There’s two kinds: the internal and the external. The external is obvious, the internal not so much. And of course I’m interested in the latter 🙂 I have to note that one of my favorite sounds is actually the absence of sound – quiet – and what it’s like. Not the sound or lack thereof but the experience of it. A heavy snowfall, being alone in the wilderness far from the noise of light and sound. Favorites!
But what of the internal noise? Do you even hear it? It’s there, most all the time. Your thinking and feeling (emotional response to information.) And it’s all fine and dandy until it isn’t. The stories we tell ourselves… and believe. While this is a whole ‘nother post topic it has its roots here. Minal is insisting I write a book on the stories as a self-awareness project for our Atlanta DBT patients. Geez, I say one little thing and she goes nuts. Ah well, that’s the way of it.
I offered one of my students (not a patient per se – I don’t really like that term) the nickname of “Bose” as the topic of noise is a common one. Those damned stories… So I looked into how noise cancelling headphones work, and with the support of my QM professor I found the idea relatable to our internal noise.
Basically, active noise cancellation is via the sampling of frequencies in the environment and then creating offsetting ones, effectively cancelling out the noise. Higher and lower frequencies are either blocked by the material of the headphones or are below our normal threshold of awareness, so it is the midrange that is primarily cancelled out.
As we can’t create an actual internal active filter that will precisely offset unwanted frequencies (thoughts and emotions) we have to sort out how to get close enough so that the effect of cancellation is effective to whatever degree it is. There will always be leakage so to speak.
I really am a huge fan of Daniela Schiller’s work on re-writing (posted on previously) and I’m of the opinion that this is in fact an example of noise cancellation. The horror of a memory can be offset by a parallel memory that is not horror. Not entirely but maybe close enough. This respects both sides of memory as we are not trying to block the horror, just put it in its place. Attenuating the frequencies.
Sometimes you just need to turn your attention away from one thing (or thought) towards another. The energy of attention can be leveraged to creating a different state of mind. If you find yourself depressed, notice the thoughts and judgments that are controlling your mind and go do something! Anything. I just went and washed my car, vacuumed out the inside and did a quick detail of the interior. Crappy state of mind dampened if not eliminated!
When turning your mind (attention) or at least trying to, sometimes the energy of the unwanted pattern can be startling. That’s when the object of attention needs to be compelling, or “sticky” as one student put it. When I am falling asleep I let my mind wander and sometimes it wanders where I do not want it to go. Okay, a lot of the time it wanders there. So I searched for something to hold my attention. “The Pirate”, a 12d finger crack didn’t do it (although it’s pretty compelling!) and neither did fly fishing. So let’s get weird and think about really stupid stuff like the toroidal nature of the human pattern… yep, that did it! The past informing the future (Hawking radiation? Sort of?) This has led to many other deeply weird and (in the opinion of some) stupid ideas. But they are compelling… And it works!
Long term it may not be possible to create nearly flawless offsets. Doesn’t mean it’s not worth trying, and who knows, you may find something new and really interesting to occupy your mind.
Beware of the patterns of this world. They’re infectious, insidious and if left unattended can lead to real despair. Don’t buy the propaganda, offset the noise.