears that I did not now were buried so deeply and so unformulated. Music helped me access them yet, still unformulated in the cognitive and verbal sense ,they were able to be released in a cathartic way. Silence has so much power too, on a separate note.

    Hail to Music and the unsung words within the depth of our souls finding its Voice! Cheers, Ailish

    • Hi Ailish! OMG, I was thinking about you a while ago when sifting through my thousands of photos and came across some from Free Arts. 🙂 Hope you are well. Thank you for the beautiful comment. xoxo

  7. Ailish

    Barbara, I check in once and a while and I’m always delighted with reading your latest musings! Music and Silence are both so powerful to me and your writing resonates so closely to my experience. I have turned on a song and have ended sobbing, tears that I did not now were buried so deeply and so unformulated. Music helped me access them yet, still unformulated in the cognitive and verbal sense ,they were able to be released in a cathartic way. Silence has so much power too, on a separate note.

    Hail to Music and the unsung words within the depth of our souls finding its Voice! Cheers, Ailish

  8. Sheila K

    I agree Barbara for me silence is Golden in the morning, love my quiet time, I do enjoy soundscapes, I put on my TV for lite sounds in my home for my babies Cocker, and Bishon Frise, and for my head also.

  9. Helen Linton

    I also thank you Barbara for your blog, I do enjoy reading your blogs and this one certainly resonates with me as well, for I too go through periods where I like silence from music and like to listen to the nature sounds. I never use to be like this but as I seem to getting older I do enjoy these times and thank you for the tips on the noise cancelling headphones.

    • Thank you, Helen! So happy it resonated (no pun intended!) with you. 🙂

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