With so much noisy chaos in the world and with no other significant idea coming to my mind, I decided to focus on the quiet moments today.
I highly value the times when things are still and quiet because I’m able to think, feel and process without interruption. Have you ever turned down the radio in your car when you’re looking for an address? Loud music doesn’t affect your eyesight, but it can interfere with your concentration.
Similarly, when we’re learning a new dance routine, or trying to remember an old one, turning on music can sometimes make it more difficult to dance, at least until we have the choreography more firmly planted in our gray matter and our bodies. Lately in my lessons, as I’m working on fine tuning details like my arm placement or my core activation, if there is music playing at the studio, I have to tune it out while I focus on feeling those details. Otherwise, my brain starts trying to process all the things and I lose focus.
Quiet is also essential for listening to my gut. Not in the digestive issue sort of way. More in the intuitive way. I’ve always had gut feelings; although over the course of my life, I’ve probably listened to them a lot less than I should have. Intuition is one of those messages that arrives via a whisper, and in our noisy world, it’s easy to miss it.
It reminds me of movie scenes where a character is screaming at the sky for a sign. As the audience, our attention is drawn to something small or seemingly insignificant but that clearly holds the answer the character so desperately craves. The character misses it though because they’re looking for something big or grandiose. They wait for a bush to spontaneously burst into flames when the real answer they’re looking for is the packet of matches in their pocket.
As I’ve gotten older, I’ve gotten better about listening to those intuitive whispers. I like to check in with my gut frequently to help me make big decisions as well as just to see if I’m still generally on the right path. We’ve been spending a lot more time together than usual because of the pandemic, as I’ve pondered where my dance journey will go next.
Even in isolation at home, it can be difficult to find quiet these days. As I write this alone at home, without any music or TV playing in the background, my attention is drawn away from the keyboard to the traffic on the street outside my apartment. As the traffic quiets down, I hear other things that are normally drowned out by daily activities. A crow perched in some tree or on top of a carport calls to another. The cord on the ceiling fan taps out irregular rhythms. The refrigerator kicks on. A neighbor rattles his keys as he returns home. One of my dogs breathes deeply as he briefly wakes up from his nap and then settles back into dreamland.
It’s interesting how much more there is to hear when you turn down the noise. It’s also interesting how sometimes more noise can actually be easier to tune out than a few quieter, but distinct sounds, because of the way noise can blend together. If I had music playing over all of the other sounds, for example, I would only need to tune out the music.
Along with helping my focus and hearing what is normally drowned out, quiet also helps me find stillness. In today’s fast-paced society (cliché, I know), taking time to be still is important. It can reduce stress, help us to think more clearly, and give our bodies time to rest and recover. For those who never slow down, I’m sure the pandemic felt like someone slammed on the brakes of their Life. I’m hearing from a lot of people that they actually appreciate being forced to slow down or stop. It’s giving them a chance to look around and take notice of where they are.
So how about you? What’s your position on quiet?
Do you like a quiet or noisy environment to work, play and/or live in?
Do you like to always play music for your solo practice or only for certain parts?
I hope you have a wonderful week, dancers, with just the right balance of quiet and noisy for you.