Thursday, November 20, 2008

Son et lumière

There is always a lot going on in my head.

I am not suggesting that I'm a braniac - it's not physics, and in fact, I can't even do addtition without my fingers and toes. It's just, well, words and stuff.

Once, when someone was trying to teach me how to meditate, he said, "You are not a person with a quiet mind." And this is true. The goal, as he explained it, was to silence the chatter.

The truth is, I haven't yet managed.

I understand the why of it - you want to be able to focus. You want a respite from the clatter or roar, as the case may be. You want to clear out the detritus in your head.

It is very rare that I focus so intensely on one thing that there's nothing, absolutely nothing, else going on in my brain.

It's not that I'm not focused or in the moment in my normal life. But I'm in the moment with the background of: Wow, it's cold. It wasn't this cold this morning. And what wind. I hate wind. I wonder if we left the windows open. Hey, I like that woman's hat. Hats! Proper Topper has great hats. And they might be having a sale soon. Sale? The Nordstrom sale. I wonder if my package has arrived...

You see what I mean? Not quiet.

And this is the reason, I think, why I usually don't turn on music at home. It's overload. I hate it when people turn on TV for background noise. Background noise? You want extra?

I spend my life filtering out internal background noise.

And it's not that I don't like music. I love music when I exercise. But sometimes, when walking to work, I start out so thinky that I forget to turn on my iPod. I got all the way to work once and realized that I had the headphones on, but the soundtrack was my own.

I think, actually, that blogging has been really good for me, in that I have always had this constant inner dialogue. Knowing that I'm going to be writing things down for public consumption has given me a reason to focus the in-my-head story.

And yet, I find it hard to sleep in absolute silence.

I have an air filter machine next to the bed - both for allergies and for the noise. Growing up in hot countries, we always had room air conditioning units. On cold when it was hot, and on hot when it was cold. But a constant, year-round hum. I like white noise when I sleep.

And it just occurs to me, why is it called white noise, anyway?


  1. As opposed to "colored noise" I think, like music, or maybe "black noise" like say, jackhammers and such. Jackhammers...Hugh Jackman, MMmmmm.

  2. Do you really want to know? Because I might be just nerdy enough to help supply the answer...

    I can't meditate, for much the same reasons. I must have a point of focus!

    Even if that point of focus winds up being how very not good at meditating I am.

  3. Every now and then when B or I says an incredible non sequitur, we'll stop and trace our mental steps back out loud to see how we got there. It's supa interesting.


  4. I like pickle juice.

  5. I believe the term "white noise" is somehow derived from the fact that white light is an even mix of all of the colors of the visible spectrum. White noise is an even mix across the audio spectrum... or at least that's what I vaguely remember from physics class years ago.

    As for the internal chatter... I know the feeling. I almost always have an internal conversation or two going on. The only time I can remember where I haven't has been when I've been so depressed that my entire internal conversation is focused on being depressed. :-\

  6. J - I like your train of though. Yum.

    Jessica - Meditation is very very hard.

    LiLu - And it always meanders back to a point that makes sense, right??

    FreckledK - Yet another thing we have in common.

    VVK - Ohh, that makes sense! Never having taken physics, or ever ever paying attention in any science class...

    Yah, I feel what you are saying. It's like that.

  7. Wow, it's like you wrote a post about me. I'm ALWAYS thinking a bunch of random stuff. I remember my college boyfriend once in a while would say he was thinking about nothing, and I'd go "really, like, nothing at all?" "nope, nothing, my mind is blank" and he was being completely honest. Me? I'm never NOT thinking something.

  8. Ah ha! Yes! Exactly! This is clearly why I never turn music on, and is also, I think, why I like watching TV so much. Because it actually zones out the CRAZY.


  9. I used to feel the same way about meditation until I learned what it was really all about (and just for the record, if I can meditate, ANYONE can meditate). The goal is not to quiet the chatter; at least not on the outset. You just follow where your mind takes you, follow it until you feel like you feel after you've hit "post" on your blog. You feel like you've got nothing left to say, nothing left to think. Just sit there, breathe, let everything flow and don't concentrate on stopping it. Just see where your internal dialogue leads.

  10. Beach Bum - Yah. I've never understood the not thinking about anything. I'm always thinking about everything.

    Nicole - Interesting about the TV. I could see that.

    Jo - Thanks, I appreciate that - that's a really good explanation. That makes sense, actually.

  11. First of all, you are a brainiac (and not in a bad way).

    And actually, as I understand it, yoga is supposed to be preparation for meditation. I think this makes sense if you have done and enjoyed yoga. When you practice, you focus on that sort of calm & energized self-awareness. I can see this leading to successful meditation. Although, of course, I stop at yoga.

  12. I always assumed "white noise" was like a "white out" or blizzard, obliterating everything else.

    I've no idea why I assumed this.

    I guess that's why assumptions are fun.


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