It’s been more than 25 years since cardiologist Herbert Benson, M.D., of Harvard Medical School discovered the relaxation response. If you sit with eyes closed, and focus on a restful word such as one or peace with each exhalation–gently returning your attention to the word when thoughts intrude–your heart rate slows, muscles let go, blood pressure lowers. (Try it. It works.)
That doesn’t necessarily mean you have to meditate. You can do virtually anything, as long as you’re paying close attention to it while breathing deeply. What that means, basically, is doing one thing at a time. So, instead of unconsciously fighting off sounds, let them wash through you. In the middle of a family mob scene, take a breath and listen. Whatever you’re doing–walking, making love, washing the dishes–notice when you feel grabbed away by noise. Listen, breathe, and then go back to what you’re doing.
The world, no matter how loud, is manageable if you can tap into this interior stillness. This doesn’t come easily. We do most things with our mind otherwise occupied–rehashing the day, making lists. So don’t be discouraged if your mind drifts. That’s what minds do. Just keep coming back.