Every generation defines itself in its own particular way. People who belong to a specific generation express themselves in a distinctive form, whether it is the literature and philosophy it produces or the music it creates.

Understandably, social critics and historians have always found the need to label eras, periods and groups. The twentieth century has been called by various names. Aldous Huxley, writing in the 1940's, referred to his century as the age of noise.

"The radio," he once wrote, "is nothing but a conduit through which pre-fabricated din can flow into our homes."

If noise was an issue years back, today with the literal explosion of modern technology, CD's, headphones, iPods, and what not, clearly the noise level has been upped a thousand degrees.

Being so surrounded, Underlining this urgency for noise is our fear of being alone. invaded and inundated with external sounds and noise, we have become so accustomed to that reality to the extent of feeling a peculiar emptiness when it is deafly quiet. Imagine yourself walking into an upscale boutique and nothing is being played on the sound system—a guarantee that you will feel an awful eeriness.

When was the last time you took a long drive alone in your car and did not immediately flip on the music? Car manufactures today pride themselves by installing satellite radio systems so we can pick up thousands of stations as we drive. When it is quiet, we urgently sense the need to fill the empty airwaves with noise.

Noise is so much a part of our life that we have become dependant on it for our wellbeing. So many of us derive our sense of vitality from sound, and we feel empty in silence. There is a need, and almost perverse compulsion, to break any silence and talk or, perhaps, sing.

Underlining this urgency for noise is our fear of being alone. Simply, we are afraid to be alone with ourselves and certainly scared to experience a genuine self-encounter. And so we fill the airwaves with sound, for it is sound that creates the illusion of company. Even speaking to ourselves will do the trick, for when we are speaking there is the impression of a speaker and listener, and that the two are separate.

The dread of being alone and being alone with our own presence can be quite devastating. Sitting relaxing in a hot tub most people almost instinctively reach for a book or the paper. We live in a culture that compels us to relentlessly 'do' things. Even our leisure time and vocation needs to be filled with activity.

Hitbodedut is a classical Kabbalistic term for meditation. The Hebrew root of the word is badad, literally meaning to be alone, to detach yourself from noise and be with your self. In the more advanced form of this meditation, Hitbodedut is to seclude or separate 'intellectual everyday consciousness from imagination." This is the practice of being alone and simply being with your self.

To practice this discipline, you don't need to run away to a mountain top or go hide in a cave. In fact, this aloneness can be achieved even amongst other people. In the words of the American writer, Henry Thoreau, the champion of solitude, "The really diligent student in one of the crowded hives of Cambridge College is as solitary as a dervis in the desert."

Most often going inward in the midst of being in the company of others is unkindly, rude and altogether a mark of arrogance. But sometimes you may find yourself being obligated to go to a certain social setting or another event and feel extremely uncomfortable or self-conscious. Or worse, sometimes you may find yourself in a setting where you feel that the others are merely sucking up your energy, or even worse, distributing negative energy. In such situations, it may be very helpful if you are able to mentally detach yourself, go inward, and feel at ease, to be alone with yourself, free of the external forced-upon influences.

Success breeds success. The only way to become comfortable with silence, on all levels of silence; from words or beyond words is by practicing and further practicing stints of silence. Don't begin with fantastic grand plans of taking a full month vow of silence; rather begin with a firm commitment to practice silence for a half hour a day, and then grow on your success.

Ultimately, as you become more comfortable with yourself and your silence, when you do need to speak and verbally communicate, speech itself being another spiritually powerful tool, you will do so wisely, mindfully and with wisdom. The periods of silence will also allow you to gain hegemony of your speech so that your words are meaningful and vested with intention.