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A World Without The Internet: What Would It Be Like? How Different Would Your Life Be?

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Internet after all is not without enemies…
The Internet has become the Archimedean point in our daily life. Almost nothing gets done without it nowadays. The more we rely on it, the more it seems impossible to live without it. It is undoubtedly the most reliable machine Man has ever made. However, could this blind dependence of ours in itself be a threat to mankind? Are we investing too much in this new medium that we are risking to lose too much if we ever were to live without it?

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Why is the Internet so successful? How does it invade all aspects of life? The Internet, as a matter of fact, is the only manmade machine that has an organic structure. The way everything is wired up is unbelievably complex. Seeing that it has this organic structure, it seems to fit the properties of vitalism perfectly, and all aspects of human daily life. It fits the structure of society and how people connect to each other.

Life spreads by networking. The body itself is an information processor. Memory resides not just in brains but in every cell. No wonder genetics bloomed along with information theory. Gleick (2011:07)

Every newly added part, be it a computer or a smartphone for example, fits perfectly within the larger whole of the global network without disrupting the function of the rest of its parts, just like organic living cells. This is because “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts” (Aristotle 384-22 BC). Besides, the Internet could also be seen as a virtual reduplication of society and reality as a whole. Therefore, it enjoys social compatibility. The Internet is capable of acquiring new intelligences, which is an aspect of the human brain. There is always room for improvement, but if its success is not due to its organic structure, then maybe it is due to the fact that Internet is an efficient tool that circulates, measures, organizes and processes information, boosting human knowledge. Thus, the Internet is unique for its potential to store and easily access human knowledge and above all, its promise for the ideal democracy.

Could this huge machine we call the Internet be something ephemeral in human history? Is it possible that somehow it may not be around in the near future? Most people go about their daily lives as if Internet has always been here and always will be. However, its success and mere presence are not proof of its permanence. It would be unwise to think it will always be around. Actually, we have no guarantee that it will. It is evident that it is so reliable but yet at the same time it is so vulnerable. Its destruction is a legitimate probability although there isn’t much fuss about it.

Thanks to its omnipresence, the Internet has redefined the concept of power. On one hand it has empowered the people; structured them and unified their voices. Power is no longer strictly identified by missiles and bullets, but rather by ideas and people. On the other hand, the Internet has also empowered governments. It has enabled them with new ways of censoring, controlling, and manipulating people. This makes the thousands-years-long strife between governments and citizens even more intense.

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…this has obviously empowered individuals in a broad and complex set of ways, but as our lives become more and more dependent on the internet, it has also provided governments with a single point of contact for nearly ubiquitous surveillance. Kevin Drum (2013)

The Internet plays in favor of both parties. This can make the suppressed and overpowered party, be it the citizen or government, target the very same weapon with which the one in power exerts power.  Using Egypt as an example, it is almost unthinkable to picture the Egyptian uprising without social networking. When the government awoke to the danger of the people protesting, they immediately shut down the Internet and cellphone services as a form of resistance on January 28th 2011, OECD (2013:36).

In contrast, a worldwide rage among citizens of some countries is growing over the fact that their governments are trying to sensor the Internet. Consequently, movements and organizations such as Anonymous and Wikileaks have emerged and threatened many governments as well as Internet security. The possibilities are endless to what the masses can do when they are upset, as history has shown.

It would, perhaps, be shocking for citizens of respected democratic states to discover that foreign forces were influencing their lives in small but meaningful ways. It’s a universal issue and one that is highly controversial by its nature and though its sheer audacity. Bilal Khalid (2012)

In the two given examples above, it is shown how governments and citizens alike can constitute a threat to Internet stability. It seems it is the Internet that is primarily targeted whenever one party reacts. This sort of struggle between governments and the people is not ending anytime soon, and it can, and may, have huge repercussion with the presence of the Internet in the near future if things escalated. Now, with that being said, and since globalization is pushing us towards a single one-world government, let us apply this small incident of Egypt on a larger scale. What would happen if all citizens were at odds with the governments over power?

Similarly, what if the Internet granted citizens unconditional freedom that would threaten the firm grasp governments have over their people? Wouldn’t the Internet be susceptible of being the cost of this struggle for control? Wouldn’t it be, and maybe it is, the battlefield that is at the risk of its own destruction? Weapons by nature inherently bear the seeds of their own destruction, and the Internet is being used as a weapon– a very vulnerable one. No one would care about the survival of the Internet as long as its survival intervenes with one’s own interests. Internet after all is not without enemies. The more technology advances, the more we meet those longing for antiquity and the medieval life when things used to be simple. Ultimately, if the Internet were really to be destructed, it would be destructed not despite of, but because of its success.

If the threat does not come from amongst ourselves, it can very well come from the outside. While browsing the Internet we don’t worry about what’s happening in the center of our galaxy or on the surface of the sun. Getting used to seeing the sun rises every morning at a precise and predictable time makes us forget that the earth is actually floating in a violent and brutal universe filled with random comets and asteroids. Space Weather, for example, can have great impact on the global communication system, which could potentially put the entire global connectivity at the mercy of space. Not long ago in 1998, several satellites blacked out simultaneously because of a sun flare and many services went down instantly such as web pages and TV channels. Add to that, 12 satellites so far have been lost because of space weather, ESA (2004:05).

We are affected by the sun’s mood whether we like it or not. We can be subject to a future massive solar flare just like we are subject to the sun’s rays. The most gigantic one, known as the Carrington Flare, took place in 1859. It crippled the telegraphic communication all across North America and Europe. Computer engineers and space physicists are well aware of what a solar flare the size of Carrington would do to today’s extremely vulnerable communication infrastructure.

A major solar event could theoretically melt down the whole Internet. What earthquakes, bombs, and terrorism cannot do might be accomplished in moments by a solar corona. Eagleman (2012) 

Electromagnetic storms are very common too. Quebec’s power went down in 1989 for 9 hours because of one — affecting 6 million people’s lives. The cause of this geomagnetic storm was a Coronal Mass Ejection from the sun that took place on March 9th, 1989 and did not reach earth until 4 days after. From the micro perspective, IBM estimates that there is a new software error every month in every 256 MB of computer RAM caused by cosmic rays (Ziegler and Lanford, 1979:19-40, Tom 2008) despite the earth’s magnetic shield. These cosmic rays are unstoppable charged particles with high energies originating from the depth of space or the center of the Milky Way.

Now with the increase of chips miniaturization (Moore’s law), errors are expected to increase (Tom, 2008) since electronic components will increasingly be affected by cosmic rays. Let alone the worst-case scenario if the flux of cosmic rays increased. This confirms the weak spot communication technologies have vis-à-vis outer space. The earth magnetic field, which serves as a shield that protects the earth from violent solar flares, has been weakened the past decade. This is because the earth, as some scientists believe, is at the verge of a probable pole magnetic reversal (Wicherink, 2008:150), which is not an unprecedented event in the long history of earth. Thus, the current weak magnetic field and the vulnerability of our global communication infrastructure put the Internet at a greater risk of disappearing. On-going events of space weather can be predicted but only a few days ahead, and there isn’t much we can about them.

The Internet can be damaged in different ways. If the damage is not physical it could be virtual. Cyber-warfare and cyber-terrorism aren’t fictional concepts but real ones. Because the Internet will own every bit, and because every datum is connected to one single organism, the whole thing is at the risk of disappearing in bulk and at once. One single virus might have the potential of damaging every bit connected to the gigantic web.

We are living in a digital age in which any new piece of information is primarily poured into the internet, if not born in it already, before being committed to paper. In that sense, Internet is not a bunch of wires and servers connecting people, but there is more to it than just that. The Internet has become humanity’s huge database that hosts human knowledge. It follows that whatever harms the Internet would inevitably lead to the loss of human knowledge.

Ironically, one important consequence of the shift to digital publishing is that it leads to a potential loss of knowledge. Curt Rice (2013). 

Such a horrible event is not unprecedented in human history. Civilizations, such as the antediluvian civilizations, lost a massive wealth of knowledge in the remote prehistory (Bauval and Graham, 1996). Even more recently, a similar event took place in Alexandria with the destruction of the Royal Library of Alexandria (391 AD), which was the hub of knowledge in the ancient world.

The Internet has proved to be efficient in processing and storing human knowledge, yet it hasn’t proved to be stable, permanent, or sustainable. The only reasonable way to store human knowledge is to diversify the means of storage, which is not something being seriously taken into consideration. Gathering and centralizing human knowledge into the-binary-system medium isn’t a cleaver idea. With all due respect to Claude Shannon, a backup storage with a medium of a different nature should be going in parallel; books for example.

Why are we in a state of heedlessness about the probability that the Internet may not be around in the future? Is it because we never contemplate the idea of a world without Internet although it always used to be the case? When asked the question: “What is life to you without internet?” some people responded: Life then would be “without colors,” “very slow,” “tasteless,” “lifeless,” or “I would feel locked up in a cell.” According to these sorts of reactions, which may be the case for the majority, life seems nihilistic without Internet. Is it possible that the Internet has given new meaning to life? Probably, because it seems as if the Internet has shifted from being ‘a means’ to being ‘an end’ in itself, and the slogan nowadays has become, “I am on-line therefore I am”. It seems we are putting our entire human worth and essence into a lifeless machine. Freezing all that is vital in us into ‘…01001010110…’

The Internet has empowered people; it has empowered nations, bridged gaps and brought the world together. However it is now being used to tear the world apart. Bilal Khalid (2012)

All in all, what does this change? What sort of attitude should we adopt if we were to approach Internet as something temporary in our life in particular, and in human history in general?

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This is article was originally published on Morocco World News on November 26th, 2013. It has been re-published here on Collective Evolution with the full permissions of the author Zakaria Bziker. You can view the original article by clicking HERE.

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Sources

Bauval, Robert, and Graham Hancock. Keeper of Genesis: a quest for the hidden legacy of mankind. London: Heinemann, 1996. Print.

Geomagnetic Storms Can Threaten Electric Power Grid, Earth in Space, Vol. 9, No. 7, March, 1997, pp. 9–11 (American Geophysical Union)

Gleick, James. The information: a history, a theory, a flood. New York: Pantheon Books, 2011. Print.

Moore, Gordon E. (1965). “Cramming more components onto integrated circuits” (PDF). Electronics Magazine. p. 4. Retrieved 2006-11-11.

MORRIS Meaghan Elizabeth, “Banality in Cultural Studies”, Logics of Television, Patricia Mellencamp (ed.), pp. 14 -43, Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1990

OECD e-government studies: Egypt 2012. Paris: OECD, 2013. Print.

Tom Simonite, Should every computer chip have a cosmic ray detector?, New Scientist, March 2008

Wicherink, J., and N. Haddon. Souls of Distortion Awakening: a convergence of science and spirituality. Eindhoven: Piramidions, 1032008. Print.

Ziegler, J.F. (Jan 1996). “Terrestrial cosmic rays”. IBM Journal of Research and Development (IBM) 40 (1): 19–40.

Extreme space weather: impacts on engineered systems and infrastructure” Royal Academy of Engineering- Prince Philip House, n.d. Web. 7 Nov. 2013.

Space Weather effect” ESA Space Weather Web Server. The European Space Agency, 1 Dec. 2004. Web. 8 Nov. 2013.

Bilal Khalid, Muhammad. “The Internet – A Tool of Power and Control.” Bertelsmann Future Challenges The Internet A Tool of Power and Control Comments. N.p., 22 June 2012. Web. 25 Oct. 2013.

Drum, Kevin. “Quote of the Day: Control Over the Internet Is the “Struggle of Our Generation“.” Motherjones.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 25 Oct. 2013.

Eagleman, David . “Four ways the Internet could go down” – CNN, n.d. Web. 12 Oct. 2013.

Rice, Curt. “How the internet can make knowledge disappear and 2 ways to stop it.” Curt Rice. N.p., n.d. Web. 25 Oct. 2013.

Taky Eddine, Omar. “Reflection on on-screen vs. print reading.” Morocco World News RSS. N.p., 9 Oct. 2013. Web. 9 Nov. 2013.

Oussama Bziker, Sami Alioua, Somaya Bahji, Amina Bakassi, Abdelmajid Bahimi. Interviewed by Zakaria Bziker. Kenitra, Morocco. Nov 5th, 2013.

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About The Writer
zakariaZakaria Bziker is a student at Ibn-Tofail University (Kenitra, Morocco), currently pursuing a master’s degree in Education. He obtained his bachelor’s degree in General Linguistics.

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South African Doctor Cures Deafness With First-Ever Middle Ear Transplant

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    The South African Department of Health has announced that a team of South African doctors have successfully completed the first ever middle ear transplant that restores hearing caused by certain types of deafness.

  • Reflect On:

    Does our current economic system truly support innovation? Does it value things that truly make humanity thrive? Or does it seem like there is always a need for us to convince someone to invest in something that is obviously important for society?

The South African Department of Health revealed earlier this year that a team of South African doctors have successfully performed the first-ever transplant of a patient’s middle ear, allowing them to once again hear. The surgery can be performed on people of any age and sets out to cure deafness caused by physical damage, infection in the middle ear as well as congenital birth defects and metabolic diseases.

Once again we see the value and innovation of 3D printing at work as this new invention helps to reconstruct the broken bones of a middle ear. Unlike other forms of transplants, this new innovation is seen as a long-term solution to conductive hearing loss.

It was 40-year-old Thabo Moshiliwa who lost his hearing in a car accident that underwent the first ever surgery dreamt up by the medical team at the University of Pretoria’s Steve Biko Academic Hospital. This first ever surgery lasted about an hour and a half. The next patient to receive this treatment was 62-year-old Simon Bohale, who had an underdeveloped middle ear. His occupation as a welder also contributed to worsening his hearing loss. “I am excited. I have had two surgeries before but was not 100% okay. I cannot wait to hear people when they speak to me.” said Bohale.

The most influential person behind this new discovery was Professor Mashudu Tshifularo who had been studying conductive hearing loss over the past decade. When his interest turned to 3D printing technologies as a means for solving the intricate physical issues associated with certain types of hearing loss, he realized this highly useful discovery.

In the South African Department of Health press release, Tshifularo stated:

“By replacing only the ossicles that aren’t functioning properly, the procedure carries significantly less risk than known prostheses and their associated surgical procedure.

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We will use titanium for this procedure, which is biocompatible. We use an endoscope to do the replacement, so the transplant is expected to be quick, with minimal scarring.”

Tshifularo told local radio station Jacaranda FM:

“This was one of our patients we have been waiting for, for this reconstruction for almost three years now because they are not affordable … [but] we have done something new in the world and people will remember us for that.”

 Tshifulara understands that this new treatment must become accessible and affordable for poor and working-poor patients for its benefits to fully be realized. This includes those who use South Africa’s public hospitals.

Tshifularo continued:

“Because we are doing it in the country and we are going to manufacture here, it has to be affordable for our people in state hospitals.

It will be very accessible because as long as we can train the young doctors to be able to do this operation, then it will be accessible for them as well.”

Now it comes down to funding and support to continue moving forward with making this treatment accessible. The university’s Department of Otorhinolaryngology (Ear, Nose and Throat) requires government funding and private sponsors to ensure this innovation continues forth.

More good news, South African Minister of Health Aaron Motsoaledi pledged that the Department of Health will “do everything in our power to assist and mobilize resources to make sure that Prof. Tshifularo gets all the help he needs for this far-reaching innovation.”

The Takeaway

There is no shortage of innovative people and incredible creativity on this planet, but does our current economic system truly support this innovation? Does it value things that truly make humanity thrive? Or does it seem like there is always a need for us to convince someone to invest in something that is obviously important for society?

The truth is, we hold back our own healing and thrivability as a species by accepting the belief that our current economic system is the way to go.

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Female Sorcerer’s Fascinating Arsenal of Charms Discovered In Pompeii

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Courtesy Cesare Abbate (ANSA).

In Brief

  • The Facts:

    On August 12th archaeologists uncovered a trove of jewels in Pompeii that are thought to have been part of a 'sorcerer's treasure trove' used to bring fortune and fertility, and protect against bad luck.

  • Reflect On:

    As we dive into all of the magic that crystals, amulets, and similar tools have in this day & age, it's even more magical to see this latest finding & remember that we have been utilizing such tools for as long as we can look back all over the world.

My initial reaction to this story was, ‘WOAH. I love and have to share this!’

As someone who has gone on a very specific path in life, my journey has been filled with tools much like these. I am forever fascinated by all things magic (you can tune into my interview with Collective Evolution The Magic Within on CETV to understand this even further if you wish) and when news like this pops into my frequency, it solely reaffirms that there are so many of us out here and that energetic practices are, of course, nothing new.

On August 12th archaeologists in Pompeii discovered an array of amulets, gems, and lucky charms thought by researchers to have belonged to a female sorcerer who could have been a victim of the catastrophic eruption of Mount Vesuvius more than 2,000 years ago.

More than 100 miniature objects were found in a wooden crate which had all but decomposed except for its bronze hinges. The findings include miniature dolls, phallic amulets, necklace beads, and a tiny skull among other objects made of bone, bronze, glass, and amber. The researchers have come to the hypothesis that they were likely used for adornment or protection by a woman in the years before Mount Vesuvius erupted in AD 79, which later buried the city and its population in volcanic ash.

“They are objects of everyday life in the female world and are extraordinary because they tell micro-stories and biographies of the inhabitants of the city who tried to escape the eruption,” said Pompeii’s general director, Massimo Osanna, in a statement.

See items from the treasure trove below.

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Courtesy Cesare Abbate (ANSA).

Courtesy Cesare Abbate (ANSA).

Courtesy Cesare Abbate (ANSA).

“The objects… were found at the Casa del Giardino, the same area where an inscription was recently uncovered that made historians change the date of when they think the Vesuvius eruption that destroyed Pompeii took place, shifting it from August 24 to October 24 79 AD.” – ANSA

Courtesy Cesare Abbate (ANSA).

Courtesy Cesare Abbate (ANSA).

Courtesy Cesare Abbate (ANSA).

At this very location, the researchers also discovered a room containing the bodies of ten victims, which included women and children. Archaeologists will use DNA analysis to determine if the victims were related. “Perhaps the precious box belonged to one of these victims,” Osanna suggested. “The iconography of the objects and amulets invoke fortune, fertility, and protection against bad luck,” Osanna said. He has suggested to the Italian news agency Ansa that it could have been a “sorcerer’s treasure trove.”

Since there was no gold found in the trove, it is likely these objects belonged to a servant or a slave, rather than the owner of the house, Osanna told Ansa.

Courtesy Cesare Abbate (ANSA).

 

Courtesy Cesare Abbate (ANSA).

Courtesy Cesare Abbate (ANSA).

The jewelry will go on display soon at Pompeii’s Palestra Grande in an exhibition set to be a follow-up to its recently closed show on Roman jewelry called “Vanity.”

The Takeaway

Though the past potential usage for these items is stressed to be simply a hypothesis at this time, it is incredible to simply see and imagine the time they existed in through these images.

As humans in a material, physical, 3D world, we ourselves are continuously building our own treasure troves in a way. Every piece of jewelry or product we purchase, find, or create flows its way into our homes, cars, pockets, backpacks, etc. and in the end shall remain and live on well beyond us to share a glimpse into our story. What would you like to leave behind? A trunk filled with magical amulets, or a legendary story (or both)?

Though it is nearly impossible to always be thinking of this when adding more ‘stuff’ into our lives, I do believe it serves as a good reflection point that these things are simply that – things – and that the real magic lies within each and every one of us. Remember that the energy and intentions that we at times give to others, things, or tools, is always coming from & through US.

Now, this is not to say that treasures themselves can not be treasured. If you just so happen to love the look, feel, and energy that they give off or wish to utilize these physical objects as an extension of yourself, by all means (and I get it – I’m with you!). As a final note, however, from a real-life gem collector to the hearts of all of you,  know that the answer, the love, the magic IS YOU.

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Scientists Show How Silence Literally Alters Our Biology

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    Studies have shown that excessive environmental noise not only decreases one's quality of life and cognitive function, but also reduces lifespan. The good news is that spending time in silence can reverse these effects.

  • Reflect On:

    Are you living in an environment that is consistently loud? Do you take much time for intended silence? Have you tried the 5 Days of You Challenge?

If you’re the average person, you wake up to the sound of an alarm. That alarm sends you to the bathroom where you quickly get yourself ready for your workday. If you have the time, you might eat something before jumping into your car to listen to music or the radio while you sit in traffic on your way to work.

Once you get there, it’s all people, customers, co-workers, cars, trucks, planes, lawn mowers, construction, phone calls, and tasks for the next 8 hours. These noises that most of us experience in excess send our bodies into stress states, decreasing our quality of life and potentially reducing our lifespan. It appears that noise, in excess, is not healthy for humans. Silence, on the other hand, can have huge benefits, but let’s explore the damage caused by noise before we get to the benefits of silence.

Before we get into the research, I’d like to note that the word ‘noise’ is said to come from the Latin word nausea, or the Latin word noxia, meaning seasickness, sickness, hurt, damage, or injury. Is it any wonder ‘noise’ is not healthy for us?

The Studies

Outside of your anecdotal reflection, there is scientific evidence that supports the negative effects of noise on our health. The World Health Organisation (WHO) examined and quantified its health burden based on a European study that involved 340 million people living in Western Europe. It found that residents were cumulatively losing about a million years off their lives due to noise every year. That’s like one in every three people losing an entire year off their life due to excessive noise!

A study that was published in 2011 in Psychological Science examined the effects Munich’s airport had on children’s health and cognition. Professor Gary W. Evans of Cornell University noted that the children who were exposed to noise developed a stress response that caused them to ignore the noise. These children not only ignored harmful noises, but also regular stimuli that are important to pay attention to like speech. Wonder why people have trouble paying attention these days? Perhaps we are exposed to too much noise and too many sounds.

This study is among the strongest, probably the most definitive proof that noise–even at levels that do not produce any hearing damage–causes stress and is harmful to humans. – Professor Gary Evans

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Going back to anecdotal evidence for a moment, I always find that staying with my friends who live in cities produces a much more uncomfortable situation for myself than when I’m in more quiet situations, or living at my quiet, somewhat isolated home in nature. I always share with friends that the environment of living in a city seems to be unhealthy; not just the air, but the energy, hustle and bustle, and the noise as well. Reading these studies clearly illustrates that it does not appear to be natural or healthy for humans to live or work in loud environments every day.

Noise has been linked to high blood pressure, heart disease, tinnitus, and loss of sleep. Living in consistently noisy environments will cause you to experience much higher levels of these harmful hormones. Of course, there is something you can do about this should you take action on it, but it requires that–action.

The Benefits of Silence

Again, pointing to anecdotal evidence for a moment, think back to the moments where you were on your own, retreating to the cottage or somewhere else quiet. Did you notice how often you NOTICED the silence? Not only that, but you likely felt a lot better after 3 or 4 hours of being there.

It isn’t just cleaner air or taking some time away from work, it’s the silence and lack of distraction. This can be observed by playing loud music and partying the entire time at a cottage as well. You’ll realize it isn’t relaxing, but simply another distraction. When you contrast the two different experiences, the benefits become more clear.

An interesting study observed the effects of noise, music, and silence on the brain. The study was published in the journal Heart and found that the two minute pauses randomly placed between the ‘relaxing music’  in the study were far more relaxing for the brain than the relaxing music. The longer the silence, the more benefits experienced by the participants. Study author L. Bernardi found that his ‘irrelevant’ blank pauses were the most important aspects of the study. Silence is heightened by contrast.

What You Can Do & The Takeaway

So, what can you do if you experience a lot of noise and are looking to avoid loud noises or simply take a break? Firstly, the good news is that the brain recovers from too much noise over time. According to the attention restoration theory, the brain’s finite cognitive resources can begin restoring when you are in an environment with lower levels of sensory input. In silence, the brain essentially lets down its sensory guard and restores some of what has been ‘lost’ through excess noise.

The practical end of this would look like making an extra effort to be or spend time in silence. This means no music, movies, friends, conversations, phone chimes, etc, even if it’s only for 30 minutes or an hour each day.

This silence would not only allow your brain to restore its cognitive functions like creativity, but it can give you the opportunity to disconnect, quiet down and connect with yourself as well.

Years ago, I created a challenge called the 5 Days of You Challenge that’s designed to do just that – help people slow down, reduce noise and distraction, and connect deeper with themselves. Over the years, I have sent 180,000 people through this challenge and it has resulted in an incredible number of positive transformations.

If you’re looking to:

  • Clear emotional blocks
  • Connect deeply with yourself
  • Find more peace in your life
  • Develop greater self-awareness and presence
  • Slow down and enjoy life more

Then this challenge is something I highly recommend. I’ve made this challenge available to everyone to experience for free. You can check it out on CETV here.

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