Usually, we don’t notice the vast array of sounds that we process on a daily basis. Noise from the radio, blaring televisions, even the noise of traffic and conversations between commuters bombard our ears from the moment we wake up. In a big city, all kinds of noises are absorbed by our ears from the music on building sites playing to no one in particular, to the rubbish collectors announcing their presence noisily in the morning. At times there seems to be no escape.
Do you sometimes wonder why you occasionally feel inexplicably tired?
According to the House Research Institute (www.hei.org) ‘Normal conversation is measured at a moderate noise level of 50-70 dB [i], while the extreme noise level of a rock concert might be measured at 100-120 dB. Over-exposure to high intensity sound is a leading cause of damage to the sensory hair cells in the human ear. Prolonged exposure to sounds above 85 dB may cause permanent hearing loss. Some examples of loud sounds that can cause NIHL (Noise Induced Hearing Loss) are: Motorcycle/Hair dryer/Lawn mower/Leaf blower – 85-90 dB; Wood shop/Firecrackers (small) – 100-110 dB; Rock concerts -100-120 dB; Ambulance Siren/Jet Engine at Take-Off/Pneumatic Drill – 119-140 dB.’
According to https://familydoctor.org/ ‘Whether noise harms your hearing or not depends on the loudness, the pitch and the length of time you are exposed to the noise. The loudness of a sound (measured in decibels, or dB) and the length of exposure are related. The louder the sound, the shorter the exposure can be before damage occurs. For example, 8 hours of exposure to 85-dB noise on a daily basis can begin to damage a person’s ears over time. Using power tools (which measures around 100 dB), listening to loud stereo headsets (about 110 dB), attending a rock concert (about l20 dB) or hearing a gunshot (at 140 to 170 dB) may damage the hearing of some people after only a few times.’
On top of all those sounds, we are all regularly exposed to the sounds of mobile phones, we use earphones to listen to the music and our ears are pretty crucial to communication in most modern technologies.
So where does it leave us? Shall we just ran away from the busy cities and hide ourselves in woods or desert? Of course not! But we certainly can exercise some control over the sounds that penetrate our life on daily basis and minimize their harmful influence.
Here are some simple and practical tips:
· Switch off all the equipment that you do not use (radio, TV, washing machine, basically anything that makes sound) and try not to use them all at the same time.
· If you feel tired, switch off the light. Some lights produce a dull constant noise, which with prolong usage can make you feel strained and lethargic Remember that there are sound frequencies which you may not consciously hear that also affect your hears. To refresh your ears try to place yourself in the dark quiet room for at least 10 minutes.
· Put some beautiful soft calming music that would ‘take’ you to another dimension: it could be any style (classical, folk, jazz and even pop), as long as it is quiet and switches your mind off.
· If you are accustomed to using mantras [ii], start repeating it at least 108 times: for example, “NAM-MYOHO-RENGE-KYO,” (Buddhist Mantra) or any mantras that you are familiar with.
· Take a candle-lit hot bath with relaxing oils and just listen to the sound of water.
· Go to the countryside, or if you cant get there, your local park. Let the wind and fresh air clear your mind (having said that, make sure that you ears are protected and warm).
· Do some yoga poses that involve some slow forward bends. These exercise your lower back and help improve blood pressure.
· Have some tea – either black or herbal in the dark room or in a natural light.
· Lie down with the eye mask in a dark room.
· Do several deep breaths, concentrating on breathing out – if you know the ujjayi breath or lion breath, these could help a great deal.
· Create your own space when you are among the crowd. Imagine a white light surrounding you and protecting from the crowd, or just concentrate on the task that you are doing, trying consciously to shut the world away.
In general, endeavor to control how much sound you are exposing yourself to. If you live in a busy city, using earplugs can be helpful (although personally I do not like them that much). With a little bit of self-discipline and care, you can start noticing the noise pollution around yourself and, therefore, preserve your ears and your well-being!
This blog was written in a busy French Metro, while the author was stuck underground for some time.
[i] Sound pressure levels are measured in decibels (dB)
[ii] In Hinduism Buddhism any sacred word or syllable used as an object of concentration and embodying some aspect of spiritual power