My temporary world of silence

“I’ve begun to realize that you can listen to silence and learn from it. It has a quality and a dimension all its own.” ― Chaim Potok, The Chosen

January seems such a long time ago, but this year, it was very different. It was a month where I lived in a partial world of silence.

Why do you ask?

Well, after the holiday’s, I returned to the world of work and managed to catch a cold. As is often the case with a cold, I got the streaming nose; I felt grotty and generally did not feel wonderful. What you might not realize is that sometimes when you get a cold, you get a build-up of fluid in your sinuses and this can have an impact on your ears. In my case, I woke up on a Tuesday morning with excruciating ear ache in my right ear. It lasted for a couple of hours and then all of sudden, the pain went and I got a burst eardrum. Yuck.

Then came the silence.

It is very difficult to hear with only one ear. No sound could be heard from the right side at all. It was even worse than all I could hear was the beating of my heart and the blood rushing about. Yes, that is what I could hear on my right side. Very off-putting when you are dialed into a conference call, listening through my left ear. Terrible when you are in an office and people are talking, as it was hard to follow a conversation with multiple people. I couldn’t even hear music or news when I was driving a car. It was worse at night when I lay down to go to sleep. Why?

‘Whoosh, whoosh, whoosh’, was the sound.

The silence of the bedroom was overshadowed by the heart pumping blood. If I lay on the right ear, it somehow dampened the sound and I was able to sleep. However, reflecting on the silence and the background whooshing sound, it enabled me to use it as a basis for reflection and meditation.

I used the Befriending Meditation technique published by Prof. Mark Williams, Oxford Mindfulness Centre. It really helped me. It calmed me. It reduced the levels of frustration and angst.

If you would like to listen to the practice, click on the link below:

So, the question you might be asking is, has my hearing returned?

Yes, over a four week period throughout January, there was almost complete silence; apart from the whooshing; with an occasional popping noise; but nothing else. Last week though, the popping stopped and I noticed that I could no longer hear the whooshing noise. The hearing has returned to the right ear and I can follow dialogue and conversations easily.

It has made me reflect on people that are permanently affected by hearing loss, or those that lose their hearing over time. We take our senses for granted and it is only when one of them is affected; sight, sound, taste, or touch, that you come to realize how connected we are physical to the world around us.

Finally and connected to what happened to me, at work, we are supporting a charity called Ausitica and one of my colleagues has tried a four-week challenge. For each week, you deprive yourself of one of your senses. Week one was wearing gloves for 5 hours every day (touch). Week two was wearing glasses, or not, depending if you didn’t or did wear glasses (sight). Week three was wearing muffles to block out sound (hearing). And yes, you’ve guessed it; week four was wearing all of the items at the same time (to demonstrate some of the attributes of autism). If you would like to check out what the charity does and how you can help, follow the link at the end of this blog.

Likewise, I have included an interesting article on the long term effects of a cold on your hearing.

I leave you with the following quote.  

“Silence, I discover, is something you can actually hear.”

Haruki Murakami, Kafka on the Shore

Thanks to my brother for helping me update the theme of my blog post and introducing me to a new world of photos.

Photo by Fabian Møller on Unsplash

One thought on “My temporary world of silence

  1. Martin
    very interesting Since moving to the new phase in my life I have had dealings with all sorts of disabilities and the issues of communication.,As you say an opportunity to learn and learn more about oneself.
    Many years ago I had the opportunity to be shut in an anaechoic chamber which was total silence. I t wa an interesting experience!


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