Last fall, I found myself sitting in a coffee shop, feeling the familiar stress from someone reading the newspaper nearby, and taking it to inquiry. I asked one of my favorite mining questions: What’s my earliest memory of feeling like this?
I was brought right back to elementary school. Sitting in the classroom with my classmates. Feeling stress from taking a test. Hearing the rustling of paper. The stress I experienced now, sitting in a room with several other people, hearing the rustling of paper, mirrored the stress I felt back then. I experienced the situation as threatening then, and I did the same now. The rustling of paper, which to most would be a completely neutral or even comforting sound, to me was a threat. At a deeper neurological level, it even felt like a life and death situation. Seeing this, and doing more inquiry on it, greatly reduced the stress I experienced in those situations. (There is still more to look at.)
I can’t help wonder if not misophonia – in many or most cases – have these type of origins. Early in life, we experience threat and stress, a particular sound is associated with the situation, and whenever we hear that sound later in life, it triggers the original sense of threat and stress.
I should mention that feeling stress and a sense of threat from the sound of rustling paper wasn’t limited to coffee shops. The stress I experienced – and partly still am experiencing – came up whenever I heard the rustling of paper, or I was sitting down in a confined space with people (train, bus, airplane), and especially when the two were combined.