The treasure of Quiet Moments
Compiled by Alice Fedorenko; based on the book PAUSE: Putting Breaks on a Runaway Life, by Katherine Gibson (2006). 231 pp. Insomniac Press, Toronto, Ontario.
A little silence each day is good for the body and soul, and as essential to our well-being as food and water.
Silence is the pause that feeds the spirit. We need quiet time and lots of it — daily. Yet in our culture, noise plays havoc with our inner selves and shatters our serenity. The constant racket is tiring and mind-numbing, and noisy environments act as a barrier between our heads and our hearts. By comparison, a quieter background at home and at work tends to reduce our mental clutter, lets us feel less rushed, yet more focused.
Despite our ultra-noisy environment, we have a right to speak up and demand a quieter, kinder society - one that respects a gentler way of life. Quiet and serene moments can be created. For example, a project known as the Quiet Garden Trust provides mini-escapes for city-workers, allowing them contemplation and repose in natural settings. Currently, this Quiet Garden project has more than 260 mini-escape sites in cities throughout 18 countries, including England, Australia, United States and Canada (for example, Trinity Sqare in Toronto and the garden at the Church of St. Andrew & St Paul in Montreal).
Another growing concept is that of holding "Quiet Parties" which enable quiet socializing away from excessive noise. At these parties, guests at a bar or a lounge communicate by talking softly or by passing notes. Loud music is not allowed, and cellphones and other electronical devices may be banned. The resulting relaxed and restful atmosphere is in sharp contrast to the typical chaotically-loud "bar-scenes" where guests have to shout to be heard.
In a similar vein in England, the commuter train linking the Heathrow Airport with the London city centre, has designated "quiet cars" where cellphones are banned and commuters are encouraged to speak softly. Other endeavours that ease the stress from excessive background noise include: the total ban of leafblowers in the denselyly populated West End of Vancouver (Canada); the French government's policy to allow the installation of cellphone-jamming equipment in theatres and concert halls; and the response by companies to meet the consumer's demand for quieter household appliances (eg., the super-quiet Miele vacuum cleaner).