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Shh! Please....

My sister recently asked me about my meditation habit. I informed her that I try to meditate 15 minutes every morning and have done so for about a decade. She then asked a probing question, “Why?”

With meditation being so popular these days, most people take for granted that it is good for you. I certainly did. But my sister’s question left me pondering. Ultimately, I answered that it makes me feel more grounded. She nodded, not particularly convinced.

I, on the other hand, asked myself, why does sitting quietly leave me feeling more grounded. When cogitating, I realized that I recently began to enjoy hiking in the quiet--hopefully silent--woods. Why would I, a guy who is talkative and New York loud, be attracted to these quiet activities?

Then the obvious struck. We are living in an insanely loud age. By loud, I don’t mean just noise, but that is part of it; I mean we are constantly being bombarded by stimuli demanding our attention. I remember when cell phones first descended on the market. it was impolite to take them out when with other people. Now, I go to dine out and see some dining “companions” looking at their phones more than at each other. The stimuli from the phone is more stimulating than the company--not a good omen for a date.

And because the phone can be so far away residing in our pockets, most of us wear watches that bing, vibrate and light up when another stimulus arrives. We pump gas and the gas pump is playing a video. Twitter announces the end of the world every second.

The constant stimuli, which at some level we crave, robs us of the time to be alone with our thoughts--and thus the ability to think. We should not rely solely on others’ input. To be truly cognizant, we must make time to process and synthesize all the stimuli, and the modern world does not give us that chance.

So being in quiet spaces gives me the time to make better sense of the world and my place in it. That is why I crave it so.

I would argue that I am not alone in needing this quiet. Each of us should make some time in the day to be alone with our thoughts or we will rely solely on a constant stream of other people’s (or bots’) inputs.

Equally importantly for those of us in education, we must supply our students this opportunity. We should introduce them to the advantages of having the time to think uninterruptedly, and we must carve out that time for them. As life gets busier and more noisy, school should become quieter and calmer.


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