The Sound of Silence

bench in meditation garden This bench sits in a beautiful meditation garden in Southern California. There are signs posted to “Please Respect the Quiet”, the peacefulness and this special place where many come to relax and meditate.  On a recent visit, I sat on this bench to enjoy some peace and quiet after a busy week.

Ahhhh…….with eyes closed, I first noticed the feeling of the breeze wafting through the trees around me.  I could hear the water bubbling in a nearby Koi pond.  As I tried to quiet my mind,  I wondered what it would be like to have complete silence in this space.  No noise of any kind. And then I started noticing and creating a mental list of the sounds surrounding me. So much for turning off my thoughts! Beyond these gardens, lies a road, sidewalks and a quaint beach town.   In the span of less than five minutes, this is what I heard….in this order.

  • A car trunk slammed
  • A zipper – – probably a camera case
  • Cameras clicking in the gardens
  • A teenager talking on a cell phone on the sidewalk outside the gardens
  • A plane flew overhead – – military – – loud
  • A car engine starting
  • Somebody sneezed
  • Somebody whispered “bless you”
  • The beeping sound of a large truck backing up
  • A security guard helping an older woman with her walker
  • A baby cried
  • Squeaky car brakes
  • Birds in the trees overhead
  • Wind blowing through the leaves
  • Footsteps walking through gravel

For ‘hearing’ people, these are sounds that play in the background of our daily lives.  And these sounds are heard in a place which is designed to be quiet. Venture out into the city and add in other voices and horns blowing and endless ambient sounds.

For many of us, I think the closest we get to silence is when we slip underwater. Of course, this doesn’t count if one is in a community pool on the weekend. The sound changes, but it’s definitely not silent.

While our tendency is often to ponder how curious the Deaf must be regarding sound,  I wonder how many hearing people are curious about the experience of complete silence. Does the brain finally relax when not constantly noticing, categorizing, evaluating and processing sounds?  Or is it the opposite?  For the Deaf, is it possible that the brain remains on ‘high alert’ using the other senses…compensating for the lack of sound?  I can’t help but wonder.

Via new hearing aids, a young man named Austin Chapman recently heard music for the first time. He was emotional and amazed, but confesses that ‘silence’ is still his favorite sound.

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About Evelyn

Evelyn Hunter is a SODA with years of experiential study in Deaf Culture. She attended Gallaudet University to immerse herself in this unique deaf world while working for the University and studying sign language to hone her skills. Evelyn has served in training, relationship sales, and marketing -- always seeking to expand awareness of Deaf Culture and the unique challenges the deaf face on a daily basis. The Sign Language Company has recently established a presence on Facebook, Twitter, Youtube and a website with a blog, as Evelyn coordinates the marketing and outreach efforts for the agency. Her goal is to attract new clients seeking exceptional service, while maintaining optimal relationships with clients who have selected The Sign Language Company for over 20 years.

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