I recently moved off a beautiful island that the rich pay millions to build on. When I moved there six years ago I was told that it was the perfect place for artists and writers, yet during my last five months there it became a living hell. Most days, and yes, even Sundays, I had to wear ear plugs to block out excessive and irritating noise, or leave the house to seek respite on an isolated walking track.
The noise steadily increased during my six-year stay to the point where this past summer it reached a crescendo of screaming twins next door; ongoing building with compressors and nail guns and even the occasional jack hammer thrown in; a chorus of chainsaws, brush cutters and lawn mowers echoing up from and across the valley; jam sessions with electric guitars and drums and amplifiers turned up for maximum effect; increased traffic from an unprecedented influx of summer tourists; and…and… Then there were the parties that went into the early hours of the morning, both voices and music increasing in volume with the level of alcohol consumed. Finally I went to the doctor feeling ill.
“I’ve got to leave the island,” I blurted out even before I sat down. My blood pressure was up, the highest it’s ever been, and I could feel it. Yes, excessive, irritating noise can raise blood pressure Dr. Judith Orloff assures us in her book, Emotional Freedom. I also became aware that my long-held patience with the noise had suddenly given way to frustration and anger because there was no switch to turn it off. I had no control over it, but I did have control over where I chose to live, and so made the decision to move to the quiet and solitude of an isolated country setting.
But before the sound of only wind and birds could comfort me, I needed to learn how to naturally return my body to a relaxed and peaceful state amidst all that irritating noise while I prepared to leave the island. It was like manna from heaven when I chanced upon an article about a stress relief program on Scott.net and learned about “pipe breathing.”
All it takes is twelve breaths to relax from the flight/fight response of stress, and you can do this even at the office without anyone knowing that you are doing it. When I am wakeful at night these twelve breaths soon have me nodding off to sleep. I also used this breathing technique to bring down my blood pressure.
Watch the video about the Éiriú Eolas breathing technique and what makes it so effective, and learn how to master not only your breath, but also your emotional response to difficult and trying situations. I still practice this breathing – even in the peaceful place I now live where all I can hear are the birds. After a lifetime of living with excessive noise, it is important for me to teach my body how to keep the adrenalin flight/fight mechanism damped down enough to relax and inhibit the hypervigilance that is part of PTSD.
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