Quiet Mind in a Noisy City

[Mental] Quiet is something many of us seek out. In coping with depression, anxiety, and panic attacks finding quiet is essential as I go about my days, my life.

But quiet, especially in NYC, often isn’t quiet at all. As I write this I can hear the rumble of my neighbors’ bass speakers above, the roar of a cat in the air shaft, and cars and livery cabs bouncing over the speed bump in the street outside.

Even internally: the gargle of my stomach as my dinner settles, my unconscious habit of cracking my ankles and toes, and the scratch of my dry skin against the paper I’m drafting this on.

Quiet as a meditative state isn’t really the absence of thought. For me, it’s the ability to observe and not judge, not react to things around me. I hear my thoughts and let them go, letting feelings rise and flow on.

It really helps to remove the outside noise to do this kind of meditation. But quiet is much more of a mind-state than a noise level. I am quiet when I watch, taking the world in and letting it go without judgement or reaction.

It also isn’t a blissful period of time, uninterrupted. No outside noise required, internal noise and feelings frequently bubble to the surface and disrupt my quiet time and I am working hard to practice lightly brushing them to the side and letting the quiet back in.

Being in the country is what most of us picture when we hear “quiet.” But you can find noise (internal or external) in even the most idyllic places. For me, an urban environment is just as good as any to find peace and quiet. On a rush hour morning train, walking my dog in my Brooklyn neighborhood, or shuffling through midtown Manhattan after work, I can blend into the hum of the city and find quiet there, too.

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