Explorer ERLING KAGGE discusses the luxury of silence in the AGE OF NOISE …
I believe silence is the new luxury, more exclusive and long-lasting than other luxuries. One of my daughters put it into words: silence is the only commodity that those who are on the constant lookout for the latest luxury cannot attain.
Centres for silence are a growing industry, and they are popping up everywhere. Located at the end of Sunset Boulevard in LA, the Lake Shrine Temple promises the “silence of solitude”. After a four-day walk across the dusty sidewalks of the city (policemen were suspicious of me – only robbers and junkies walk in in LA), it was easy to find peace at the temple, with its lake, carp, flowers and silence. When I am out trekking in the Himalayas, I also come across facilities when visitors may experience silence. One summer I flew 18 hours from Oslo to Sri Lanka in order to relax, eat healthily and practise yoga in lush surroundings. It was fabulous. At the same time, it felt strange to travel halfway around the globe to disconnect. Fabricating conditions for silence is a fine undertaking but it can be tedious to drive a car in order to arrive at a place where you can calm down. Sometimes the best things in life are free. You don’t have to go to Sri Lanka. You can experience silence in the bathtub.
I take pleasure in meditating and practising yoga. I’ve also taken up hypnosis and can hypnotise myself for 20 minutes in order to disconnect. I lie there hovering a couple of centimetres above my bed each afternoon.
But I find myself thinking about how silence can be experienced without techniques. The threshold for finding silence can be lowered. You don’t need a course in silence to be able simply to pause. Walking to work is no grand experience but in 30 minutes I have managed to shut out the world. Silence can be anywhere, anytime, just in front of your nose. I create it for myself as I walk up the stairs, prepare food, or merely focus on my breathing. Sure, we are all part of the same continent, but the potential wealth of being an island for yourself is something you carry around with you all the time.
By Erling Kagge
Silence In The Age of Noise by Erling Kagge, (Viking, €12.99) is out now.
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