Late in July each year when I was in grammar school, my family took a two-week vacation to Daytona Beach. Timed to coincide with the annual shutdown at the Pratt & Whitney factories where my parents worked, the trip started and ended with the two-day drive along the east coast. It wasn't as bad as it sounds~~20 hours in the back seat with my siblings and whatever luggage wouldn't fit into the trunk~~except for the drive through New York. The trip was meticulously planned around our trek over the Hudson River on the Tappan Zee Bridge. It was the only time we had to turn the radio off (we each had our turn to pick the radio format every few hours), and as the span approached~~as if on cue~~we waited for my mom's "Be quiet, Dad's trying to drive in traffic!"
By far, that was my least favorite part of those trips. But I finally get it now. The Toyota I bought on my own off the lot when I was in college didn't have a radio, and I couldn't wait to get one installed (it was later ripped out of the dashboard by a daytime thief while the car was parked at Thornden Park on the Syracuse University campus). That's because I was always the girl next to you at the stoplight, belting out whatever tune was coming through my speakers. It took public radio, then podcasts, and now my own yoga classes to turn off my voice and turn on my brain.
When I started teaching practice classes in my yoga training, I found that listening to anything in the hour or so beforehand just felt like so much noise. Even the songs in the class playlists I curate seem to clutter my mind at a time when I just want some space. I feel I can be better prepared for my students when I have a silent drive to the studio. I find that I'm leaving the radio off on my way home from class afterwards as well, so I can digest everything and wind down for the evening.
Due to renovations that recently started in my office building, I was without a television for a few weeks. Going from having it on in the background all day to seeing a black screen was hard to get used to at first. But after a few days I relished the silence. Not having to-the-minute updates of the current administration incessantly repeated throughout the day while I worked sure made it easier to focus on the projects in front of me. Now I'm trying to turn on the TV only when I need to. And although changing my news consumption to only morning radio and evening television feels like old school, I've come to appreciate separating these activities to give each the attention it deserves.
Moments of silence can be hard to come by in our busy days, but try to seek them out. You might be surprised at what comes up for you at first. You may feel like you should be doing something "more productive" or fun, multitasking to make the most of every drop of your jam-packed waking hours. Instead, you might eventually find a sense of calm and freedom from even just a a little more white space during your day.