How do I meditate in a noisy environment

: Day Against Noise: Clinic doctors invite passers-by to meditate in Berlin Central Station

The Berlin Central Station, of all places, should be the right place to meditate? It is definitely one of the noisiest places in this city. Trains and S-Bahn trains keep coming in, their brakes squeal, loudspeaker announcements are constantly being made on all floors, and then thousands of travelers pull their trolleys across the stone floor. Every noise in this huge structure made of steel and glass sounds louder than anywhere else.

It was precisely in this building of noise that doctors at the Heiligenfeld Clinic in Berlin created an unusual place to contemplate on Wednesday, a quiet place in the din and hustle and bustle of the main train station. Travelers rush around looking for their trains. But in this place you can relax for a few minutes. They sit on little bumps and keep their eyes closed. A psychologist speaks a few words. Then a gong sounds. Switch off for seven minutes. In the middle of the noise. Does it work?

Sven Steffes-Holländer watches from the edge. He looks satisfied, because that is exactly how the chief physician for psychosomatic medicine and psychotherapy imagined: That people can recover from the noise for a moment. During the day against noise.

Bournout and Depression

"Noise means stress," says Sven Steffes-Holländer. “And noise makes you sick.” In the Heiligenfeld Clinic, a private hospital in the quietly located Biesdorf, the clinic employees mainly treat patients with Bournout and depression. The noise of the big city also made them sick. "Noise causes physical tension, noise means danger and it takes a lot of effort for the body to ignore the noises," says Sven Steffes-Holländer.

It makes a big difference whether you cause the noise yourself, for example by listening to loud music and making noise yourself, or whether you are forced to be exposed to the noise, as is mostly the case in a city like Berlin. "Noise that you have not chosen yourself creates feelings of powerlessness and loss of control," says Sven Steffes-Holländer. These can be the first signs of depression. Patients are healed with silence and silence.

Anyone who has to endure a level of 65 decibels over the long term, which corresponds to the noise of a passing car, suffers more from sleep disorders, cardiac rhythm disorders and muscle tension.

According to the German Society for Acoustics, noise is still one of the most strongly perceived environmental impairments for German citizens. Most often they feel disturbed by street noise, followed by neighborhood noise and aircraft noise. Since 2002 there has been a Europe-wide guideline to reduce these loud ambient noises. In Europe around 125 million people suffer from traffic noise every year, in Berlin it is more than 220,000 people. The Berlin Senate has been running a noise action plan since 2008, in which, among other things, particularly quiet places in Berlin are listed, for example the Grunewald and Tegeler Forest.

"The entire nervous system is irritated"

The main station is not one of them. Finding inner peace there during meditation is really difficult. You should concentrate on your breath, says the psychologist about the seating area in front of her. Then everyone close, close their eyes, straighten their backs, relax their shoulders and put their hands in their laps. The noise is more intense with closed eyes, but not threatening. Railways, brakes, announcements. Train delays. Dear passengers. A man should report to the information booth.

Thoughts circle, the breath becomes calmer. Breath in, breath out. An inner smile at this bizarre situation. Silence in the noise. How absurd. How well. The noise is getting quieter.

Head physician Steffes-Holländer says that with all the loud noises that we make every day, such moments of silence and relaxation are very important. “In your free time, you don't have to bother with noises,” says the 43-year-old doctor. He recommends walks, sports and trips to Brandenburg. "It's about simply coming to rest." Just a few minutes of inner retreat are helpful. “Five minutes of rest is better than no rest at all,” he says.

Because those who are exposed to permanent noise suffer more quickly from high blood pressure, metabolic disorders and increased aggressiveness. "The entire nervous system is irritated," says Steffes-Holländer.

Take-away earplugs

After seven minutes, a small bell sounds softly. The meditation ends, the seated open their eyes. “That was great,” says a woman who will now take the train to Hanover. The noises in the main train station wouldn't have bothered them. “I was able to switch off,” she says. Chief physician Steffes-Holländer says that the people hurrying by spoke much more quietly during the meditation. 20 minutes later it becomes quiet again, then the next round of silence begins.

Travelers stand around an information table, earplugs are there to take away. It's a Berlin product. In 1907 Maximilian Negwer invented the Ohropax brand in Schöneberg because of the increasing noise in the course of industrialization. The company advertised in the 1920s with the slogan "If you have earplugs in your ears, noise seems like silence". Today it says “Silence to go” on the package. A modern saying for an old problem.