6 Ways That Traveling to 'Quiet Places’ is Transformational
Noise is the vibratory architecture of our lives, loud parts are often chaotic while quiet places tend to be tranquil. Sound helps give further definition to a setting, bouncing off flat surfaces and couching itself in fuzzy sound wells. Through our ears, we receive environmental information in the form of sound and pass it on to other systems, which allow us to “feel” our surroundings. It should go without saying then, that the type of noise we receive is important, just like the food we eat or the source of light we expose our retinas to. Unfortunately, humans have been steadily creating an ever more chaotic stew of sound, wreaking havoc on our minds in the process.
A stroll through the middle of any city will be littered with the sounds of tires pounding on pavement, car horns blaring, planes flying overhead, and a million other disturbances. Most of us don’t even consciously notice how truly cacophonous our world is, but studies show that there are long term health effects that arise from being surrounded by so much unnatural sound.
It has become increasingly popular to escape the loudness of civilization with a pair of noise-canceling headphones. While this is a good option for day-to-day life in the city, there is something to be said for getting out to a place where humankind’s racket simply does not reach. There are many places that are not “silent” per se, but actually allow you to bathe in sound. Visiting one of these places, like a certified Quiet Park, has many benefits beyond what total silence has to offer. Quiet Parks International was founded with the goal of preserving soundscapes so far untouched by humankind.
The Transformational Properties of Quiet Places
1. Quiet places have health benefits
A healthy diet of silence and atmospheric sound has been linked to a lower resting heart rate, blood pressure regulation, and promotes neurogenesis. In the future, we may also see more therapies involving quiet as a tool for calm introspection. People who are able to tap into the expanse offered by silence often report feelings of relief from stress and anxiety. Visiting a quiet park is an excellent way to completely escape the myriad of repetitive noises faced in the workplace, on devices, and during commutes.
2. Restore your focus, return home in a state of flow
Quiet destinations help with attention restoration for those who are suffering from mental burnout. As modern life and lifestyles lay on large-scale difficulties and daily challenges, it is important to cultivate practices that help us gain back our center. While there are many ways to restore some focus close to home (a yoga class or meditation for example), traveling deep into the womb of nature helps you enter into a more profound state of flow. After a night out under the ambient night sky, you will return to the workplace feeling well rested and ready to surmount all issues that come your way.
3. Discover new landscapes
Did you know that there is a perfect time to hear birdsongs? The Dawn Chorus is that wee hour of the morning where stillness and low pressure coincide so that the sounds of birds may be carried further through the air. Most of us would never know, we live in places where our own human din has driven away avian communities. Going out into nature can give us a glimpse of that otherworldly place, where cacophony is a beautiful and paradoxically peaceful thing. In fact, nature is full of wonderful, perplexing auditory phenomena. Different environments offer their own palette of sounds. A lowland desert might bustle with cicadas in the morning, rustle as midday breeze sweeps through the trees, and turn almost silent at night. Meanwhile, the incredible sound dampening effects of snow in the alpine may be pierced by the sharp creaking of brittle glaciers cracking internally, or giant avalanches and rockfall might boom thunderously across the whole mountain range. In reality, there are millions of soundscapes across our incredibly diverse planet. The best way to discover them is through exploration of the natural world, like staying at the foot of a glacier or navigating through wandering waterways.
4. Increase your mental and physical bandwidth
Our human brains are only wired to handle a certain amount of input. Out in the wild, a sudden sound usually represents possible danger. This is why we often jump when a loud and unexpected noise takes us by surprise; it has triggered the fight or flight response handed down from the mammalian brain. Of course, modern society is absolutely rife with these kinds of sounds. While we won’t perceive it consciously at any one point in time, the continued stimuli featured in offices, commutes, and shopping malls are known to wear on our autonomic nervous system (ANS), which regulates our sympathetic (fight or flight) and parasympathetic (rest and digest) response. When we get the chance to remove ourselves from the usual sensory overload and escape to our natural environment, our nervous system gets a chance to recalibrate. Being outside in a relatively quiet environment has been shown to boost mood, alleviate stress, and help people ready themselves for difficult situations. By visiting a quiet place, you are quite literally getting the chance to heal.
5. Help protect wildlife and indigenous cultures
Humans are obviously not the only species affected by our own industrial noise pollution. Both plants and animals are suffering worldwide due to the loss of the delicate balance that allows them to communicate with their surroundings. By joining the growing community of people who travel specifically with a quiet destination in mind, you are contributing to a change in the tourism industry that will place a high value on conservation. Silence and areas untouched by human noise are indeed a dwindling resource, and they often share geographical space with other resources central to extractive industries. Ecotourism presents principles of environmental protection as a viable economic resource, one in direct opposition to extractive industry. This in turn helps many indigenous communities across the world to support ancestral lifeways which value the planet and future generations to come.
6. Find space to meditate
A master of meditation would be able to direct the Qi in any situation in a form that would produce meditative effects. Unfortunately, very few people are masters of meditation. For the majority of us who grew up behind screens and with short attention spans, finding a proper space to ground your meditations is an important part of developing it into a fruitful practice. Even though it’s easy enough to find a quiet room, the walls often make thoughts echo unwontedly. There truly is no other experience that’s comparable with sitting on the earth with nothing but the sky above you and simply being and breathing.
How Recal is regenerating our relationship with quiet places
Here at Recal, we have taken a step toward furthering our relationship with quiet places by creating our Quiet Park Trip Series. Both of these mindful adventures are coach-led by someone who is trained in the art of listening and utilizing the healing properties of natural quiet. We will be venturing deep into the Boundary Waters Canoe Area in northern Minnesota and Glacier National Park in Montana. If you are interested in learning more about our trips, finding nearby quiet parks, conservation efforts to preserve quiet, or the transformational properties of quiet, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.