Noise pollution cannot be seen but its dangers impact not only our health but also the well-being of animals and wildlife. As a result, millions of Indians are affected daily with health problems such as noise induced hearing loss, sleep disturbances, stress, heart, and blood pressure problems affecting all age groups.
What soothes us when we are caught in a cacophony of noise? …. Water.
Reverence for water and its cultural significance are universally recognized with calmness and serenity of water symbolizing harmony with the environment. When we are near water, or just the sight and sound of water releases neurochemicals that trigger an immediate response in our brain that promotes relaxation, wellness and increases blood flow to the heart.
Water reduces cortisol levels (the stress hormone), slows our breathing and heart rate, and allows us to gently move into a mildly meditative mood.
‘Blue Mind’ theory:
People can experience the benefits of the water whether they’re near the ocean, a lake, river, swimming pool or even listening to the soothing sound of a fountain,” says marine biologist and author of the book ‘Blue Mind’ , Wallace Nichols. Modern life has in many ways made us anxious, over-connected and over-stimulated and this state is referred to as ‘Red Mind’ that is in total contrast to the ‘Blue Mind’. Being around water has calming benefits on our minds and bodies.
‘Forest Bathing’ is indeed a medicine:
The concept of ‘forest medicine’ originated in Japan, a place where nature has long been celebrated. ‘Shinrin yoku’ which translates as ‘forest bathing’ considers forests mystical and trees having healing powers. Forest bathing basically means being in the presence of trees and appreciating nature’s beauty in an aimless manner. Forest bathing is not hiking or brisk walking but spending time gazing at trees, listening to running water, bird songs, breezes on branches, rumble of thunder, crunching leaves and much more.
Most of the time, we are listening ‘in’ to the sounds of our inner thoughts and chattering mind. To hear the forest, we listen ‘outward’ by tuning in to the forest’s frequency and listening in all directions and even closing our eyes to hear more keenly.
The impressive benefits of forest bathing are several : boosts mood and immune system function; reduces blood pressure, heart rate, stress, anxiety, and confusion; improve sleep and creativity; and even helps fight cancer and depression.
India’s ‘quiet’ places:
As our population soars, cities and towns spread out, and roads stretch into even the most remote parts of the world, quiet is becoming increasingly scarce with a surge in tourism to national parks, monuments, and water bodies. The Covid-19 pandemic has increased footfall traffic in local parks and green areas raising noise levels in previously out-of-the-way spots. Increasingly, a growing coalition of environmental organizations, scientists, and grassroot activists are working to protect and restore quiet places.
- Great Himalayan National park in Himachal Pradesh,
- Sanjay National park in the Narmada valley of Madhya Pradesh,
- The Sundarbans of West Bengal ,
- Silent Valley national park which is Kerala’s last remaining rain forest
Need for designated ’quiet’ areas and water bodies:
If nothing is done to preserve and protect several such ‘quiet’ places from noise pollution, natural quiet may be non-existent in our world in the next decade. Silence is a part of our human nature, which can no longer be heard by most people.
Creation, identification, and protection of ‘quiet areas’ in public parks or other quiet areas in a cluster, near schools, hospitals and other noise-sensitive buildings and in quiet areas in open country are the key to setup a relaxing environment. Urban beaches, water fountains, misting towers, wading pools are examples of artificially created water themes popular in cities that provide an environment to relax and preserve the auditory experience of nature.
Listening to nature sounds, soothing sounds of a waterfall, bird songs using smart apps on our phones are popular methods to focus, relax and calm the mind. Check out this site where you can play soothing background sounds on your phone or computer while you continue with your day-to-day activities.
Close your eyes and listen for only a few seconds to the world you live in, and you will hear this lack of true quiet, of silence. All of us must do our best to protect one of the most important and endangered resources on the planet: silence.