According to the latest findings, it looks like excessive noise not only is annoying, but can actually take years off of your life. The NewScientist published last week that noise is the second-leading cause of environmental death:
Noise has been shown to raise blood pressure and blood-borne concentrations of stress hormones and fatty materials even when people are asleep. These can accumulate over time to block blood vessels and trigger a heart attack.
It sounds like noise is a much bigger health issue than imagined (pun intended). Short of death, excessive noise causes sleep disturbance (duh), annoyance, and even learning disabilities. These all contribute to a lack of well-being and, therefore, health.
This study is interesting because we followers of God like to talk about noise every few months, yet if you’re like me, do very little to curb noise in your life. I think about the times I drive home from work and have the radio on out of habit, or multi-task in front of the television, and the incessant tyranny that our noise-filled lives bring.
I don’t discover this tyranny until life becomes quiet, and it is as I type this. I almost feel that my ears are resting, only the clack of the keyboard and the soft sound of skin on paper from Brooke reading across the room. For, along with the physical effects of noise are spiritual effects: our inability to stop and listen to the intangible God. I’m not speaking of praying, but truly listening for the whisper of God like Elijah did in the cave thousands of years ago. For, if noise can hurt us physically, what does it do to our spirits?
May we be people who turn off the noise, people who are comfortable with silence, even people who crave silence. May we turn off our car radios and televisions and phones and iPods because our bodies need it, because our souls need it.
We need to find God, and he cannot be found in noise and restlessness. God is the friend of silence. See how nature – trees, flowers, grass – grows in silence; see the stars, the moon and the sun, how they move in silence…. We need silence to be able to touch souls. ~Mother Teresa